Add Universal Parks and Resorts to list of companies building theme parks in China. After 13 years of negotiations, the government approved a $3.27B plan by Universal and Beijing Shouhuan, a consortium of four government-owned companies, to build a 296-acre park in Beijing’s eastern district of Tongzhou. There’s an option to expand to 1,000 acres, which could make it one of Universal’s largest venues. It likely will include Harry Potter- and Transformers-related attractions. There’ll be “a Universal CityWalk entertainment complex featuring multiple retail, dining and entertainment opportunities, and a first-ever Universal-themed resort hotel, collectively forming the core components of the resort,” the company says. The park will include several indoor attractions so it can continue to attract ticket buyers in the winter.
The companies did not say when the park will open, but state-owned media say that they’re targeting 2019. Universal and Beijing Shouhuan offered no financial details.
“Universal Beijing will create a higher level of economic growth, understanding and cultural exchange between our two countries,” says Universal Parks CEO Tom Williams. “Together, we will create a unique experience that spotlights hugely popular Western entertainment concepts as well as China’s rich cultural legacy. This will be an opportunity to build relationships with the Chinese people on a direct and personal level.”
Theme park companies are eager to build in China to take advantage of its rising middle-class, and its growing popularity as a tourist destination. Disney and DreamWorks Animation are planning venues in Shanghai. Six Flags also will open multiple parks over the next several years including one expected to open in 2018 in Tianjin. Universal has parks in Orlando and Hollywood, and licensed venues in Osaka and Singapore.
“Universal Beijing will showcase blockbuster movie themes and present entertaining family shows that will highlight the very best of popular culture,” says Beijing Tourism Group Chairman Duan Qiang. “It will be a tourism crown jewel, not only for Beijing but for all of China, bringing extraordinary entertainment experiences to the Chinese people and to our guests from around the world. In bringing Universal to China, we will also share the best of China with the world.”