Site formation work has been completed at the Shanghai Disney Resort project, laying the groundwork for the construction of a theme park featuring "fun food elements" and Chinese culture.
A total of 4.2 million cubic meters of water were extracted and 18 million meters of wick drains laid in a 1.68-square-kilometer area in Shanghai's eastern suburbs, in what project authorities said was the largest site formation project in the world.
The work has been done with "record quality", said Howard Brown, senior vice-president of Shanghai Disney Resort, adding that it marks a milestone in the construction of the resort, which will open at the end of 2015.
More than 100,000 tests were conducted to ensure the quality of the site formation, which started on April 8 last year.
"Today marks a significant milestone in the development of Shanghai Disney Resort," said Bill Ernest, president and managing director (Asia) of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.
"We are incredibly happy to begin building the resort and to develop this world-class family vacation destination in Shanghai, one of the world's most vibrant cities."
The construction of 30 projects will begin this year, including hotels, the theme park and transportation and entertainment facilities.
Upon its opening in 2015, the resort will cover about 3.9 sq km, with a theme park, two themed hotels, various dining and entertainment venues, recreational facilities, a lake and transportation hubs. The total investment will reach 24.5 billion yuan ($3.7 billion).
Ernest said the resort will feature "local flavors". Giving a peek into Walt Disney Co's first theme park in the Chinese mainland, he said a special food team will be formed to offer locally flavored cuisine.
The resort will also arrange various cultural events that celebrate traditional Chinese festivals, including Spring Festival and Mid-Autumn Festival, in an effort to "keep visitors coming back throughout the year".
Fan Xiping, president of Shanghai Shendi Group Corp, Walt Disney's local partner in Shanghai, said up to 500 designers and architects had worked intensively on every detail of the theme park to ensure that visitors will have "the best experience".
"The park will be a combination of Walt Disney's premium standards and Shanghai's best practices," he said.
Three joint ventures have been set up between Walt Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group Co, a wholly State-owned company specifically created last year for the development and management of the Shanghai Disney Resort.
Shendi holds a 57-percent controlling stake in the two joint venture companies, and a 30-percent minority stake in the joint venture management company.
Investment and profits will be split between Shendi and Walt Disney in proportion to their stakes in the owner companies.
Experts say the Shanghai Disney Resort will greatly benefit the city's tourism sector.
Lou Jiajun, a professor at the tourism department of East China Normal University in Shanghai, said tens of millions of people will visit the resort annually. Consumption during their visits will boost the local catering, dining and entertainment industries, he said.
The "Disney effect" has already been seen in Shanghai's eastern suburbs. Prices of land and property surrounding the resort have more than doubled over the past year.