Did Shanghai Move Too Fast? Beijing Slows Disney Park Talks

11 Dec

MSNBC reports today that Disney’s Shanghai park plan is in doubt.

Walt Disney Co. is exploring other locations beside Shanghai for a theme park in mainland China amid concern that the central government may not support its plans in Shanghai, sources familiar with the issue said on Monday.

Other locations in China? Seems odd, given the amount of time (which of course equals money) that clearly has already been sunk into the Shanghai possibility, on both the Disney and China sides. But perhaps that’s the core of the issue, right there.

In early August, the official China Securities Journal reported that Shanghai authorities had started preparing a site for the park, even though Beijing had still not reached agreement with Walt Disney and the city government.

My limited understanding of the politics of China would suggest that Beijing might respond defensively here . . . Shanghai may have overstepped its perceived turf by moving too far without Beijing’s blessing. Of couse, it’s also possible that the real issue here is the scandal surrounding Shanghai’s former Communist Party boss, Chen Liangyu.

Under Chen’s leadership, Shanghai became known for a string of showy real estate projects, including a $350 million Formula One race track, one of the world’s most expensive tracks, and a futuristic $150 million tennis stadium.

Let’s see what we hear next . . . Beijing suggested above that they were considering other locations in China, in October there were reports in Shanghai Daily about Disney Parks looking at Thailand, and for some time there’s been rumours floating about a park in India. One way or another it looks like further Parks expansion into Asia is a sure thing.

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