Mainland China's first Disneyland welcomes floods of visitors on its opening day. Reuters' Anita Li explains why this theme park looks so different from Disney's other resorts around the world.
The doors to mainland China's first Magic Kingdom are finally open.... Almost 20 years after Disney first scouted this piece of land outside Shanghai... It's a 5.5 billion-dollar bet on China's rising middle class... Disney's biggest overseas investment ever. SOUNDBITE (English) ANITLA LI, REUTERS, SAYING: "Even before today's grand opening, over a million people had already visited on special invitation-only tours or just to take photos from outside the gates. And when tickets for today's grand opening went on sale, they sold out within hours." But Disney's bet isn't risk-free First of all - tickets can cost up to 75 dollars, and for most people in China, that's expensive Local media estimates a weekend in the park with hotel could cost a family more than an average household's monthly income. And then there's the cultural differences One local survey says the people most interested in visiting aren't kids... They're more like low-income adults in their 40s SOUNDBITE (English) ANITLA LI, REUTERS, SAYING: "China insisted that Disney must cater to the crowd here by making some big changes to the original plans. So it's put in features that appeal to older visitors - like more rides for adults, and added local culture for those who might not yet be sold on Mickey Mouse." That means attractions like a Chinese-style Wandering Moon tea house ...a Chinese Zodiac-themed garden.... and a Tarzan musical featuring Chinese acrobats. Finally, Disney has local competition to worry about. Thousands of local theme parks are in the works... And are likely to deliver up local culture at much cheaper prices Meanwhile Disney is optimistic... announcing it's already adding features to its largest park overseas... The battle over hearts and wallets has just begun.