A senior official with the International Academy of Tourism has claimed that Shanghai Disneyland will attract between 10 and 15 million visitors per year when it opens.
Xinhua reports that director Alastair Morrison made the claim at an international tourism seminar this week. If the prediction proves to be accurate, then Shanghai Disneyland's popularity could dwarf that of Hong Kong Disneyland, which attracted 5.2 million visitors in its 2009/10 fiscal year.
Morrison claims that the huge population in the Yangtze River Delta will support a large number of day-trips to Shanghai Disneyland, although Disney and its partners on the project will ultimately hope to attract guests for longer stays. The first park at the resort is expected to throw open its gates in 2015 or 2016.
More than 10 Chinese companies are in line to sign investment contracts with the Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone, a complex based around the Disney resort. Many of these are state-owned utilities, which could help fund the massive $4.4 billion cost of building the first phase of Shanghai Disneyland.
The Shangai Disneyland Resort is set to host one of the most unique Disney parks built to date. It will be the first "Magic Kingdom-style" park not to feature a Main Street, USA at its entrance. Instead, it will include an 11 acre entry area featuring water elements, trees and costumed characters. However, some traditional features such as a Dumbo The Flying Elephant ride and a carousel do appear in concept artwork.
As with its previous overseas resorts in Tokyo, Paris and Hong Kong, Disney has secured a local partner to help fund the Shanghai resort. It is set to be majority-owned by the Chinese government, which will take a 57% stake. The resort will be Disney's fourth outside of the US, after Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland.