Editor's Note: Apparently Photobucket is doing some maintenance and the D&M pictures will be back soon. Good news: you don't have to wait for their return to read today's article about SDL HERE as it doesn't include pictures!
That's the day we were waiting for: the Shanghaî Disneyland groundbreaking ceremony happened this morning and here is a full report about it! Disney also released new Shanghaî Disneyland concept-arts - you can see the castle above - and we will have a closer look at them. But first, pictures and videos of this historical moment!
Bob Iger, tom staggs, Shanghaî mayor, a lot of chinese officials and Disney characters were there for this groundbreaking event!
Before we look at the SDL artwork, here is the official press release. Among the important informations, the now official name of the park is Shanghaî Disneyland - and not Disneyland Shanghaî - the SDL resort will open in approximately five years and the castle will be the first "interactive castle" that Disney has ever built.
DISNEY AND PARTNERS BREAK GROUND ON SHANGHAI DISNEY RESORT
First Disney theme park to be built in mainland China
SHANGHAI (April 8, 2011) - The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group, its joint venture partner in China, have broken ground on the Shanghai Disney Resort following approval from the Chinese central government in Beijing. Both companies marked the start of construction on the first Disney resort in mainland China at a groundbreaking ceremony held earlier today.
"Today marks a significant milestone in the history of The Walt Disney Company," said Robert A. Iger, President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company. "Our Shanghai resort will be a world-class family vacation destination that combines classic Disney characters and storytelling with the uniqueness and beauty of China. Working with our Chinese partners, the Shanghai Disney Resort will be both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese."
"We're incredibly excited to build a Disney resort in Shanghai, one of the world's most vibrant cities," said Thomas O. Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. "We are hard at work designing Shanghai Disneyland, which when complete will be a special place where guests of all ages will discover a world of imagination, creativity, adventure and thrills."
Today's groundbreaking ceremony paid homage to the culture and people of China. Traditional Chinese drum music, a female soloist singing in Mandarin, a 50-voice Shanghai children's choir and Mickey Mouse dressed in a traditional Chinese costume were on hand to mark this special occasion. Following the entertainment and remarks, Iger and Staggs were joined by Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng and Shanghai Mayor Han Zheng to officially break ground on the project.
The new Shanghai Disney Resort is slated to open in approximately five years.
The Shanghai Disney Resort will be home to Shanghai Disneyland, a Magic Kingdom-style park that will blend classic Disney storytelling and characters with all-new attractions and experiences tailored specifically for the people of China. The park will feature several themed lands complete with exciting, iconic Disney attractions and experiences. At the heart of the park will be an interactive Disney castle that is truly an attraction unto itself with entertainment, dining and performance experiences that will be unique to Shanghai Disneyland. The park will also contain other large-scale entertainment venues, indoor and out, that can be used for various purposes throughout the year.
A beautiful, 11 acre (46,130 square meter) green space at the center of the theme park will differentiate Shanghai Disneyland and reinforce the themes of sustainability and nature that will be integrated throughout the park. The space will also be a place where friends and family can enjoy local cultural celebrations and customs together.
On Opening Day, the Shanghai Disney Resort will be located on a 963 acre (3.9 square kilometer) site in Pudong, Shanghai, with additional room to expand in the future. At opening, the resort will include Shanghai Disneyland, two themed hotels, a large retail, dining and entertainment venue, recreational facilities, a lake and associated parking and transportation hubs.
There will be an initial investment in the project of approximately 24.5 billion yuan (US$3.7 billion) to build the theme park and an additional 4.5 billion yuan (US$0.7 billion) to build the other aspects of the resort, including the hotels and the retail, dining and entertainment area. The investment amounts will be split between Disney and the Shanghai Shendi Group with Disney holding 43% of the shares of the owner companies and the Shanghai Shendi Group holding the remaining 57%. Financing will be proportional to ownership. In addition, a joint venture management company will be formed with Disney having a 70% stake and Shanghai Shendi Group having a 30% stake. The management company will be responsible for creating, developing and operating the resort. (end of the press release)
Let's have a look now at the renderings. The one above is a bird eye's view of the park and there is no Main Street at the entrance as Iger confirmed it at a conference after the ceremony: "We decided this park would not begin with a typical main street because we simply believe that a Main Street USA might not be that interesting for people here. So the experience you get when you enter the gates will be quite different".
Bob Iger also said this morning that Shanghaî Disneyland will be "both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese. Our Shanghai resort will be a world-class family vacation destination that combines classic Disney characters and storytelling with the uniqueness and beauty of China". The least we can say is that Iger is right. If we have a closer look at the entrance you'll see that instead of the traditional Main Street SDL guests will find lush 11 acres of green space including water, trees, small chinese pagodas and costumed characters. Obviously WDI Imagineers didn't forgot chinese's love for parks and trees in blossom. This 46,000 square meter green space at the centre of the park is also designed to be a cultural hub and a reminder of "the themes of sustainability and nature that will be integrated throughout the park."
I've tried to enlarge the artwork to see more details and it was not easy as Disney - to avoid that any SDL concepts will be copy before the park opening - has released these artworks in good definition but small size. However, let's have a closer look at the castle first. Surprise! it's not a "chinese" castle but a new version of a european castle, closer to the one at TDL than to a "Mulan" castle.
Also released this morning, this other artwork supposedly showing SDL castle...
...and if this artwork reminds you another one it's may be not a coincidence as Herb Ryman did a long time ago a painting for Tokyo Disneyland who looks really a lot like this one (without Cinderella's coach).
Always about the castle, we saw in the press release that it will be an "interactive" castle - no more details for now about this interactivity - but Iger also revealed that Shanghaî Disneyland castle will be "the largest and tallest "Story Book Castle" of any Disney park".
As we'll see it's such an unusual concept that, at first sight, it will be hard to find any Disney's iconic attractions in it. But at least we can find two classic Disney rides, just in front of the castle. The first one is the Dumbo ride...
...and the other one is the famous Fantasyland Carousel.
We can see nearby others carousels which might be more of a chinese inspiration and the idea to have include classic Fantasyland rides in this huge "green space" area is interesting. But the details about SDL attractions will stop here as it's impossible to identify on the artwork others classic Disney attractions. This is not going to stop us to have a closer look at the different areas and let's begin by the lake, the boats and the pier.
Let's move to Shanghai Disneyland's entrance area.
Water is the other element of Shanghaî DisneylandLand we can see it everywhere as you'll see in these next pictures showing the right part of the park. The dark mountain on the foreground seems to be a water ride with a big drop and you will also notice the building behind with what seems to be giant crystals included in its architecture.
And here is a closer look at the left side of the park. And don't ask me what it is as i have no idea! It could be a kind of Tomorrowland or it could be anything else!
Finally, Disney also launched this morning the new Shanghaî Disney Resort web site! You will find it HERE. No more artwork in it but Tinkerbell is already there! Put it in your bookmarks for the future!
Edited: Don't miss the others video of the groundbreaking event in my new article HERE.
And that's all what we can say in this historical day. Details will come later but one thing is sure: Shanghaî Disneyland works have now began, the park looks big - obviously Disney learned from HKDL "size" mistake - and we can't wait to walk in to discover this very unusual disney theme park!
Pictures and artwork: copyright Disney