Arr, Captain Jack’s been Shanghaied! (Disney unveils Chinese park)

First Disney theme-park in China unveiled as chief pushes opening back to spring.

Disney has unveiled the first images of its $5.5bn piratical theme park in Shanghai as Robert Iger, the corporation’s chief executive, revealed that the resort would open its gates in spring next year.

He had previously said the park would open this year. The Reuters news agency quoted a source close to the park as saying the decision to delay had been the result of consumer studies and concerns about opening in winter. 

The images were released on a blog by Thomas Smith, Disney Parks’ social media director yesterday. 

"As you know, Shanghai Disney Resort is one of the most ambitious projects we’ve ever undertaken," he said, "and I know that all of you are as excited as I am to see what’s planned for our first-ever theme park resort in mainland China."

Among the images revealed were the artist’s impression of the Pirates of the Caribbean set, to be entitled Battle for the Sunken Treasure.

The Battle of the Sunken Treasure: one of the main attractions in the Pirates area of the park (Disney Corporation)

Disney also announced that the 420-room Shanghai Disneyland Hotel had reached the topping out stage, a year after construction began. It has been designed in an art nouveau style "with a touch of Disney magic and imagination", according to Disney officials.

The Shanghai Disneyland art nouveau hotel, which topped out this week (Disney Corporation)

The first topping out at the park occurred in December 2013, in a building in Disneytown. The Toy Story Hotel was made weathertight in January 2014 and the resort’s iconic mountain was topped out in December. 

Iger made his announcement during a presentation to US financial analysts earlier this week. He said: "I was in China the week before last and saw amazing progress. We just topped off our signature Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, and we’re nearing completion on iconic features throughout the park, including the largest castle we’ve ever built, and we’re getting ready to start casting the hundreds of performers we’ll need to entertain our guests. It’s thrilling to see Shanghai Disney Resort rapidly coming to life. The artistry, complexity, the magnitude, and the detail – it’s all quite astonishing."

Disney holds a 43% interest in the park, with the remaining 57% controlled by Shanghai Shendi, a consortium of businesses owned by the Shanghai government. Last April, the resort’s shareholders jointly announced that they had decided to expand the resort to take advantage of the rapid growth in China’s domestic tourism industry.

Referring to that decision, Iger said: "As you’ll recall, we announced an $800m expansion, significantly increasing both the size of the park and the number of attractions available to our guests on opening day. Even with that expansion, we will complete major construction by the end of this calendar year, and we’re planning a spectacular grand opening in spring of 2016, which we believe is the optimal time to showcase the full grandeur of this world-class destination."

(All images courtesy of the Disney Corporation)

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