The Shanghai Disney Resort officially opened Thursday to long lines and rainy skies but Chinese officials said the rain was good luck. Some analysts estimate the park could become the most-visited theme park in the world. Photo by UPI /Laura Cavanaugh | License Photo
SHANGHAI, June 16 (UPI) -- Shanghai Disneyland officially opened its gates Thursday with long lines quickly forming under rainy skies.
The first day of Disney's second park in Asia was attended by Chinese officials as well as Disney Chairman and Chief Executive Bob Iger declaring the opening "one of the proudest and most exciting moments in the history of the Walt Disney Company."
Iger read a letter from President Obama, who hours earlier irritated Chinese officials by meeting with the Dalai Lama, but wrote that the park "captures the promise of relationship between the two countries.
Music led the opening, with an arrangement of "Let it Go" by pianist Lang Lang, as well as a new song "Ignite the Dreamer Within," written for the grand opening. Other songs included "Once Upon a Dream," "Heigh Ho" and "Some Day My Prince will Come," The songs were performed by the Shanghai Symphony, and conducted by Tan Dun, the composer for the film "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon."
The nearly 1,000-acre, $5.5-billion Shanghai Disney Resort took five years to build and will be 43 percent owned by Disney with the rest by state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group, allowing the Chinese government a role in Disney's infiltration of their culture through merchandise, tv shows and movies.
Analysts expect Shanghai Disneyland -- located near 330 million people, in the world's most populated country -- could become the world's most-visited theme park, averaging at least 15 million guests a year, with some estimates as high as 50 million guests a year. In 2014, Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., drew 19.3 million people.