Employees wave to tourists during the opening ceremony of the Shanghai Disneyland at the Shanghai Disney Resort in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 16 June 2016.
Walt Disney Co. opened its Shanghai theme park Thursday (16 June 2016), its first in mainland China, with speeches by Communist Party leaders, a Chinese children's choir, Sleeping Beauty and other Disney characters. Chinese vice premier Wang Yang joined Disney CEO Bob Iger in cutting a red ribbon as the park opened, signaling the ruling party's endorsement of the $5.5 billion investment in promoting tourism and other service industries at a time of slowing economic growth. They read out letters of congratulations from the Chinese and American presidents, Xi Jinping and Barack Obama. Shanghai Disneyland gives the Hollywood giant a chance to burnish the brand behind "Frozen" in the world's most populous film market and to revive its struggling international theme park business. "This is one of the proudest and most exciting moments in the history of the Walt Disney Co.," said Iger, speaking after the kids choir sang "When You Wish Upon a Star." Later, actors dressed as Sleeping Beauty, Donald Duck and other Disney characters danced on stage.