Shanghai, June 15 (IANS) Thousands of visitors are expected to attend the opening ceremony of Shanghai Disneyland on Thursday, the first Disney resort on the Chinese mainland.
The $5 billion theme park in the city’s Pudong area has already received more than 500,000 visitors during trial operations that began in April, while management is making plans for its expansion even before it opens.
Disney CEO Bob Iger said on Wednesday the 4 sq. km resort had started construction to expand its attractions to cover an extra 3 sq. km of land that had been previously allocated by the Shanghai municipal government, the South China Morning Post reported.
“China represents incredible potential for Walt Disney in the near and long terms,” Iger said.
The park, a joint venture between Disney and state-owned Shanghai Sendai Group, is China’s biggest foreign investment to date, according to the China Daily newspaper.
Shanghai Disneyland will be Disney’s second-largest theme park after its flagship resort in Florida, and is the third Disney theme park to open in Asia after Tokyo’s Disneyland and Hong Kong’s Disneyland Resort.
The entertainment giant said it was targeting around 330 million people living in Shanghai and neighbouring cities as China’s domestic tourism market continues its rapid growth.
Chinese travellers made more than three billion domestic trips last year, said Jian Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy’s International Tourism Development Institute.