Disney opens Shanghai theme park after rollercoaster Chinese ride

The entertainment giant's move into mainland China has faced opposition...

Disney opens Shanghai theme park after rollercoaster Chinese ride

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Some 15 years after negotiations with China began, Shanghai Disney Resort threw open its gates today in what the Walt Disney Company will be hoping is a fairtyale ending to a tale of protracted discussions and no little resistance.

The $5.5 billion theme park is the first such resort in mainland China, and follows the lead of Hong Kong Disney Resort in trying to crack the lucrative Chinese holiday and tourism market.

Covering 963 acres, Shanghai Disney Resort is over 11 times the size of the very first Disneyland in California, whilst its "Enchanted Castle" is the largest and tallest Disney has every constructed.

Disney chairman Bob Iger told the press before the official opening:

"Disney is uniquely suited for success in China...

"We wanted to make a strong statement... Whatever we built here had to be significant enough to have real impact.

"We didn’t just build Disneyland in China, we built China’s Disneyland."

Along with two hotels and a shopping area, the park features six themed zones.

Whilst Fantasyland and Tomorrowland are present and correct, Frontierland (known as Westernland in the Tokyo resort) has been ditched to steer clear of 'cultural imperialism' accusations.

Similarly, "Main Street USA" has become "Mickey Avenue".

Iger said:

"We should recognize that we are invited guests in China. It’s a privilege for us to be here, so we need to show great respect for the people and the culture.

"The mantra of the park is 'authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese'."

The charm offensive hasn't worked on everyone, however.

shanghaidisneyresort.com

In the run-up to the opening, Disney's thunder was stolen to an extent with the May launch of the "Wanda City" park in Nanchang City in the south-east of China.

Wanda City is the first of 15 planned theme parks from billionaire Wang Jianlin – China's wealthiest man – as he ambitiously bids to replace Disney as the world's largest tourism company.

Speaking on China Central Television prior to Wanda City's opening, he criticised the Californian company:

"Disney really shouldn't have entered the mainland. We will make Disney's China venture unprofitable in the next 10 to 20 years...

"The frenzy of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the era of blindly following them have passed. 

"[Disney is] entirely cloning previous IP, cloning previous products, with no more innovation".

Disney didn't take it lying down; particularly when they felt Wanda City had infringed its copyright.

After the theme park's opening weekend, it came to light that performers were dressed as Captain America and Snow White. The park also has stuffed animals that apparently bear a resemble to Kung Fu Panda.

Disney said in a statement:

"We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement.

"Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more."