Enter the Mouse: Shanghai Disneyland Construction Begins

Work on the long-anticipated Shanghai Disneyland is to start on Friday, according to the Associated Press:

After about a decade’s worth of speculation over the plan, CEO Bob Iger and dignitaries were attending the groundbreaking ceremony in former farm and factory grounds southeast of the city, where a row of backhoes stood ready.

The theme park is estimated to cost about $3.6 billion and Shanghai, China’s commercial capital, plans for it to be part of an “international tourism resort” zone located not far from the city’s main international airport in Pudong ….

“Disney is a classic urban entertainment brand. This project will help improve Shanghai’s profile as a world famous tourism destination and lend a big boost to the development of culture and leisure industries of Shanghai and the Yangtze river delta,” Han [Zheng, Shanghai’s Mayor] said.

Both sides are presumably hoping the park will prove more successful than Hong Kong Disneyland, which has struggled to remain profitable though it reports increasing popularity with visitors from the mainland, who account for more than 40 percent of total attendance.

A Washington Post report featured on CDT last year described the eviction of one of nearly 2,000 households forced to relocate to make way for the park:

It took years and all of the family’s life savings, but in 2008, retiree Wang Quanlin finally completed his dream home. It was spacious, two stories with an attic, and had new furnishings inside.

Then last fall came an unexpected notice from the Shanghai city government. The entire area had been slated for a new development project — a Disneyland theme park. The Wang family would have to move, and their house would be demolished.

The Wangs’ uphill legal battle to stay in their home, or to get what they consider fair compensation, is about to end. The government is set to turn over the land in July for the $3.5 billion Disney project, and the family — having exhausted its protests and appeals — will be relocated to two much smaller apartments.

“We support Disneyland, but we hate these forced demolitions,” said Wang’s son, Wang Yuchen, 30, who took a leave of absence from his job as an engineer to fight the eviction. “The whole process is unfair. It’s unequal.”