The Wanda Group conglomerate is fuelling the growth of China’s domestic theme park industry with plans for integrated resorts in key cities such as Wuxi and Kunming. It plans for major development of cultural tourism theme parks across China.
Wanda is responding to the increased demand for more home-grown theme parks. The group is already a key player in the growth of China’s theme park industry. It has ten cultural tourism projects in cities such as Wuhan, Nanchang, Hefei and Harbin. It says it expects to have 18 mega projects by 2021.
“We hope to create a one-stop shop resort for mainland Chinese. They will be able to enjoy leisure and entertainment culture without going overseas,” says Andrew Kam, senior vice-president of Wanda Travel Culture Innovation Group and president of Beijing Wanda Themed Entertainment. He points out that opportunities have risen as China started to promote short holidays, rather than the traditional week-long ‘golden weeks’. “This opens up opportunities for domestic travellers to venture into close-by areas for holidays.”
Wanda’s plans include the construction of integrated resorts in key cities such as Wuxi and Kunming. Projects in Chengdu, Guilin and Chongqing are already being designed.
The sixth Wanda City opened in Harbin last year. As Blooloop reported this major cultural tourism project covers a gross floor area of 900,000sqm. It combines a mall, an outdoor theme park, three hotels, a stage show and the world’s largest indoor snow park (80,000sqm). Meanwhile Wanda City Qingdao, which features the world’s biggest movie studio, opened in April 2018.
Cultural tourism theme parks “make the pie bigger”
The flagship Guangzhou Wanda City is scheduled to open on June 15, 2019. The US$78 million project will mark Wanda’s first foray into the tier-one Chinese city.
“As a key development for Southern China, we estimate about 20 million visitors for the first-year operation in Guangzhou,” says Kam. He expects they will break even in their second year. “Rather than competing with existing operators head to head, we are going to make the pie bigger. We will do this by focusing on (new types of) products i.e. world’s second largest indoor ski park and indoor water park,” he continues.
Tony Duan is general manager of sales and marketing for Wanda. He says that stiff competition in China is driving the enrichment of park content. It has also pushed the importance of partnerships to enhance experience. “We make sure we have many different formats in our theme parks to meet users’ diversified and sophisticated demands,” he says. He cites the Han show at both Harbin and Xishuangbanna. This offers a combined experience of technology with dance, acrobatics, wushu (a form of martial art), and gymnastics.
Wanda Group is based in Beijing. It was founded in 1988 and is the world’s largest private property developer.