Monday, April 11, 2011

Shanghaî Disneyland : Why Bob Iger was not the only one to be pleased by SDL groundbreaking event

When Walt Disney bought - in secret - the massive property in Florida which is now known as Walt Disney World, he had more than one goal in mind. Not only did he want enough property to build several theme parks and hotel resorts, but he also really wanted to avoid something which had driven him crazy at Anaheim, i.e to have non-Disney hotels built close to the park, taking advantages of Disneyland's success.

Since then, each time the WDC builds a new theme park and resort they remember Walt's lesson. In Paris, for instance, DLP has enough land to not only build at least three theme parks, but also to keep any hotel competitor from building too close to the resort. In Hong Kong it's even better as there is no land too close to the resort where someone could build a non-Disney resort, as the land where HKDL is now was only ocean ten years ago.

In Shanghaî it's a bit different. Obviously the deal that Disney has with the Chinese administration includes enough land to build three theme parks and many hotel resorts, and, as you will see, Bob Iger was not the only one last friday to be pleased by Shanghaî Disneyland groundbreaking event. As a matter of fact, the beginning of Shanghaî Disneyland construction means "good news" for a lot of others people nearby.

In an interesting Shanghaî Daily article called "Pudong eyes Disney windfall" Liang Yiwen reveals all of what should happen in the Pudong area - Pudong being the district where SDL is currently being built. No one can beat the Chinese on pragmatism and Chen Zhongmao, deputy director of Pudong New Area Commission of Commerce asked: "Disneyland is expected to attract 7.3 million visitors a year. Where will the visitors stay at night and where will they go during the day?".

Well, I suppose that Disney expects them to go to the park and stay at the SDL hotels, but it's not a stupid question as SDL guests might be interested to discover other things outside the resort.

Apparently, the Pudong New Area Commission "found that many visitors to last year's World Expo stayed in Puxi due to the lack of sightseeing and commercial facilities in Pudong" and it seems that the commission learned something out of this. And so: "the government plans to remove the rice paddies around the future Disneyland site and build high-end tourist sites with a 'local flavor' to keep amusement park guests in Pudong".

No kidding? They want to try to keep SDL guests in the area? What a surprise.

And Chen Zhongmao added: "Overseas tourists will be interested in the towns with distinct local culture. Disneyland embodies Western culture and the ancient towns represent Chinese culture - a perfect match ... One of the planned attractions is Xinchang Ancient Town, a water town more than 1,000-year-old where director Ang Lee filmed scenes for the film 'Lust, Caution'. Beautifully carved wooden window frames and elaborately painted signboards are common sights along Xinchang's main street, which was first built during the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Another attraction will be Hengmian Ancient Town, which remains relatively unknown among modern complexes. Both towns will be given a face-lift."

To be honest, I, who likes archeological sites, will be interested to discover authentic old Chinese cities. I've spent too much energy being angry because China is destroying most of its old areas in Beijing or in other cities, so I think I welcome the possibility to visit genuine old Chinese towns when i will come to Shanghaî Disneyland. So, one good point for them on this idea.

However, the word "money" means the same in China as in occidental countries, and: "Other facilities, such as a shopping center that will include the country's biggest outlet mall, are also listed on Pudong's new commercial development blueprint, which was released yesterday."

There we are.

Want more details? "To compete with mature commercial magnets in Puxi, Pudong now plans to add about 700,000 square meters of commercial facilities, mostly retail space, annually through 2015. A large-scale outlet mall, which will be accessible by Metro Line 2, will be built in Chuansha area by 2013."

How far will it be from Shanghaî Disneyland, you ask? "It will be about 10 kilometers from Disneyland and close to Pudong International Airport. The excellent geographic position and convenient transportation facilities will help the outlet mall attract locals and tourists" Chen Zhongmao said.

"Excellent geographic position and convenient transportation facilities"? You bet. With Shanghaî Disneyland located just six miles from this future mega outlet mall and the transportation system which will be build specially for SDL available, it's for sure "an excellent geographic position"!

And, because the Pudong New Area Commission wants to build this the right way "the government has invited US-based Chelsea Property Group, Japan-based Mitsui and Italian fashion retail giant RDM to draft a blueprint for the outlet mall". In two words, it means that on your future trip at Shanghaî Disneyland you'll be able not only to enjoy a new kind of Magic Kingdom but also to discover ancient cities and also to buy your favorite Armani underwear at Chinese prices.

I agree that said like this it's less poetic than a WDI rendering but I suppose that's what we call reality.

Part of the text: copyright Shanghaî Daily

Many thanks for the text editing to Nate Walz!


Anonymous said...

Sounds just horrible to me, sorry. They´d have to shanghai me (sorry, I could not resist...) to make me visit that resort!

Anonymous said...

Again, another great article sharing your valued opinion, so thanks.
On an unrelated note, I remember you once mentioning a Universal Studios park that was going to be built near Paris in the 90s, and was wondering if you could share some information on that.
As ever, Thanks.

Alain Littaye said...

To the 1st Anonymous: It was inevitable that others people tried to take advantage of the upcoming success of SDL.
But don't worry, if you want to avoid what will be build a few miles from SDL resort you'll just have to stay inside SDL and you won't see it! So, don't cancel your future 2016 trip in Shanghaî just for that!

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

A big outlet near by... It's going to be much easier to convince my girlfriend to go to SDL with this information!

Anonymous said...

Surely this is nothing too dissimilar to Val d'Europe and the shopping centre there.

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for the article! That's great news. Why the criticism?
Of course everyone in the area wants to benefit from the SDL visitors. If the result is more choice for the tourists, that's fantastic IMHO.

For me it will mean I can stay in good Chinese hotels near the park for a fraction of the price, go to the new shopping mall, visit these "ancient towns" and do lots of cool stuff besides SDL. With the great infrastructure it will be even possible to travel from SDL to the Happy Valley Sheshan theme park in under 90 minutes by subway (just 1 change). Happy Valley is marvelous already, and they are expanding for the opening of SDL, too. Competition is good for the consumers and it leaves the tourists more choices :-)