China’s richest man Wang Jianlin began his attack on Shanghai Disneyland over the weekend with the opening of his new theme park that unlike Disneyland which is “fully built on American culture” would instead “place importance on local culture” — apparently Snow White and Captain America are now officially part of “local culture.”
However, Disney would beg to disagree. After being notified that a couple of performers were spotted dressed rather shabbily as the Captain and Snow White at Wanda City, Dalian Wanda’s new theme park and entertainment complex in Nanchang, Mickey Mouse is prepared to take legal action.
“We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement. Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more.” Disney told Bloomberg earlier today.
Wanda City is just the first of 15 planned theme parks that Wanda, a Chinese real estate giant that is trying to expand out into the entertainment sphere, plans to build across China in the next five years. Wanda CEO Wang Jianlin says his parks will crush Disney because “one tiger is no match for a pack of wolves.”
Then again, he also said at the park’s opening event that:
“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. We want to be a model for Chinese private enterprise, and we want to establish a global brand for Chinese firms.”
While two Disney characters making appearances at his “local” park during its opening weekend might seem a bit ironic following that statement, Wanda has responded to this latest incident by telling Bloomberg: “The non-Wanda characters were operated by individual stores within Wanda Mall. They do not represent Wanda.”
It is true that Snow White and Captain America were spotted posing for pictures with visitors outside of the ticketed area of the theme park. It’s also true that inside the massive entertainment complex stuffed animals resembling characters from Kung Fu Panda and Pokemon were spotted on sale as well.
Wanda City is reported to have cost $3 billion to construct, significantly cheaper than the similarly-sized Shanghai Disneyland which cost $5.5 billion. The tickets for the Nanchang park are also cheaper, priced at 198 yuan on most days and 248 yuan at peak times. In comparison Shanghai Disneyland is twice as expensive, charging 370 yuan for regular tickets and 499 yuan at peak times.
Wanda definitely seems to be the better deal, if you don’t care about the quality of the costumes of the Disney characters you’ll be seeing at either location.