REFILE-UPDATE 1-Shanghai Disneyland plans Star Wars, Marvel attractions | News Entertainment

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Shanghai Disneyland plans Star Wars, Marvel attractions

15 Jul 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Disney Unveils Made For China Shanghai Theme Park.

The $5.5 billion resort in Shanghai will feature six themed lands, two Disney-themed hotels, a Disneytown shopping and entertainment district and Wishing Star Park, a walkable garden next to a lake. “We are building something truly special here in Shanghai that not only showcases the best of Disney’s storytelling but also celebrates and incorporates China’s incredibly rich heritage to create a one-of-a-kind destination that will delight and entertain the people of China for generations to come,” said Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger at a presentation at the Shanghai Expo Centre.Walt Disney Co.’s new park in China will offer Jet Packs, a rafting adventure, rides on a Tron-themed Lightcycle and the largest parade in any of its resorts, all aimed at winning over Chinese customers.Walt Disney Co. will roll out attractions based on “Star Wars” and Marvel superheroes at its new Shanghai theme park when the $5.5-billion facility opens next year, Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger said here Wednesday as the company kicked its publicity efforts for the long-in-the-making resort into high gear. The Shanghai Disneyland theme park is part of the larger Shanghai Disney Resort, which also takes in a Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and a Toy Story Hotel, adjacent to the theme park.

After stumbling with the launches of California Adventure in Anaheim in 2001 and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005, the company is out to prove that it has learned from past mistakes such as building less ambitious parks and failing to understand the cultural and culinary habits of its customers. With China’s large population, growing middle class and thirst for theme park entertainment, Shanghai Disneyland will be an important foothold for Disney in a country unfamiliar to Mickey Mouse and the Disney product, said Adam Bezark, the creative director at The Bezark Co., a production company that specializes in theme parks. “This is the biggest market of all,” Bezark said “It is a major milestone and anchor for them … and will help introduce Disney to Chinese consumers.” Disney is developing the massive project with China’s Shanghai Shendi Group, and unlike other Disney parks, several attractions have been modified to fit the Chinese culture and consumers’ taste.

Disney earlier this year delayed the opening of Shangai Disneyland until the first half of 2016 from a scheduled start at the end of 2015 as it expanded plans for the park. A more Chinese theme will be seen in the Garden of the Twelve Friends, where animals of the Chinese zodiac are re-imagined as Disney and Pixar characters. At a splashy news event, Iger unveiled a huge model of the resort in front of Chinese journalists, thanked the Chinese government and promised that visitors would discover Disney’s “most technologically innovative park.” “Here in Shanghai we are applying everything that we’ve learned from our six decades of relentless innovation and creativity to deliver a world-class destination,” Iger said. “Our goal was to create something that was authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese, and we believe we’ve achieved the perfect blend.” The appeal of China is obvious: The most populous country — with roughly 1.3 billion people — is home to an expanding class of consumers that relishes the slick products that Disney generates.

Gardens of Imagination: rides include Fantasia Carousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, while stage shows include “Ignite the Dream, a Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light” and parade “Mickey’s Storybook Express.” Tomorrowland: technology centric-section includes Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, and TRON Lightcycle Power Run, a coaster-style attraction where guests board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles. Attraction, Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure , transforms a boat ride into a journey with cutting-edge robotics, animation, set design and multimedia.

Under a strategy Iger calls “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese,” the world’s largest entertainment company is trying to include as much local content as possible to appeal to Chinese consumers and avoid complaints of cultural imperialism that greeted its resort in France. Now Disney’s superhero and action films do massive business here. “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” which was released in China in May, grossed about $240 million here.

Three employees of companies working on site said extra time was also necessary to remedy construction problems caused by Chinese contractors who cut corners and didn’t meet Disney’s standards. Disney will keep developing both the Hong Kong and Shanghai resorts as it wants them to stay relevant, said Bob Weis, Executive Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering, the unit responsible for content creation for the resorts. Asked about the reasons for the delay, Disney spokesperson Angela Bliss said: “Shanghai Disney Resort is our most ambitious project and represents the Walt Disney Company’s biggest foreign investment.

As a result of accelerating our expansion plans, we decided to target the spring of 2016 for opening.” Gary Goddard, a former Disney Imagineer who runs his own entertainment design firm and has worked extensively in China, said he thinks the delay was a positive sign. “I don’t think Mr. Iger wants to open Shanghai and then have to fix things for the next 10 years as had to be done with parks of the last decade and a half,” Goddard said. “Hopes are high.” Shanghai Disney, which is 57% owned by the state-owned investment consortium Shanghai Shendi and 43% by Disney, represents a huge potential new revenue source for the Burbank-based entertainment giant, complementing and enhancing its film, TV and merchandising businesses. The parks and resorts division is Disney’s second largest, after TV networks, accounting for 31 percent of the company’s $48.8 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year. The company has a chain of language-training centers called Disney English, and last month it opened a flagship Disney store in Shanghai — the largest in the world at 54,000 square feet. Walt Disney World in Florida, the world’s most-attended theme park, attracted 19 million visitors last year, according to the Themed Entertainment Assn.

Although a Chinese-tiled roof for the Enchanted Storybook Castle was rejected in early planning stages, subtle Chinese flourishes are in evidence — the finial is topped with a peony, the national Chinese flower.

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