SHANGHAI, China - China's economic planning agency has formally approved a plan to build a Disney theme park in Shanghai, ensuring the city will have a new showcase attraction after next year's World Expo has wound down.
The National Development and Reform Commission said in a notice Tuesday that the long-awaited park would be built, as expected, in Shanghai's eastern Pudong district.
It said the project would initially occupy 116 hectares (287 acres) of land - a bit more than half the size of the Los Angeles park and potentially the smallest of the Disney theme parks worldwide. Only Hong Kong's park, at 126 hectares (311 acres) would be smaller.
"Really Minnie! Even Smaller than Hong Kong Disney" exclaimed a headline in the local newspaper Oriental Morning Post.
Shanghai, China's biggest city, and Disney have yet to announce final details for the amusement park. But is likely to open in phases, and perhaps expand, as has the Disney theme park in Hong Kong, once business is established.
Disney has said the initial phase of the project would include a Magic Kingdom-style park tailored to the Shanghai region, mainland China's commercial and financial hub. Plans call for it to open in 2014.
Disney has gradually expanded its presence in mainland China after opening a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005 and now has offices in Shanghai, Beijing and Guangzhou.
Shanghai is in the midst of a construction boom ahead of the World Expo, which will open May 1.
Some residents were long ago moved off farmland in Chuansha, a part of Pudong district near the city's main international airport, to make way for the theme park.