Plans for new theme park submitted

HONG KONG — The oft-rumored Shanghai Disneyland development has come one step closer to reality, with the Mouse House confirming that it is submitting plans for a new theme park joint venture with the Shanghai government.

“Discussions have been ongoing about the feasibility of a theme park project in China,” according to the statement from Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We worked on a joint application report with the Shanghai government which will be submitted to the central government for review. No deal has been signed, no project has been approved.”

The plans call for a theme park, together with hotel and retail spaces, to be built over six years on a 371-acre site near Shanghai’s Pudong Intl. Airport. A ballpark $3.59 billion pricetag has been attached to the project.

It is as yet unknown how this will affect ongoing development of the existing Hong Kong Disneyland resort. There has been much spirited negotiation recently between the HK government and Disney on how the $645 million expansion of the park is to be financed.

The Hong Kong government, which owns a 57% stake in the park, is not keen to invest more, after having received much public criticism over the park’s poor attendance records since its September 2005 opening.

To allay fears, Disney told the territory’s Legislative Council last month that “Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is the first priority of the Walt Disney Co.’s investment in Asia. Despite the economic uncertainty, we are very confident of the growth potential of the resort.”

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