Shanghai Disney Sets Opening Date

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Shanghai Disney Resort consists of a 963-acre theme park as well as a hotel and entertainment complex.

Walt Disney confirmed Tuesday that its long-anticipated and delayed theme park in Shanghai, China, will open on June 16, narrowly making the conglomerate's latest goal of opening the massive, $5.5 billion park in the first half of 2016.

Shanghai Disney Resort consists of a 963-acre theme park as well as hotels and an entertainment complex.

Disney first set its sights on Shanghai in the 1990s and signed a letter of intent in 2002 with a goal of opening a park in 2008, according to The Wall Street Journal, which was the first outlet to report the upcoming opening.

Construction, though, didn't begin until 2011, in part due to an expansion plan added later. Shanghai Disney is 57 percent-owned by state-backed consortium Shanghai Shendi, but Disney owns 70 percent of the joint venture that will operate the park.

Disney confirmed the June 16 date, but didn't offer many other details.

Insiders told the Journal that some of the park will still be under construction on June 16, though it will open with all of the previously announced attractions, including a gigantic princess castle and a Tron Lightcycle rollercoaster.

The Journal also said that 2,000 employees have been hired, and over the next five months Disney will hire and train an additional 8,000 workers, some of whom will perform in a Mandarin-language stage production of the musical The Lion King, which will be a separate admission, Broadway-style show.

Disney's resort in Shanghai had been budgeted at $4.7 billion, but CEO Bob Iger announced in 2014 that the conglomerate and its partners would sink an additional $800 million into the project while also expanding the number of attractions.

"As we speak, there are roughly 8,000 construction workers not only working on the property, but living on the property, to build a quintessential Disney experience in the largest city in the largest country," Iger boasted then. At that time, the intention was to open the park by the end of 2015.

On Tuesday, Iger called Shanghai Disney resort "a one-of-a-kind, world-class destination that is authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese."

Shanghai Disneyland will consist of six themed lands: Adventure Isle, Gardens of Imagination, Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove (based on the Pirates of the Caribbean films) and Fantasyland.

The resort also will include the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel, as well as Disneytown for shopping and dining and Wishing Star Park, a recreational area with a walking park and lake.

Email: Paul.Bond@THR.com

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