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More than five years and $5.5 billion after first breaking ground, Walt Disney opened its first Chinese Disneyland on Thursday to crowds eager for a theme park that was "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese."
Spread over 963 acres - a space that includes two hotels, a 100-acre lake and the "most interactive" Storybook Castle ever built by Disney - the Shanghai park celebrated its official launch on June 9, a week before it fully opens to the public.
"China represents a great market for the Walt Disney Company because our stories are not only known here but they are universal in appeal, they touch people's hearts all over the world, no matter what country, no matter what culture."
"So this is, I think, a great market for Disney and a growth market as well. Obviously, the size of the market, the number of people is another reason. But this is... the biggest step actually that we've ever taken anywhere to grow in a market."
Unlike Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland, which visitors say are near-carbon copies of the U.S. theme parks, the Magic Kingdom in the Middle Kingdom gave plenty of nods to its host nation, by mixing classic Disney features with Chinese customs and architecture.
For example, rather than an American-style Main Street, the main promenade is called Mickey Street, and the 12 animals of the Chinese zodiac have been given a Pixar-style makeover.