After a long wait, Mickey’s new home in China is officially under construction. The iconic mouse joined Disney CEO Robert Iger and top Shanghai officials—as well as Goofy, Princess Jasmine, and other friends—for a groundbreaking ceremony today at the future site of Shanghai Disneyland, the Los Angeles Times reports. The $3.7 billion undertaking marks “a defining moment in our company's history,” Iger told crowds. It will be “both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.”
It’s a joint project with state-owned Chinese firms known collectively as the Shanghai Shendi Group. Little has been revealed about its layout, but it won’t have the usual Main Street entrance; instead, there will be 11 acres of green space and the biggest Storybook Castle yet. The “role model” park, scheduled to open in 2014, “will improve Shanghai's international profile as a world famous tourist destination,” said Shanghai’s mayor. For Disney, meanwhile, it means access to a burgeoning consumer market: Some 330 million people live within three hours of the future park.