Walt Disney Co.’s first signature theme park in mainland China is set to open June 16, the company said in a statement Tuesday. The resort, worth $5.5 billion, was built as a joint venture between Disney and state-run consortium Shanghai Shendi Group.
The Shanghai Disney Resort, the company’s sixth Disney theme park, features the company’s tallest castle, two hotels and a pirate-themed area, and stretches across 936 acres — thrice the size of Disneyland in Hong Kong.
Originally slated to open last year, the park spent almost a decade in the planning stage and dealt with many setbacks since. In 2002, the company signed a letter of intent with the Shanghai government, where Chinese President Xi Jinping was a rising official at the time. The deal envisioned the theme park opening in 2008, but construction finally began in April 2011.
The project, which represents Disney’s long-term bet on China, is set to open amid the country’s slowest economic expansion in 25 years. However, this has done little to dim Disney CEO Bob Iger’s optimism for the project.
“We’re very bullish on China,” Iger said in a December interview with Bloomberg TV. “We actually believe that the Chinese consumer is still spending. And the Chinese consumer represents, as far as we’re concerned, a great market for our company,” he added.
By 2018, the property could generate $165 million in earnings, from annual revenue of $1.4 billion, Macquarie Capital analyst Tim Nollen told Bloomberg.
Theme parks are Disney’s second-largest business after television. Last fiscal year, revenue from theme parks grew 7 percent to $16.1 billion. However the growth has been driven largely by its theme parks in the U.S. while its Hong Kong and Paris properties have seen sluggish growth in 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported.