Shanghai could be Disney's next theme park venue BEIJING (AP) — Is there a Disney park in Shanghai's future?
Shanghai's mayor says the city is making preparations to build a Disney theme park, but is still awaiting the go-ahead from China's central government.
"Shanghai wants to build a Disney park and has hoped for a long time to do so. But we can't be sure when construction work will begin," Mayor Han Zheng told reporters during the annual session of the national legislature in Beijing.
"Shanghai has the right conditions to build a park, and we're carrying forward all aspects of the preparatory work," he said.
Han said only the State Council, China's Cabinet, could give permission to build a park.
A Shanghai park could compete with Hong Kong's newly opened Disneyland, which has counted on mainland Chinese tourists as a major source of visitors.
But another senior tourism officials says he believes Hong Kong Disneyland is already overcrowded — a statement which may hint at support for a Shanghai park to accommodate demand from China's huge and newly affluent population.
"China has a very large population. We now have 1.3 billion people. The market is very large. As far as I know, Hong Kong Disneyland is now very crowded," said Shao Qiwei, director of China's State Administration of Tourism, whose comments were broadcast on Hong Kong's Cable TV.
The Hong Kong theme park, which opened in September, was widely criticized in January when it turned away hundreds of Lunar New Year holiday makers from mainland China because the park was full. Chaos erupted when angry crowds tried to force their way into the park.
The embarrassing incident prompted a public apology from Hong Kong Disneyland Managing Director Bill Ernest and a dressing down from Hong Kong's leader Donald Tsang.
The official Xinhua News Agency has reported that no agreement has been reached on the park in Shanghai, quoting senior vice president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, Leslie Goodman.