PHASE 1 of Shanghai Disneyland will cost a total of 24.5 billion yuan (US$3.73 billion), Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng said in Beijing yesterday.

"I have read some media reports about the Disneyland investment, but they were incorrect," said Han, who was attending the ongoing annual parliamentary session in Beijing.

"I thereby clarify the figure seriously. The approved investment for the first phase of the Disneyland project is 24.5 billion yuan," he said.

The long-awaited theme park project in Shanghai was launched in November last year, when the state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group Co Ltd signed a deal with the Walt Disney Co.

It will be the first Disneyland theme park on the Chinese mainland and sixth in the world, and the United States entertainment giant's third theme park in Asia after Tokyo and Hong Kong.

The Shanghai International Tourism Resort Administrative Committee will manage the project.

The first phase of the amusement park in the Pudong New Area is expected to attract 7.3 million visitors a year when it opens in 2015.

Shanghai Disneyland will feature three theme parks - "Magic Kingdom," which has already been announced, and possibly "Epcot" and "Animal Kingdom."

A draft plan unveiled by the Disney company showed water to be a major feature of the park with numerous lakes and creeks and a castle and a mountain.

Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, has described the park as the "most exciting opportunity since Walt first bought land in Florida in 1964."

The Shanghai government regards the Disney Park project as an important step in its bid to build the city into a world-class tourist destination in the next five years.

The city government recently announced plans to build a dedicated Disneyland Metro line. The subway service will have three stops including a terminal station called the Disneyland Stop.

The first phase of the park will cover about 1.16 square kilometers while service facilities such as parking lots and dining areas will occupy up to 2.74 square kilometers. Construction could begin as early as May while work on roads surrounding the site has been ongoing for months.

About 2,000 households and 297 enterprises have been relocated from the site to make way for the park.