Disney Unveils Shanghai Park Design to the Dismay of Struggling Hong Kong Location

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Disney CEO and chairman Robert Iger has spent 15 years trying to make Shanghai Disney a reality and now he’s only two years away from walking through its gates. He shared an image yesterday with 450 of the company’s stockholders of what the central 11 acres of the park will look like, including the park’s signature castle. This one, just to put a little exclamation point on things, will be taller than any of the castles in Disney’s five other parks, the Phoenix Business Journal reports.

What Iger didn’t get into is that the new park is close enough to serve as some competition to the one on Lantau Island, Hong Kong, that opened in 2005 and only just turned a profit last year, the L.A. Times reports. Close to half of the visitors to the park—which is 52 percent owned by the Hong Kong government and 48 percent owned by Disney—come from mainland China. [more]

One thing that the Hong Kong park is about to have that no other Disney park has is a themed Marvel Comics area. “Due to a prior agreement with Universal Orlando, Disney cannot feature the Marvel characters in its Walt Disney World theme parks, but inclusion in the Disneyland Resort in California is a very real possibility,” InsideTheMagic.net reports.

“With Shanghai Disneyland, we’re creating a one-of-a-kind destination that is authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese,” said Iger in a statement. “We believe this will be one of the most spectacular Disney experiences yet – and an important part of our future. We look forward to opening the gates at the end of 2015 and welcoming the first of the millions of guests who will enjoy Shanghai Disneyland for generations to come.”

Stockholders did spend some time discussing whether the two hats Iger wears should be separated. Three state pension funds were at the forefront of trying to get Iger’s roles as CEO and chairman split but 65 percent of the shareholders voting didn’t want the split to occur. Those who do want the split will get their wish in two years when Iger steps down as CEO in March 2015, Bloomberg reports. News of the stockholder meeting apparently buoyed Disney’s stock, which ended the day with an all-time closing high of $56.48.

“He’s had phenomenally good performance,” said Kannan Ramaswamy, a professor of management at the Thunderbird School of Global Management in Glendale, Arizona, Bloomberg reports. “Shareholders should be happy. This was not the most opportune time to pick a fight.”

On the other side of the world, Disney parks in the U.S. are getting their own updates. Walt Disney World in Orlando has now started its experiment with MyMagic+, which will eventually come in the form of a digital wristband that serves as a hotel key and allows visitors to pay for products as they move through the park without cash. The wristbands will also push personal information to park employees so that Cinderella can greet an unsuspecting visitor by saying something like, “Hello, Lily. How was your seventh birthday last week?”

The first step has been the removal of half of the cement turnstiles there, AppAdvice.com reports. Now “cast members” with iPods approach visitors and scan their tickets before letting them through the gates.

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