Riding the wave

Updated: 2016-06-10 08:30

By Hu Yuanyuan(China Daily Europe)

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 Riding the wave

Wanda City complex in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, includes an outdoor, China-themed amusement park; an indoor shopping mall; and the world's largest ocean park. [Photos provided to China Daily]

"I've noticed an incredible amount of Disney marketing in Beijing shopping malls ahead of the (Shanghai park) opening," he adds. "I see how they are 'Chinafying' their approach, from using Asian imagery to the music they play."

CBRE's Ji says the Nanchang site is the latest step in Wanda's efforts to transform from being a property developer to a theme park operator. At the start of this year, the company slashed its property sales target by 40 percent, while its top executives have announced plans to open 15 to 20 Wanda Cities on the mainland as well as five overseas by 2020.

Wanda signed a deal in February with French retailer Auchan Group to develop a 3 billion euros ($3.4 billion) project called EuropaCity, which will be built adjacent to Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.

"This will mean competition for Disneyland Paris," Ji says. "I believe Wanda's international theme parks will also be attractive for Chinese travelers abroad."

And it's not just Wanda and Disney that are jumping on the theme park bandwagon in China. Along with established domestic players like Happy Valley, Chimelong and Fantawild, many other international companies are eying the market.

Universal Studios Inc has said it wants to open a site in Beijing, while Six Flags has teamed up with Riverside Investment Group, a Beijing real estate developer, to build a number of Six Flags parks across the mainland over the next decade.