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Friday, 19 July, 2002, 10:33 GMT 11:33 UK
Disney tipped to open Shanghai park
Chinese trolleybus
China is a target for entertainment firms everywhere
Entertainment giant Walt Disney has signed a tentative deal to build its fourth Asian theme park in the Chinese city of Shanghai, the Hong Kong Economic Times has reported.

Disney abroad
Tokyo Disneyland: Opened 1983, 17 million annual visitors
Disneyland Paris: Opened 1992, 12 million annual visitors
Tokyo DisneySea: Opened 2001, 8 million annual visitors expected
Walt Disney Studios, Paris: Opened 2002, 5 million annual visitors expected
Neither the company nor the Shanghai government has yet confirmed the report, but Shanghai has long been high on Disney's list of target destinations.

Disney has boosted its Asian presence in recent years, announcing plans for a new park in Hong Kong, and investing heavily last year to add a new park in its 20-year-old Tokyo Disney Resort.

Three years ago, when Disney signed its deal to enter the Hong Kong market, the city government of Shanghai was hoping it would simultaneously set up shop there, but the US firm left its options open.

"We have always stated that two parks in China is a possibility in the future," a Disney spokesman said.

Tale of three cities

According to the newspaper, Disney is still wavering between Shanghai - China's most prosperous city - and Beijing.

Tokyo DisneySea
Disney recently boosted its Tokyo theme park
Until this report, it seemed more likely to opt for the capital, despite its lower average incomes.

A park in Shanghai, not a huge distance by Chinese standards from Hong Kong, could draw visitors away from a park on the territory.

The $1.8bn planned investment in Disney's Hong Kong park is based on the assumption that it will draw huge volumes of visitors from the mainland.

The Hong Kong government is firm in its opposition to a Shanghai park, and even Shanghai authorities have questioned whether it would be economically viable.

Asian dreams

Disney sees Asia as the key growth market for its otherwise mature theme parks business.

Disney logo
Disney needs international sites to keep growing
The region's dense population, rising incomes and proven taste for public amusements has made it a target for multinational entertainment companies.

But things have not always run smoothly.

Tokyo Disneyland is well established, but has been hit hard by the country's decade-long economic slump.

Disney's Hong Kong park, not due to open until 2006, has already hit all sorts of problems.

Environmentalists are angered by the water pollution caused by the early stages of construction, and taxpayers grumble that their money is going to subsidise a private-sector venture, including building a dedicated rail link at public expense.

See also:

15 Mar 02 | Entertainment
04 Sep 01 | Business
08 Jun 01 | Business
08 Jun 01 | Americas
28 Mar 01 | Business
19 Jan 01 | Entertainment
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