CONSTRUCTION has begun on a multibillion-dollar Universal Studios theme park in Beijing yesterday, as the studio looks to challenge Disney in China’s booming leisure market.
The complex is due to open in 2020 and has secured investment of 50 billion yuan (US$7.4 billion), Xinhua reported.
China is promoting consumer-driven growth, and theme parks are being built in the country faster than anywhere else in the world, with more than 300 projects reported to have been funded in recent years.
The first Disneyland on the Chinese mainland opened last June in Shanghai at a cost of US$5.5 billion. Last year 21 theme parks opened, according to Chinese media, and the “National Business Daily” newspaper said a further 20 were under construction.
Box office receipts in China are booming, with Universal films such as “Harry Potter” and “Transformers” big hits among Chinese film fans. Universal’s three theme parks in the United States have become so lucrative that executives are said to be designing movie sets with future theme park rides in mind.
The company’s Beijing location will be its third in Asia after Singapore and Osaka. It is also planning a park in South Korea.
As well as a theme park, the 4-square-kilometer complex in Beijing includes resort hotels and a retail complex, Xinhua said. Other reports said it was being built as a joint venture with a state-backed tourism firm.