Universal For Beijing

A new Universal theme park is being planned for Beijing, which would make it the third such park in Asia joining Universal Studios facilities in Osaka, Japan, and Singapore. 

Photo: AP Photo / Ng Han Guan
Universal Parks and Resorts CEO Tom Williams gets some help from a minion while unveiling plans for a new $3.3 billion Universal theme park in Beijing Oct. 13.

The Beijing park is being built on 1,000 acres by Comcast NBCUniversal, which has yet to announce an opening date, according to various media reports.

In addition to rides found at other Universal theme parks, the Beijing one will include attractions that reflect China’s cultural heritage. It will also have a Universal CityWalk entertainment zone and a Universal-themed resort hotel. As it stands, 11 of Asia’s 20 biggest amusement parks are in China.

They received a total of 166 million visits in 2013, and revenues this year are expected to be about $3 billion, according to research company IBISWorld. Another 59 parks are in the planning stage somewhere in the country, which means by 2020 theme park attendance in China could overtake attendance in the U.S.

Hong Kong Disneyland, for instance, struggled when it first opened some years ago but in February announced its second profitable year in a row thanks to new attractions that drew more visitors from the mainland.

It plans to build a third hotel on its site as well as a new ride based on the “Iron Man” movie series, which is very popular in China. Another Disneyland is slated to open in Shanghai next year and will offer a more synergistic approach, with attractions like the Garden of the Twelve Friends, where popular Disney characters represent the 12 signs of the Chinese zodiac.

Dreamworks Animation SKG Inc. is also building a $2.4 billion complex with Chinese partners in Shanghai that will open in 2017, featuring a 500-seat IMAX cinema fit for international film festivals and red carpet events.

It will also have bars, restaurants and performance venues, one of which is modeled on London’s West End and New York’s Broadway. in June, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. announced plans to build six parks in China over the next 10 years.