Dalian Wanda Group opens the first of many planned theme parks
The Wanda Cultural Tourism City, which features a theme park, a movie park, an aquarium, hotels and retail stores, was unveiled in Nanchang last Saturday, aiming at unseating Walt Disney Co. as the world’s largest tourism operator.
Billionaire Wang Jianlin Saturday officially unveiled Dalian Wanda Group Co.’s Wanda City, the first of the company’s 15 planned theme park and entertainment projects in China that it hopes will help it unseat Walt Disney Co. as the world’s largest tourism operator.
The Wanda Cultural Tourism City, spanning 2 square kilometers (200 hectares) in Nanchang, in the southeastern Jiangxi province, features a theme park, a movie park, an aquarium, hotels and retail stores, the company said in an e-mailed statement. Wanda expects the complex to attract 10 million people a year, according to the statement.
Less than a week ago, Wang said that Disney’s single theme park, which opens in Shanghai on June 16, won’t be a match for his Beijing-based group’s bevy of Wanda City projects set to open across the country.
Wanda is trying to gain the upper hand in the battle for China’s $610 billion tourism industry, which the government predicts will double by 2020 amid a growing middle class. Burbank, California-based Disney has decades more experience operating theme parks than Wanda, and has already been exposed to Chinese visitors at its Hong Kong Disneyland since 2005.
The Chinese company is already preparing for more Wanda City projects, with a second in eastern Anhui province’s Hefei city due to open in September. Wang said on Saturday that by 2020, there will be 15 Wanda Cities in China — in locations including Shandong province’s Qingdao, Guangdong province’s Guangzhou and Jiangsu province’s Wuxi — and three overseas.
The company plans to invest more than 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) in a retail and leisure development project in France that’s aimed at taking on Disneyland Paris.
Tickets for the outdoor theme park at Wanda’s Jiangxi project are priced at 198 yuan on most days and 248 yuan on holidays and weekends. That’s about half the price of Shanghai Disneyland, which charges adults 370 yuan each for regular tickets and 499 yuan during peak days.
While the crowds thronged outside the indoor ocean park, which Wanda says is the world’s largest, visitors to some of the other facilities were sparse. Only half of the seats were occupied on one of the roller coasters, which restarted every 10 minutes. Performers dressed as Snow White and Captain America posed with tourists, while vending machines brimmed with stuffed animals that looked like Kung Fu Panda.
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