China’s ocean park developer Haichang Holdings won a RMB728 million (approx. US$119 million) bid for the land rights to three plots in Shanghai for the construction of Haichang Polar Ocean World, scheduled to open in 2017.
Recently-planned theme parks all have well integrated resorts with a heavy commercial focus. Observers put this down as an inevitable result of skyrocketing tourism spending. However, the imminent opening of Beijing Universal Studios and Shanghai Disneyland is bound to shake up the domestic market.
Rivalry or partnership?
The three plots won by Haichang Holdings are in Linggang Xincheng in the northeast of Shanghai’s Dishui Lake. The total development area is 24,000 sqm. The Ocean Park and Polar Zoo will be built on lot No.1 and No.2 and restaurants and hotels on plot No. 3.
Haichang Holdings chairman Naijie Qu said the project would help the group fill a gap in the Eastern China region to complete its national presence, and the strategic Shanghai foothold will become the group’s gateway to open up the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
Located just 22 km apart from Shanghai Disneyland Park, Shanghai Haichang Polar Ocean World expects synergy rather than rivalry with the other high-profile theme park, much like Hong Kong Disney Disneyland and Ocean Park in Hong Kong, according to Haichang Holdings president Xuguang Wang.
Theme park renaissance in China
Haichang Holdings now has six ocean parks, one adventure theme park and one water park.
It is accelerating its national presence as theme parks are expected to play a key role in China’s tourism industry and have huge potential for growth, Mr. Wang said.
Meanwhile another domestic theme park developer Worldland has suspended tradiing of its shares since December 19, 2014 for a strategic overhaul. An observer speculates that it plans to expand its portfolio of local and international cultural tourism projects through investments after it invested HK$50 million to set up a Hong Kong subsidiary.
International theme park giants are also eyeing the Chinese market. Construction of Beijing Universal Studios is set to begin this year as site clearing is 98% completed. It is slated to open in 2019.
Wanda Group is also planning to invest RMB200 billion (approx.: US$33 billion) to open 12 theme parks in China. Wanda director Jianlin Wang said he intended to divert customers from Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland theme parks to his theme parks in Guangzhou and Wuxi.(Translation by David)