Disney waits for Shanghai park approval

Local officials agree, but central government dawdles

Updated: Aug 9, 2009, 09:15 AM ET

BEIJING -- Plans for a Disney theme park near Shanghai are still not approved by China's central government, even though local officials have signed off on the project, state media reported Monday.

The new park is slated to be built in the Pudong New Area and should be completed by 2014 if it receives timely approval, English-language newspaper China Daily reported.

In January, Disney put forth a plan for a park valued at $3.59 billion, which received a green light from local regulators.

Although Shanghai has its own municipal government, it is one of four major Chinese cities administered directly by the central government. Any large-scale projects like a theme park of the proposed size would need their nod in order to proceed.

A Disney representative declined comment on the report.

In late June, the Hong Kong government announced it will expand its Hong Kong Disneyland to include three themed areas, or "lands" with construction to be finished within five years.

The Shanghai park has been a source of contention between the two sides, with Hong Kong concerned that it will siphon off northern and central Chinese tourists who otherwise would have gone to the Special Administrative Region.

Secretary for commerce and economic development Rita Lau said in late June that Walt Disney Co. will invest $452 million of new equity capital for the expansion, bringing the company's total investment in the Hong Kong park to $800 million.