After promising to do all in his power to destroy Shanghai Disneyland, China’s richest man Wang Jianlin visited the resort on Wednesday for a quick tour.
Rather than trying to burn the place down, the CEO of real estate and entertainment giant Dalian Wanda was there to “observe” and “study” the $5.5 billion resort accompanied by Disney executives, a company statement said. Wang even found time to pose for some pictures in front of the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
This is quite the change in tone since earlier this year when the property mogul promised to squash Mickey in China under the weight of all the less expensive theme parks he was planning to build across the country by 2020.
“They [Disney] shouldn’t have entered China. We have a [saying]: one tiger is no match for a pack of wolves. Shanghai has one Disney, while Wanda, across the nation, will open 15 to 20,” Wang said. “Disneyland is fully built on American culture. We place importance on local culture.”
Wang opened the first of his parks later that month in Nanchang. Speaking at the opening ceremony, Wang did not mention Disney by name, but said that he hated how Chinese people “fawned over Western imports.”
“Chinese culture led in the world’s for 2,000 years, but since the last 300 years, because of our lagging development and the invasion of foreign cultures, we have more or less lacked confidence in our own culture,” Wang said. “We want to be a model for Chinese private enterprise, and we want to establish a global brand for Chinese firms.”
The very next day, Captain America and Snow White were spotted taking pictures with visitors outside of the newly-opened Wanda City theme park.
Since that time, Wang has opened one more Wanda City in Hefei, Anhui province, but was forced to close his flagship movie theme park in Wuhan for “renovations” just 18 months after opening.
This tour comes one week after a cordial meeting between Wang and Disney CEO Bob Iger in Los Angeles. Wang was in town to try to attract Hollywood filmmakers to come work at his new $8 billion studio complex in Qingdao. Despite the fact that he desperately wants to make movies with Disney, Wang told CNN in September that he still considers the company his arch-rival when it comes to theme parks.
“So of course we want to smash them,” Wang said.
[Images via Tech Web]