by Wendy Wan
After decades of talks between the iconic American theme park and the Chinese Government, Mickey Mouse has finally wowed the Chinese and has been granted permission to build one of its famous theme parks in China’s largest city.
Shanghai is set to be the destination for the most ambitous Disney theme park in the world if plans are approved by China’s national Development Commission. The announcement by planning authorities in Beijing was carefully timed as U.S President Barack Obama is to arrive in China in November.
“China is one of the most dynamic, exciting and important countries in the world, and this approval marks a very significant milestone for The Walt Disney Company in mainland China,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO of The Walt Disney Company in a statement.
Disney has been gradually making its presence known in China over the years after opening a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005 with much excitement and fan fare. However, the excitement was short lived. The theme park in Hong Kong is viewed as a tepid attempt of Disney’s first steps into the Chinese market.
According to Allan Zeman, Chairman of Hong Kong rival theme park Ocean Park, the reason why Mickey Mouse failed to charm was in part due to its failure to understand local tastes and culture.
The announcement of the go ahead has therefore raised a few eyebrows in Hong Kong. Ocean Park itself has thrived in light of the faltering steps of Disney. Zeman, also known as “The Mouse Killer” in local papers put in major renovation plans when he heard the mouse was looming over Hong Kong back in 2005.
After charming his way into Shanghai, it now seems Mickey Mouse and his bosses at Disney is faced with the task of winning the hearts and minds of the Chinese once more.
The Chinese authrorities had feared that perhaps the mouse will be too much of a foreign influence on local culture. Han Zheng, the mayor of Shanghai said of the relationship between Disney and Shaghai last spring as “lovers, still in love, but having a hard time deciding when to get married.”
It now seems a proposal has been made and Mickey Mouse will be packing his bags for China.