Tourists in China, take out your Mickey Mouse ears: The gates to Shanghai Disneyland have been flung open. Walt Disney Co. opened the sprawling $5.5 billion theme park Thursday in a bid to attract growing numbers of middle class Chinese and to capitalize on newfound openings for Western dollars in communist China.
Disney calls its Shanghai project the “biggest magic kingdom park ever made.” Spread across 963 acres, the resort includes an Enchanted Storybook Castle, a Disneytown with restaurants, toy shops and hotels, plus six so-called theme lands, including pirate-riddled Treasure Cove and eternally youthful Peter Pan’s Flight ride.
Shanghai Disneyland is Disney’s sixth theme park worldwide and the first in mainland China built with foreign investment. Here’s a look at Disney’s five other parks:
1. Hong Kong Disneyland
Disney’s first foray into China, built on reclaimed land in Lantau Island, cost about $3.5 billion to build by the time it opened in September 2005. The 123-acre complex is about a third the size of the new Shanghai attraction and drew around 6.8 million visitors last year.
The Hong Kong theme park opened to a slow start, drawing negative media coverage and angering customers with a series of cultural miscues. In Disney’s first experience with Chinese New Year, in February 2006, the company failed to anticipate the rush of vacationers from mainland China, who turned out in droves brandishing discounted tickets.
Disney said it has since attempted to avoid problems of cultural backlash by incorporating Chinese culture. A walkway near the resort entrance, for instance, now bends so the good “qi” energy doesn’t flow into the South China Sea.
2. Tokyo Disneyland
The first Disney park to be built outside the United States, Tokyo Disneyland opened in April 1983. The attraction cost about 180 billion yen to complete and is owned by the Oriental Land Co., which licenses the theme from Walt Disney Co.
Tokyo Disneyland has since expanded into a resort with two theme parks, three Disney hotels, six non-Disney hotels and a shopping complex. Some 16.6 million people visited the park in 2015.
3. Disneyland Paris
The giant $5 billion complex was deeply opposed by some factions in France when its first theme park opened in April 1992. Critics worried the park, originally named Euro Disney Resort, would encourage an American brand of aggressive consumerism in France. In the months after it opened, farmers blockaded the attraction to protest farm policies backed by the U.S. government.
But Disneyland Paris, which added a second theme park in 2002, has endured as a popular attraction in Western Europe. Along with the theme parks, the complex includes hotels, a golf course, a shopping complex and dozens of other Disney-themed sites. Attendance last year totaled 14.8 million people.
4. Walt Disney World
The entertainment complex near Orlando, Florida, also serves as Disney’s corporate headquarters. The company’s second theme park opened in 1971 and has gradually expanded to encompass some 27,300 acres.
Walt Disney World — which includes dozens of hotels, four theme parks, two water parks, a camping resort and much more — is considered the most-visited vacation resort in the world. Fifty-four million people came out last year to visit the park’s four main attractions: Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
5. Disneyland Resort
The Anaheim, California, attraction houses Disney’s first theme park, which opened in July 1955 and was the brainchild of Walt Disney himself. The entertainment executive came up with the concept for a Disney-themed park after touring other amusement parks with his daughters in the 1930s and 1940s.
The original Disneyland park cost around $17 million to complete, in 1950s dollars. The site has since expanded to include attractions such as Disney California Adventure Park, Mickey’s Toontown and New Orleans Square.