Editing 11/10: Following the articles in the Indian press Disney released this statement: “Disney has no immediate plans to open a theme park in India. We continually look for opportunities to grow our business and while India is an attractive market, we currently have no plans for a theme park here. Disney India continues to build its brands through four core businesses, namely Media Networks (one of the largest TV networks with eight popular channels targeting kids, youth and families), Interactive (one of the leading players in the digital and games segment), Studios (one of the leading film producers and distributors in the country) and Consumer Products (one of the most prominent players in the Merchandising and Licensing industry). Our businesses are dedicated to creatively developing, marketing and distributing the best branded entertainment for Indian consumers across ages”, said a statement from the company."
So, what you will read below was probably only wishful thinking or someone trying to inflate land values by saying a big investor (Disney) is coming to town. So far we can consider that Disney have no theme park plans in India... for now.
Some big news was released today on several newspaper from India: Disney is supposedly trying to buy 2000 acres of land near Visakhapatnam, a port city in Andhra Pradesh, to build there the first Disney resort in India. What is the truth in all this, that is what we'll try to find but first here are some excerpts from different articles.
From The Hindu online article titled "India’s first Disneyland in AP likely":
If the Andhra Pradesh government has its way, the State could become home to India’s first Disneyland.The State government has sought information on land and other requirements from a private investor who evinced interest in setting up Disneyland on the lines of the one in Paris. With talks still in initial stages, details are yet to emerge but the government is said to be actively pursuing the proposal.
A similar proposal was floated to the government of undivided Andhra Pradesh in the past without any development. If past land demands are any indication, as much as 2,000 acres may be sought. Disneyland is among the several novel initiatives AP government is planning, to tap its tourism potential. Others include water sports, theme parks, cruise tourism, spiritual tourism and beach tourism among others. Development of convention centres akin to Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), in Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Tirupati are on the anvil. The government’s tourism mission document, expected later this year, is expected to detail these initiatives. In the meantime, the AP government has received a final draft of tourism policy to regulate tourism investment."
And now, from South Report.com in an article titled "India's First Disneyland To Be Built in Vizag, Andhra Pradesh":
"Andhra Pradesh is buzzing in the Tourism Industry as the India’s first Disneyland is taking shape and is in proposal stage to be set up at Visakhapatnam (Vizag), the Financial and Tourism capital of Andhra Pradesh state.
Disneyland and Universal Studios are amongst the biggest tourism attractions around the world. They are both yet to set up their mega theme parks in India. Disney land is planning to enter India and investors choose Visakhapatnam, the beautiful beach city.
Disneyland would need almost 2000 Acres of land and govt is trying to figure out a land that best fits disney with a beach view making it one of the major tourism destinations of India. Vizag was choose by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu as his dream financial and tourism capital, with Disney’s entry the tourism will grow multifold in already well established tourism cluster of Vizag-Araku. CM has reportedly ordered officials to offer best incentives to make sure that the Disneyland takes shape in Andhra Pradesh adding another Jewel.
Microsoft’s entry into Hyderabad facilitated by then united Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu naidu made all other leading players in IT industry to move to hyderabad with the policies and incentives offered by the govt. CM Chandrababu naidu is seen to follow the same method here to make Vizag a global tourism destination. Leading hotels around the world, many theme parks and water parks will set up their operations in Vizag once the Disney starts taking shape."
So, what can we think of all this, and will Disney build a theme park in India? Here are the pro and the cons:
There is no doubt that India and its 1,210,193,422 people - the second most populated country in the world - is an attractive market for Disney. Will Indians like the concept of a Disney theme park? Although India has plenty of myths, legends and gods and don't really need new ones the answer is "yes". Why? because the energetic plan of Indians - i.e the way they think - can be playful and they will like to have fun the Disneyland way.
Disneyland is also such an iconic figure of the Occidental world that having one on their own land is almost in itself a form of recognition of India's growing power, economically speaking.
The location of Visakhapatnam in Andhra Pradesh might look too far from India's biggest city like New Delhi or Mumbai but not only it's the the largest city in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh and the third largest city on the east coast of India (after Chennai and Kolkata) but it's also a port city on the southeast coast of Bay of Bengal, often called "the Jewel of the East Coast" and "the City of Destiny", and as you can see on the picture above there is miles of beaches which makes this part of India a potential tourist destination in a near future.
As of 2011, the population of Visakhapatnam was recorded as 2,091,811, and the city not only is one of the major cities on the east coast of India connected by NH5, a major highway and a part of the Golden Quadrilateral system of Indian highways connecting Chennai and Kolkata but also has an airport connected by daily flights with Dubai, Singapore, Chennai, Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Kolkata, Kochi, Bhubaneshwar, Raipur and to Singapore. So the place in itself could be a much better location for Disney than huge cities like New Delhi or Mumbai, and probably more safe too. As if it happen a Disneyland India won't open before at least ten years from now it gives time to the place to grow up as a major tourist destination and be ready when Disney will arrive.
Apparently Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is decided to make out of Visakhapatnam a major tourist destination, which for sure will help for the deal with Disney. That said, Disney will have the final word and may be they'll choose another location.
Click on the map to see where Visakhapatnam is located ( circled in white, on the East coast ) as well as others India major cities.
The location might seem a bit too far from the cities in India where live upper or middle class Indians, the ones who have money... but Visakhapatnam is not too far from great tech cities like Bangalore.
Although there is more than 1.2 Billion people living in India, not all of them are rich of course, and even most of them still very poor ( but wonderful people ). So, the "market" may not look developed enough ( financially speaking ) for Disney. This would be forgetting that a Disney theme park won't open there before ten years and India will be an even more powerful nation, with more potential customers for Disney.
Visakhapatnam is located on the Bay of Bengal, where potentially devastative typhoons happen regularly. But Hong Kong too has typhoons many time each year and it didn't stopped Disney to build a park there...
Is it a good idea to build a Disneyland in India? After all American and Indian traditional cultures are so far one from each other that it's almost like two different planets. But so was Japan too, and we know what happen...
In conclusion, although all this could be wishful thinking from Andhra Pradesh authorities i think we should keep an eye on what looks so far as only a rumor, as there might be something else more serious hidden behind it! And if it happen, just remember that you've read it here first, on Disney and more. As usual!