How do you say Mickey in Mandarin?
Shanghai may have recently announced a one-dog policy to curb its canine population, but it’s throwing open its doors to certain rodents.
If all goes according to plan, China’s biggest city will in five years’ time be home to the world's most famous mouse and his friends.
Yes, the Magic Kingdom, as they say, has come to the Middle Kingdom.
The plan has been more than a decade in the making. (Read more about the twists and turns here - “Arrested Development”) Finally on April 8th, Disney CEO Bob Iger and local Communist Party chief Yu Zhengsheng took the golden shovels and broke the ground on 963 acres of former farmland near the Pudong International Airport.
The project is estimated to cost US$4.4 billion, and is Disney's fourth outside the United States, after Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, as well as its biggest.
“Authentically Disney, but distinctly Chinese,” was how Iger discribed the Shanghai one, as he stood flanked by Mickey Mouse, his companion Minnie and some 20 other characters, all dressed up in Tang Chinese garb.
Disney holds a 70 percent stake in a joint venture management company that will run the park. However it will only have a 43 percent equity stake in two joint ventures set up to build and operate the project. The majority 57 percent is held by a company owned by a consortium of government-backed local companies.
Disneyland Shanghai is located in a city where luxury property prices have risen more than 40%, at a rate faster than anywhere else in the world. With a Gross Domestic Product of US$252 billion, it runs neck-and-neck with Shenzhen as China's richest city.
The metropolis of 22 million people is home to China's burgeoning middle class. It is also a popular destination for China's huge domestic tourism market. When the World Expo 2010 was held in the city, it attracted more than 73 million visitors. A vast majority were from China itself. Chinese tourists also represent a significant portion of the visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland.
In case you’re wondering, Mickey Mouse goes by the name 米老鼠 Mee Low (rhymes with 'cow') Shoo in Mandarin, making him a “rice”米 mouse 老鼠.