Universal Beijing Resort has added Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba as a strategic partner in order to create a next-generation theme park experience. The collaboration on the resort, which is due to open in 2021, will include the application of innovative technologies and the digitization of the entire operation.
The companies said the partnership is designed “to create a seamless experience throughout every stage of the guests’ journey with smart technology.” The park, originally announced in 2014, will feature several all-new attractions along with Universal rides, shows and attractions from around the world. There will also be specially created experiences designed to reflect China’s cultural heritage.
The Universal Beijing Resort will also include the Universal CityWalk Beijing retail, dining and entertainment complex; Universal Studios Grand Hotel, which is the first-ever Universal-themed resort hotel; and the first NUO-branded resort hotel of Beijing Tourism Group.
Unveiling the tie-up in Beijing today were Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, Alibaba Group Executive Chairman and CEO Daniel Zhang and Party Secretary and Chairman of Beijing Tourism Group Duan Qiang.
Said Roberts, “We put significant thought into the experiences we create for our guests. That experience is about more than our great rides and attractions. It’s about making it fun and easy for our guests to enjoy their time with family and friends. Our partnership with Alibaba will help us do exactly that. Together, we can take the theme park experience to a new level.”
Universal Beijing will leverage the Alibaba Business Operating System to digitize the operations and management of the theme park. Via the Chinese company’s online travel platform Fliggy, visitors will be able to buy tickets and book hotels through the Universal Beijing flagship store on their phones.
Universal Beijing guests will also have the option of using Alipay’s facial-recognition technology across the resort, from park entry to storage lockers to express-lane access and payment for merchandise and meals.
Alibaba’s local service application, Koubei, will provide food and beverage recommendations based on guests’ preferences, and enable online meal purchases to minimize wait time. Tmall, Alibaba’s premier online shopping platform, will be the resort’s e-commerce sponsor, and conduct co-marketing efforts with Universal Beijing Resort.
Through cooperation with Alibaba’s digital marketing platform Alimama and Alibaba’s online video hub Youku, guests will have access to programming about the resort as well as access to Universal films.
Alibaba and Universal Beijing are further exploring options of using Alipay mini apps to optimize guests’ overall experience including parking.
The partnership also extends to Ant Forest, where low-carbon lifestyles will be promoted and users can help contribute to planting real trees in Tongzhou through low-carbon actions that convert into green energy.
Theme park companies have been eager to build in China, taking advantage of a rising middle-class. The Shanghai Disney Resort opened in 2016 while Lionsgate Entertainment World, the studio’s first Asian theme park, opened this year in Hengqin.