For urban development, the role of international large theme parks is obvious, especially in the development of urban sub-centers, the use of internationally renowned brands, can quickly drive economic growth, industrial upgrading and regional development.
China has always had no shortage of tryers for the introduction of large international theme parks, but few have succeeded.
Recently, the Shanghai Legoland Resort project is about to open, which is shanghai's second large-scale international theme park. In 2016, the Shanghai Disney theme park officially opened, marking the first time that a major international theme Chinese mainland the world.
This year, Universal Theme Park, the world's third-largest theme park, will officially open in Beijing. According to another source, Legoland is also expected to land in Beijing, Shenzhen, Chengdu and other cities soon.
However, six flag parks in the world's top 10 are not so lucky. Although as early as 2014, Six Flags demonstrated its determination to enter the Chinese market, but in Jiaxing, Chongqing, Nanjing and other cities lost back-to-back, the original opening date has been repeatedly postponed, so far no one has opened.
The once-sensational Time Warner DreamWorks project is no below. The planned "world's largest theme park" ended up in a tumultuous time, with dreams shattered years later.
"It is recommended that countries should be careful not to affect the development of other local industries when approving large international theme parks." Lin Huanjie, director of the China Theme Park Research Institute, told China Newsweek.
The fast-growing Chinese market
Recently, the Shanghai Jinshan News Office announced that the Shanghai Legoland Resort project, officially signed in November 2020, is expected to start construction in 2021 and officially open in early 2024. By then, it will be one of the world's largest Legoland resorts.
Located in Fengxuan Town, Jinshan District, the Shanghai Legoland Resort project will combine elements such as Chinese, Shanghai culture and Jiangnan characteristics to create an immersive theme park with a story theme. At present, the joint venture has completed the industrial and commercial registration work, project design, construction, etc. has entered a substantial stage of progress.
When it comes to Lego, it's not just the well-known building blocks. As early as 1968, Lego built its first Lego theme park in Denmark, 21 years before China's first theme park, Splendid China.
Today, LEGO has eight theme parks around the world in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Malaysia, Dubai and Japan. The internationally renowned toy brand from Denmark is accelerating its presence in the Chinese market.
According to statistics, in recent years, China's theme park market has grown rapidly, from 21.25 billion yuan in 2014 to 54.85 billion yuan in 2020, and will continue to grow at a rate of 12.8% over the next five years, reaching about 82.9 billion yuan in 2023.
China's fast-growing market has caught the eye of global brands, including Universal Theme Parks.
Recently, Beijing Tongzhou District announced that the Beijing Universal Theme Park is expected to officially open in May this year. With a total investment of 20 billion yuan and covering 120 hectares, the theme park is the world's largest universal theme park and China's first universal theme park.
However, the high-profile theme park opened exactly two years later than expected. In 2014, the 13-year-old Beijing Universal Theme Park project was approved by First World Investment and a joint venture between Universal Theme Parks and Resorts Group. On the day of the approval, the media followed up with reports that universal theme parks were expected to officially open in 2019, according to the information provided to the media by the first investment.
The first investment is set up by four state-owned enterprises, such as first travel group, and there is no shortage of funds. So for the reasons for the two-year extension, it is speculated that the main reason is lack of experience.
Lin Huanjie told China Newsweek that the opening time is mainly determined by the Chinese side, in China, the success of large international theme parks are few, lack of relevant experience, for the construction of difficulties, often underestimation. "Without adequate consideration, the official announced the opening time in advance.
In practice, however, a number of problems have arisen in the course of cooperation.
For example, it takes a lot of time to get things done in terms of the selection of design content. Especially the first time to integrate elements of Chinese culture, which is a foreign designer, is a big challenge, need more development time. ”
According to Liu Simin, a special researcher at the Tourism Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, the second phase of Universal Studios Beijing will incorporate more elements of Chinese culture. "For example, "West Travel" Sun Wukong and other cultural themes." "The design work is done by the U.S. team," he told China Newsweek. ”
Today, delaying the opening of the park has become the norm for the construction of theme parks in China.
Shanghai Disneyland, for example, opened in a twist and turn - from 2015 to February 2016 and june 2016.
However, even if the opening date is postponed, there will always be a date for the opening of the park. By contrast, theme parks in some cities are "difficult to open" and a more serious problem.
Failures are common
Zhuhai, on the west bank of the Pearl River estuary, has always had an "international theme park dream". The dream began in 1999, from Disney to Universal to Fox... The introduction of international well-known brands, Zhuhai has been unremitting efforts, but all came back, until later came out of the Time Warner DreamWorks into Zhuhai news.
According to local media reports in 2015, Time Warner Group and DreamWorks will jointly invest 200 billion yuan to build a 10 square kilometer theme park in Zhuhai.
But the Zhuhai municipal government has been secretive about the project and has never spoken publicly, when questions have been raised about its authenticity. To this day, the project has been completely disappeared.
"It could be that some Zhuhai companies were going to take over and release uncertain information to increase their impact before the project was approved." Lin Huanjie analysis.
