Shanghai's Disneyland officially opened its gates to visitors on Thursday. Despite the stormy weather, thousands thronged the themed park as the day began, Disney's first in China, with some arriving as early as 4.30 am.

The 960-acre park is a joint venture of Disney and the Chinese government, and is being developed at a cost of $5.5-billion theme by China's state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group. This means the company and the government will share in the profits and have a major say in how things look and how they function in the park. "From the moment they enter, everything they see and experience, the attractions, the food, the entertainment, down to the smallest level of detail, is instantly recognisable not only as authentically Disney, but as distinctly Chinese," he said.

The park has been built along the same lines as those in other parts of the world. A few rides are replicas of popular ones in other Disneylands, while others are unique to China. While some might consider Disneyland a capitalist playground, the park managed to garner support from China's communist party members, as around 1,000 of them joined the celebrations. Even the park's Mickey Mouse, known locally as Me Low Shoe, is communist-approved.

Here are some of the first pictures from the park.