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New Disney theme park planned in Shanghai
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A scene at Hong Kong Disneyland. China's first Disney park opened in 2005. Deng Yongan 

The Walt Disney Co is expected to submit plans to the Chinese government to build a theme park in Shanghai soon.

Construction of the park is expected to boost infrastructure construction and tourism in the city and could benefit adjacent cities.

However, it is still too early to gauge the impact on property, analysts said.

"We worked on a joint application report with the Shanghai government which would be submitted to the central government for review soon," said Leslie Goodman, executive vice president for public affairs, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in an emailed statement.

Goodman said the discussions about the feasibility of a theme park project in the country are still proceeding.

The US-based entertainment giant was working with Shanghai government to construct a $3.59 billion park, in which Disney planned to hold a 43 percent stake, according to a Wall Street Journal report, citing an unidentified person close to the project. The report said the second park in China is slated to open by 2014.

If one were to compare the Shanghai park with Hong Kong Disneyland, the park would help drive businesses like hotels, infrastructure construction and transportation, said Chang Jiang Securities in a research note.

"Before the park is established, the construction of the infrastructure to support the park will be more significant to the property sector," said Michael Klibaner, head of research, Jones Lang LaSalle, Shanghai. As the Shanghai Disneyland is supposed to spread over an area larger than the park in Hong Kong, the tourism capacity in the park will be accordingly bigger, said Chen Xian, economist, Shanghai Jiao Tong University.

However, the park may not help much in reviving the sagging property sector.

The direct impact on realty would not be too much as a theme park would attract more tourists rather than residents, said Hingyin Lee, director of research and advisory at Colliers International in East China.

"The remote timing of the project is another factor that would impact the property market," Lee added.

Business leaders from Hong Kong are, however, not perturbed by the impending threat from the Shanghai park.

"The Hong Kong Disneyland will have its loyal customers from southern China, and I'm sure Guangdong residents would prefer Hong Kong to Shanghai," said Cathy Yuen, spokeswoman, Hong Tai Travel Agent.

The announcement did spur the shares of related companies yesterady. Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone Development Ltd advanced to close at 10.52 yuan.

(China Daily January 13, 2009)

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