Sign up below to be added to our mailing list for the latest news updates, access to exclusive contents, and more!
SHANGHAI - Shanghai Disneyland is officially open for business as the House of Mouse tries to take advantage of the huge Chinese market.
It's one of Disney's biggest projects to date, with grounds that span nearly a thousand acres. And the castle at the center of it all is its tallest yet at about 197 feet.
There's no iconic Main Street as you walk into Shanghai Disney, like there is in other Disney parks, but Shanghai Disney does have its own set of unique attractions, like the Tron: Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster.
But the staples are there too like a state-the-art step into Pirates of the Caribbean where the likes of Jack Sparrow, sorry, CAPTAIN Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones go from a skeletal crew to "living" swashbucklers.
And thanks to a nearly month-long park soft opening, the rides can be experienced from the comfort of your home computer on YouTube.
Disney chief executive Bob Iger said this project is 17 years in the making for him as he lobbied with Chinese officials to make the park happen.
Disney wound up with only a 43 percent stake in the park, with a Chinese state-owned company holding the rest.
They company also has operating agreements for its parks in other parts of the world.
Tokyo Disneyland, which was the first Disney park built outside the U.S., opened in 1983. In 2001, DisneySea opened. Both are owned by Japan's Oriental Land Company, The Associated Press reported.
Disneyland Paris, originally called EuroDisney, opened in 1992. It is still operated under a publicly traded company called Euro Disney.
Hong Kong Disney opened in 2005. Hong Kong's government owns 53 percent of that park. It didn't turn a profit until 2012 and has since gone back into debt. An Iron Man expansion is set to open this year, The AP reported.
But there's still a lot to be had from Disney's investment there. The Guardian reports 330 million people live within a three-hour drive of the park, and an estimated 10 million people will visit each year. But some analysts say that number could be as high as 50 million.
The opening of the new park has been in a trial run since May, and Shanghai city officials issued a guide book for locals after they saw what officials called "uncivilized behaviors" inside the park, CNN reported.
Among the behavior that is frowned upon: littering, cutting line, damaging the landscape and vandalism.
When a nearby metro station opened in April, visitors went to the property and reportedly caused damage to the area outside of the park's gates, CNN reported.
And there's the added benefit of the park increasing interest for Disney's already monster-sized movie franchises.
Highlights at the park include a teahouse and what's called "Garden of the Twelve Friends" that includes characters like Remy from "Ratatouille" and Tigger as the animals of the Chinese Zodiac.
Another highlight of the new park is the premier of a new "Soarin' Around the World" film. The film is having its world-wide debut during Shanghai's grand opening, but will appear in Disney's California Adventure park in California and Epcot at Walt Disney World in Florida starting Friday, which just happens to be exactly one month before the 61st anniversary of Walt Disney's original theme park, Disneyland.
Also opening next week, the long-awaited ride that features Elsa, Ana and Olaf. Frozen Ever After is scheduled to open its doors on June 21 in the Norway section of the park, replacing the Maelstrom ride.
And while it is a time of celebration for some aspects of the company, Disney has taken a public relations hit stateside.
A 2-year-old toddler was attacked and killed by an alligator this week at the Orlando resort's flagship hotel, The Grand Floridian.
The body of Lane Graves was found Wednesday. He had been playing in shallow water at the hotel Tuesday night. There are "no swimming" signs at the hotel's beach, but no warnings of alligators.