The mayor of Shanghai has revealed that construction of the planned Shanghai Disneyland could take 5 or 6 years, pushing the opening date to 2015 at the earliest.
Disney and its Chinese partners received the go-ahead to pursue the Shanghai project in November last year. At the time, the company said that the park was unlikely to be operating before 2014, and the mayor's claims would seem to indicate the 2015 or 2016 are more likely targets.
The protracted development of Shanghai Disneyland has already extended for a decade since the first talks took place between Disney and the Chinese authorities. However, news of a later opening date is likely to be met with delight in Hong Kong, where struggling Hong Kong Disneyland will have more time to prepare itself for the additional competition.
Shanghai Disneyland will initially occupy 286 acres of land in the Pudong area, making it 24 acres smaller than the existing Hong Kong Disneyland resort. The Shanghai resort had initially been expected to be nearly 3 times larger - sparking concern over how the Hong Kong park would be able to compete. However, Disney is likely to follow its standard practice of gradual expansion at Shanghai.
The Hong Kong park is looking to expand aggressively over the next few years in order to drive up attendance and turn around 2009's losses of $170 million. Currently Disney's smallest park, it aims to complete an ambitious plan to add three new themed lands by 2014. The Hong Kong government, which owns 57% of the park, hopes to increase annual attendance from 4.5 million to 8.4 million by 2015 following the expansion.
Shanghai Disneyland will be Disney's fourth resort outside of the US, after Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.
You can keep up to date with the latest confirmed and rumored opening dates for new attractions over at Theme Park Tourist's "New Attraction Watch" section.