$3.7 billion theme park to open in 2015

Disney’s long-awaited theme park in China’s financial capital, Shanghai, is expected to break ground Friday, and the $3.7 billion park will open for business in 2015.

Disney, the Administrative Commission of Shanghai Intl. Tourism and Resorts Zone Shanghai Shendi issued an invitation to a “special event” at the site without giving any further details. But it’s widely expected to be an opening ceremony with Disney CEO Robert Iger in attendance.

The park, in the city’s Pudong district in the northeast, will be built on 2.7 square miles that the city has designated as a tourist destination, and will feature the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Animal Kingdom.

Disney is expected to take a 43% stake in the Shanghai Disneyland, while a joint-venture company operated by the city of Shanghai will own the remaining 57%.

The first phase of the government project covers 1.5 square miles and includes two hotels, a commercial and restaurant complex, car parks, a lake and commuter stations, according to the plan.

The municipality will extend two subway lines connecting to the site, according to previously issued plans.

City officials said the first phase would cost $3.7 billion, and the park is expected to attract 7.3 million visitors a year when it opens.

Disney has been negotiating to open a park in mainland China since the late 1990s.

The attraction will be its third theme park in Asia, after Tokyo and Hong Kong, which opened in 2005 and is now being upgraded to boost visitor numbers.

Disney employs more than 600 people and markets its products in more than 25 cities in China. It operates an English-language teaching center in Shanghai for children.

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