Photographer: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg
Travel

Motorbikes and Mad Hatters: A Sneak Peek at Shanghai Disneyland

Walt Disney Co.'s Shanghai Disneyland will officially open its doors on June 16. Built over five years at a cost of $5.5 billion, it's the company's largest foreign investment yet and a big bet on the Chinese market. But can the Magic Kingdom attract enough traffic to recoup the investment? There are encouraging signs: tickets for opening day are already sold out. Here's a peek at the wonders and wizardry in store at the 963-acre park. Photographs by Qilai Shen for Bloomberg.

— With assistance by Rachel Chang

(Corrects reference to themed lands in caption of second photo.)
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    Mickey Mouse leads a marching band through a pavilion in front of the Enchanted Storybook Castle, the largest such structure in any Disneyland in the world. The company's less profitable Disneyland resorts are a cautionary tale, but one FBR Capital Markets & Co. analyst predicts the resort will break even in two years.

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    Visitors paddle a canoe through a lake at Treasure Cove, a pirate-themed area. The new park has six themed lands including Tomorrowland and Adventure Isle, two resort hotels, as well as Disneytown (a non-ticketed area with shops).

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    A dancer performs during a parade, entertaining hordes of park-goers waiting to get on rides. Disney launched a massive, yearlong casting call for 1,000 performers who will star in various acts including the first Mandarin version of "The Lion King."

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    Park-goers can test their nerves on the Tron Lightcyle Power Run roller-coaster, described by one ride operator as the "scariest in the whole park." 

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    On the Tron ride, visitors are strapped to seats shaped like motorbikes and hurtle at high speed through neon-lit tracks akin to those in the sci-fi series.

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    Children enjoy the Mad Hatter's Tea Party at the Alice in Wonderland Maze. With tickets costing from 370 yuan ($57) for non-peak periods to 499 yuan for peak periods including summer and weekends, some analysts expect Shanghai Disneyland to attract between 15 million to 30 million visitors a year.

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    Figuring out where to go at the massive park may be less of a hassle; there's an app that lets visitors buy tickets and check the waiting times on rides.

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    Children look at a map of the maze, which like all signs at the park is in Chinese and English. The focus on local culture is among the things that distinguishes Shanghai Disneyland from prior efforts, CEO Bob Iger told Bloomberg TV.

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    A visitor interacts with a performer playing Captain Jack Sparrow from "Pirates of the Caribbean." More than one million Chinese have visited the resort's public areas, including a commercial strip, ahead of Shanghai Disneyland's debut. Disney also invited park staff and their families to its theme park during a trial run.

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    After a day of gallivanting, visitors can tuck in at any of the park's more than 50 restaurants and food kiosks. The dishes are mostly tailored to Chinese tastes, including dim sum and Mickey Mouse mango pudding.