‘Disney should not have come to China’ warns rival

Battle of theme parks looms as Wanda aims to overtake Disney’s global grip by 2020

Wanda aims to surpass the rival entertainment company as the world’s largest tourism company by 2020. Photograph: iStock

Wanda aims to surpass the rival entertainment company as the world’s largest tourism company by 2020. Photograph: iStock

 

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, whose Dalian Wanda Group is in the midst of launching a chain of theme parks and entertainment complexes across China, has taken aim at rival Walt Disney ahead of the Magic Kingdom’s June 16th opening in Shanghai.

Disney “should not have come to China”, and Wanda aims to surpass the rival entertainment company as the world’s largest tourism company by 2020, Wang said in an appearance on a China Central Television show on Sunday.

The chairman and founder will preside over the opening of a Wanda City featuring its own theme park, movie complex and hotels in the south eastern Jiangxi province that neighbours Shanghai this weekend.

Though Wang has jeered at Disney before, his latest comments signal an escalation in the rivalry between the world’s biggest entertainment company and China’s biggest as both prepare to open multi-billion-dollar parks.

At stake is dominance of China’s burgeoning entertainment industry as the number of middle-class Chinese consumers is expected to swell.

“One tiger is no match for a pack of wolves,” he said on the talk show.

“Shanghai has one Disney, while Wanda, across the nation, will open 15 to 20.”

The Beijing-based conglomerate announced on Friday that it will open the 200-hectare Guilin Wanda Cultural Tourism City in 2020, the 11th large-scale tourism project of its kind for the company.

Wanda is investing 16 billion yuan ($2.4 billion) in the project, located in the south western Guangxi region.

It will include an amusement park, a film park, and an ocean park, with Wanda targeting to draw 20 million visits in its opening year.

- Bloomberg