If Zhuhai's Time Warner DreamWorks is a bluff, then Zhuhai's Legoland is completely stillborn.
In 2017, Zhuhai Municipal Committee reported that the Zhuhai Special Administrative Region Daily announced that the LEGO theme park will be stationed in Zhuhai, for which Zhuhai will upgrade the planned land for the renovation project 101.56 hectares, with an additional investment of more than 10 billion yuan.
Three years later, Shenzhen Dapeng New Area was the first to announce the "Shenzhen Legoland key industrial project selection program."
In the Pearl River Delta, LEGO finally chose Shenzhen.
According to the analysis, Zhuhai has once again lost its hand with the international large-scale theme park, which is due to the difficulty of meeting all the conditions put forward by the parent company of Legoland, Merlin Entertainment Group. On the other hand, Zhuhai is also inferior to Shenzhen in terms of the strategic position of the city and the flow of people.
Zhuhai, which has been repeatedly defeated, is only a microcosm of some domestic cities scrambling to introduce large international theme parks.
Jiaxing, Chongqing, Nanjing and other cities, in the six-flag park landing, is also difficult. But the difference is that the six-flag park is not undertaken by the government or state-owned enterprises, but a private enterprise.
Shan hydro-park Group, a Beijing real estate developer, won six flags of entertainment group's only brand license in China in 2014 for a $60 million annual copyright fee. Zhang Xiaomei, CEO of Shanshuiyuan Group, has publicly said that 10 theme parks will be built in China, including Jiaxing's "Six Flags International Resort", Chongqing's "Six Flags Paradise" and Nanjing's "Six Flags Land Park", "Six Flags Water Park" and "Six Flags Adventure Park".
However, due to poor management, in 2019 the shan hydro-tourism investment (Beijing) Co., Ltd., part of the Mountain Hydration Park Group, was frozen by the court. According to reports, the Mountain Hydration Park Group has invested in a number of theme parks, not yet opened. China Newsweek asked Shanshuiyuan Group for information on the matter, but did not respond to a request for comment.
"These failures have a big impact on the city." 'First of all, land resources are wasted, ' Mr. Lin said. After these projects failed, the city's land resources were seriously wasted. Second, the progress of urban development has been delayed, and if these projects are not laid out, cities can develop other industries. Finally, the destruction of the city's image, will also have a serious impact on their own brand.
"The final brand will not exceed 5"
In 2005, Hong Kong Disney Park officially opened.
Before that, Disney had visited Beijing, Shanghai, Guilin and even Baiyangdian, but after some research, the most popular location for Disney was not Hong Kong.
Liu Simin told China Newsweek that disney first settled in Hong Kong, mainly because of the country's development strategy. "At the time, the country was developing the Hong Kong SAR economy so it finally approved Hong Kong Disneyland." Liu Simin said.
Disney theme parks have a significant impact on the economy. In its first year, Shanghai Disneyland boosted the city's GDP by 0.44%, adding 626,000 jobs and contributing 60.6% to new visitors. In addition, it led to an increase in visitors to Shanghai's well-known local attractions, with the number of visitors to the Oriental Pearl increasing to 4.5686 million, up 16.9% year-on-year.
The tantalizing data has some local governments eager to make a difference in the blue sea of theme park markets. This also leads to insufficient basic research in the early stage, and many problems arise in the later construction.
In 2018, China's urban theme parks "disorderly development phenomenon" frequently, the central government issued the "guidance on regulating the construction and development of theme parks" and other regulatory documents, requiring local governments to strengthen the control of theme parks, to take into account the interests of the state, local and enterprises.
Taking all-round interests into account is one of the important conditions for international large-scale theme park projects to pass the national approval. The international large-scale theme park project applied by the local government needs to stimulate the regional economy, not to impact the national industry, not to interfere with the regional development. In addition, local governments need to have a certain degree of management capacity and maintenance capacity.
"China is very cautious in approving major international theme park projects. At Shanghai Disneyland, it took the state 10 years to complete the approval process; Lin Huanjie said.
In addition to national approval, investment is also a major difficulty.
According to Lin Huanjie, the number of theme park visitors depends on the size of the construction, and the size of the construction, directly depends on the amount of investment. "The construction of large international theme parks, such as Shanghai Disneyland, was initially approved with an investment of 24.5 billion yuan, and by the time it was finally settled, the total investment had reached about 34 billion yuan."
In addition, the landing of large-scale international theme parks, but also need a large number of preliminary research, covering the population, culture, transportation, land, climate, sustainability and other aspects, especially the late development of theme parks, aging equipment, old facilities and other reasons will limit the length of life of the park.
Lin Huanjie believes that China's future theme park brands, no more than five, the rest will be eliminated by the market. Liu Simin said that in the future, the international large-scale theme park will be more refined, committed to meet personalized needs, through cultural diversity, to achieve differentiated development.
Source: China Newsweek, author: Gu Hongru, original title: "Shanghai Legoland Opened, Expert: No more than 5 future Chinese theme park brands."