Walt Disney has broken ground over on its Shanghai Disneyland theme park, an eight square mile resort that will cost £2.7 billion and take five years to build and is targeted at China’s 330 million children.
The development, which was only formally agreed in November, is a joint venture with Shanghai government and comes as part of a broader Disney strategy to develop expand its business in China.
Expected to open within five years, it is likely to include a Disneyland, as well as versions of the company’s Epcot and Animal Kingdom attractions.
Speaking at the ceremony, CEO Bob Iger said the park would be both “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese”.
He added that the Shanghai version of the Storybook Castle would be “unique” and the largest and tallest yet built.
Shanghai officials said the Disney resort would help raise the city’s profile as an international tourist destination.
Disney spent over a decade getting government approval for the project. The company will be keen to address the mistakes made from its Chinese park, the loss-making Hong Kong Disneyland, which has been widely criticised as too small and is now being expanded.
Disneyland Shanghai in contrast will include a theme park covering 910,000 square metres, part of a much larger resort including hotels, a lake and outside recreation facilities totalling 3.9 square kilometres.
Disney will own 43 per cent of the resort and contribute an equivalent amount of funding, with 57 per cent coming from the state-owned Shanghai Shendi group.
Mr Iger said Disney also planned to invest in movie production in China, producing films that are “made in China, by the Chinese, for the local market, but Disney branded”. The company also recently launched Disney-branded English language schools on the mainland.