Walt Disney Co. will hold a ground-breaking ceremony Friday in Shanghai for a long-awaited theme park and resort, sources close to the matter said.
The event could mark the end of 16 years of speculation over when Disney would begin building its first theme park in mainland China.
The $3.6-billion project was first discussed in 1995 and would be the company's fourth theme park and resort outside the United States. About 1,700 acres have been designated for the park in northeast Shanghai. When completed, it would give Disney a valuable foothold in China's emerging consumer market.
Chinese state media reported that the initial phase of construction, which includes the theme park and hotels, would be completed in 2014. The city is extending subway lines to reach the resort.
Disney reportedly would take a 43% equity stake in the Shanghai Disneyland while a city-run joint-venture company would own the remaining 57%.
Disney opened a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005. That park is undergoing expansion.