BEIJING — Walt Disney’s CEO unveiled plans for its first theme park in China Wednesday with a pledge to make the legendary brand and cast of characters culturally appropriate to the huge new market.
The park in Shanghai will be “authentically Disney and distinctively Chinese,” Bob Iger said as he revealed a scale model of the new $5.5-billion estate to local journalists.
For example, Disney plans to feature The Garden of the Twelve Friends — a section aimed at celebrating the twelve signs of the Chinese Zodiac.
There will be vintage Disney, too, with amusements based on institutions such as Mickey Avenue and Fantasyland, as well as sections celebrating Marvel Comic superheroes like Iron Man and the Hulk, both of which are popular in China.
The iconic Disney Castle being built in Shanghai will be the biggest of all its parks worldwide and also include a number of Chinese touches to make it distinctly more local.
It has not been all sunshine and lollipops for the Burbank-based company, which opened its first Disneyland 60 years ago. Disney delayed the opening of its Shanghai park from the end of 2015 to the first half of 2016 in order to expand its plans.
If follows the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, which required massive expansion after opening with too small a capacity.