China’s Richest Man Opens Theme Park, Disses Disney

Open Jaw

China's richest man unveiled the 1st of at least 15 mega theme parks over the weekend, taking some shots at Disney in the process.

The first Wanda City theme park opened in Nanchang, the capital of the southeastern Jiangxi province, built at a cost of $3 billion. Chairman Wang Jianlin has ambitions for his company to become the world's #1 theme park operator.

The Wanda City theme park brand focuses on local Chinese culture. Jianlin says it hopes to be more than a match for Shanghai Disneyland which opens in 2 weeks.

"One tiger is no match for a pack of wolves — Shanghai has one Disney, while Wanda, across the nation, will open 15 to 20," he said last week.

Wanda also aims to beat Disney on price, charging about 1/2 the admission fee of a typical Disney ticket.

But speaking of a pack of wolves, Disney is known to ferociously defend its intellectual property rights. And despite the fact that the Wanda City theme park brand purportedly focuses on local Chinese culture, there were some familiar faces at the inauguration – Captain America and Snow White, for 2, not to mention stuffed animals that resembled Kung Fu Panda.

“We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement,” Disney said in an e-mail statement Monday in response to Bloomberg News queries about the characters who were on display at the new theme park. “Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more.”

We have to agree with Disney on that one. As you see in the accompanying photo from Bloomberg News, that is one skinny little Captain America. And the floppy shield? It just won’t do.

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