Following 13 years of negotiations with Chinese authorities, Universal Studios has finally confirmed a $3.3 billion deal to open its first theme park in China, reports Sky News.
Plans for the park, to be built in the Tongzhou suburb of Beijing, were announced at a news conference in Beijing on Monday. No opening date was announced, however state-run media has been suggesting that it will be open in 2019.
Steven Spielberg, in his position as Universal consultant, announced on video that he will be assisting in the design of the 300 acre park, which, according to State media, has the option to expand to 1000 acres in later years. Were the park to carry out such an expansion, it would become larger than any of the current Universal Studios parks.
Tom Williams, chief executive of Universal Parks and Resorts, appeared to be confident regarding the park’s prospects and is aiming to bring in visitors both from China and overseas. “It’s pretty clear, at least to me, that the prospects for success are extremely good and it will be amongst the largest (parks) that we have ever done, as it surely needs to be, in order to accommodate very substantial attendance,” Williams told reporters.
The chief executive was also apparent in his intentions to keep Chinese culture at the heart of the design, adding “Universal Beijing will create a higher level of economic growth, understanding and cultural exchange between our two countries (China and the USA). Together, we will create a unique experience that spotlights hugely popular Western entertainment concepts as well as China’s rich cultural legacy. This will be an opportunity to build relationships with the Chinese people on a direct and personal level.”
The project, jointly owned by Universal Parks and Resorts and the Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Co Ltd, will feature a Universal CityWalk entertainment zone, including entertainment, retail and dining and also a Universal-themed resort hotel, writes China Daily.
When discussing the park’s entertainment, Duan Qiang, Chairman of Beijing Tourism Group and BSH Investment, told reporters that “Chinese people love the movies and exciting entertainment,” and he added that there would be plenty of blockbuster movie themes at Universal Beijing.
Universal Studios’ new project is just one of a host of new theme parks planned to open in the Chinese mainland in the coming few years. Mainland Chinese, in addition to Universal Beijing, can also look forward to the new Disney theme park and DreamWorks’ ‘Dream Center’, both due to open in Shanghai.
By Robert Ridley