This edition of our new Asian attractions news round up looks at Wanda’s theme park plans in Paris; the Inspire Integrated Resort in Incheon; Everland’s Giant Panda investment; price increases at Tokyo Disney; speculation about USJ’s Okinawa theme park and the effect of falling tourist numbers to Hong Kong from mainland China.
By Hwan Heo (left). Andrew has more than 10 years experience at Everland, Korea, managing operations, strategic planning, budget, investment analysis and industry research. Currently based in LA, he is continuing his industry research primarily focused on the booming market in Asia with blooloop.
Wanda Group Plans €3bn Theme Park near Paris
Wanda Group is to lead a partnership with French company Auchan Group to build a €3bn theme park called EuropaCity, 10km to the north east of Paris. It has been reported that the construction will take place between 2019 and 2024 and the development will include theme parks, a shopping centre, a water park, a snow park, a concert hall and hotel.
Header Image: EuropaCity
Korean Government Announces Third Casino Integrated Resort in Incheon
The Korean Government has announced that the Inspire IR will be the third casino integrated resort in Yeongjong Island. Situated close to Incheon International Airport, the resort will provide new leisure, recreational and culture offerings and will be similar in concept to Marina Bay Sands and Resort World Sentosa in Singapore.
After considering proposals from six teams for three different locations in the country, Inspire IR, a joint venture between Mohegan Sun Casino, the operator of several casino resorts in the US, and KCC, a Korean conglomerate, was selected. The project comprises the construction of an integrated resort which will attract foreign tourism and investment.
Key elements of the 1, 050, 000㎡ resort include:
- 15, 000㎡casino
- 15, 000 seat outdoor concert hall
- 4, 000 seat indoor concert hall
- theme park, water park and aquarium
The total investment will be 6, 000billion KRW (4.9billion USD), and the budget for phase 1 (~2019) is 1, 548 billion KRW(1.25billion USD). Inspire IR is expected to open in 2020.
Yeongjong Island, known as the gateway to South Korea, will host 3 integrated resorts by 2020. Paradise City, a joint venture between Korean casino operator Paradise Group and Japanese Sega Sammy Holdings, is under construction to the southwest of Incheon Airport and is set to open in 2017. US and Chinese joint corporation, LIPPO & Caesars (LOCZ), are developing Midan City in the northeast part of the island, due to open in 2018.
Image: Incheon International Airport Corporation
Everland Korea: New Giant Panda Exhibit and Animation Content Expected to Increase Annual Attendance by 300, 000
Everland-Samsung C&T, the biggest theme park operator in South Korea, and CJ E&M, one of the biggest entertainment content production company in the country, has announced their collaboration to produce an animation inspired by giant pandas.
Both parties will also collaborate on marketing and promotion, including promotion of the animation across Chinese markets.
This agreement comes a week after Everland-Samsung C&T announced that Panda World will open this April. The exhibit facility is designed by German design company Dan Pearlman. The exhibit includes an interior breeding facility designed to reduce noise from the theme park, and exterior exhibition designed to reproduce the giant panda’s natural habitat with maximized natural lighting. The exhibit will also feature digital displays and IT from Samsung Electronics.
Everland anticipates that the new giant panda related content will drive an increase in annual attendance of over 300, 000 visitors.
Mixed Reactions to Continued Price Increases at Tokyo Disney Resort
Tokyo Disney Resort has announced an increase in the price of its one day passport of 500JPY(4.4USD) – from 6, 900JPY to 7, 400JPY – on April 1st. Meanwhile their customer satisfaction index has fallen and has dropped out of the top 10 of the JCSI list of the 400 top companies in Japan.
With an annual attendance exceeding 30 million, congestion levels have increased, and the quality of shows and numbers of operation staff have decreased. In 2003, the number of dancers for its 20th anniversary show was 120, whereas in 2013 its 30th anniversary show was reduced to 72 dancers. Long waiting times are experienced in restaurants, while souvenir shops displayed their products poorly in cardboard storage boxes.
In operations, the level of job satisfaction decreased because of a high turnover of part-time workers and static hourly wages. 1000JPY(8.9USD) was once considered a high wage in that area (Chiba), and working for a Disney cast was highly merited, however this is no longer the case.
Three year-in-a-row markups on pricing have received negative responses from customers. However, Oriental Land Co (OLC), the operating company for Tokyo Disney Resort, have stated that the price markup was necessary in order to finance the introduction of new attractions and shows.
By contrast, on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, OLC Land shares showed a strong upsurge after the announcement of price mark ups, bucking a general slumping trend.
Image: Tokyo Disney Resort
Speculation that USJ may cancel planned Okinawa theme park
While the possibility of Universal Studios Japan (USJ) withdrawing its park development plan in Okinawa, Japan has been reported by the media, the government has announced that its stance to support park development has not changed.
There has been speculation about the feasibility of the theme park’s development with regard to financing and environmental concerns. Okinawa is a vacation destination known for its scenery and landscape, with a population of 1.4 million of the lowest income households in the country. The theme park would require a big initial and continuing investment but would stimulate the local economy.
Image: Universal Studios Japan
Hong Kong Theme Park Industry Slows as Tourist Numbers from Mainland China Fall
The two big players in the Hong Kong theme park industry, Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park, are both suffering with the decline in tourists numbers from mainland China resulting from a slow down in economic growth.
Hong Kong Disneyland ends its 3-year surplus with a net loss of 148 million HKD (19 million USD) in 2015, according to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council Panel on Economic Development. The 2015 revenue was 5.1 Billion HKD, which is a six percent decrease compared to the previous year and annual attendance decreased by ten percent – the first decrease since 2009. The number of tourist arrivals to Hong Kong fell 2.5 percent in 2015 to 59 million – the first decline since 2003 when the city lifted travel restrictions from mainland China.
Ocean Park also experienced a record decrease in annual attendance, dropping by 14 percent. Attendance decreased from 7.8 million in 2014 to 6.7 million in 2015. The Chairman of Ocean Park Leo Kung attributed the decrease to the 20-30 percent drop in park guests from the mainland. Mainland guests account for around 50 percent of ticket sales. Ocean Park has been able to offset some of the decrease in mainland Chinese guests with active promotions in Indonesia and Philippine markets.
The opening of the Shanghai Disney Resort in June this year is likely to further hit Hong Kong theme parks.
Image Credit: Shanghai Disney Resort