Shanghai’s financial district may soon be better known as the city’s entertainment hub. Robert De Niro and his partners are working on a massive cultural development there while Bruno Wu’s Pinewood Chinawood studio base is also due to be housed in the waterfront Bund area. Today, The Walt Disney Company China said it will open “the world’s largest Disney Store” in Lujiazui, part of the financial district on the east side of Huangpu River in the Pudong area. The store itself will be a 10,800-square-foot space housed on a 53,000 square-foot site that will also host family entertainment events. Disney is building its first mainland China theme park, Shanghai Disneyland, as the the centerpiece of its Shanghai Disney Resort which is targeted to open in Pudong at the end of 2015. Disney said today that the store, which is to open in early 2015, will be “an important site where fans can track the progress of Shanghai Disney Resort.”
Disney chief Robert Iger attended a Fortune Global Forum in Chengdu, China in June. At the time, he spoke about Disney’s plans in China and said there would soon be some 14,000 workers on the Disneyland property in Pudong. Speaking of how Disney is building its brand in China, Iger said “It’s very, very important that while we bring Disney to a market we make sure that in that market it feels like, for instance, China’s Disney. It can’t just be the Disney that exists in carbon copy form somewhere else in the world. Where we’re most in tune with this is the development and the design and the construction of Shanghai Disneyland… (It) can’t be the Disneyland that Walt built in California, because this is China. It has to look, feel, resemble China’s Disneyland. And that has taken a lot of thought, a lot of work… It has to be a blend.” The park and resort are not “just about bringing Mickey Mouse to China, it’s about looking at China today and seeing what’s popular and figuring out a way that we can have a commercial relationship with that product, that intellectual property, so that we can offer it to the people who visit.” The resort has been under development since 2005 and will be three times the size of Disney’s Hong Kong resort. The 963-acre facility will feature the theme park as well as two hotels, a lake and recreational facilities, among other attractions. In honor of Diisney’s commitment to the environment, the venue’s vehicles will run on cooking oil.