Government officials and the tourism industry in Hong Kong breathed a collective sigh of relief last week when they learned that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) in Beijing had mandated an area of only 116 hectares for Shanghai Disneyland – a far cry from the 400 hectares that had been widely reported in the media. As one wag put it, Shanghai Disneyland is going to be Minnie!
When the proposal to build a Disneyland park in Shanghai was approved earlier this month, people in China’s largest city expected that it world’s biggest Disney theme park. People in Hong Kong, meanwhile, suffered a massive loss of face, thinking that their park – already the smallest in the world – would be dwarfed by a massive park in Shanghai. It was a major blow to the city’s ego.
Speculation has been rife as to why such a small venue was approved. Some think it was a deliberate move to bolster confidence in Hong Kong. Others believe it was prevent Shanghai’s already overheated real estate market from overheating yet further. Still others thought there were fears that it would further strain the city’s already strained infrastructure. And then there was the spector of the impact that a massive American style amusement park would have on the country’s youth.