Movie park closed for ‘up­grad­ing’

China Daily (USA) - - BUSINESS - ByWANG ZHUOQIONG in Bei­jing and ZHOU LIHUA in­Wuhan Con­tact the writ­ers at wangzhuo­qiong@chi­nadaily. and huyuanyuan@chi­

Bil­lion­aire Wang Jian­lin’s Wan­daMoviePark in­Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince, “tem­po­rar­ily” closed for “up­grad­ing” on Sun­day, DalianWanda Group an­nounced, in a move made by the com­pany just 19 months af­ter the park opened.

About 400 vis­i­tors paid ad­mis­sion to en­ter the 100,000- square- me­ter theme park on its last day, the lo­cal Chutian Me­trop­o­lis Daily re­ported.

The park was de­signed by global theme park de­sign­ers For­rec Ltd and spe­cial ef­fects teams that pro­duced films Avatar, Sound and Fu­ri­ous and Trans­form­ers. It cost 3.8 bil­lion yuan ($572 mil­lion) to con­struct.

The com­pany that op­er­ated the park had been dis­missed, a for­mer em­ployee of the com­pany told China Daily on con­di­tion of anonymity on Mon­day. Some for­mer guards were wait­ing onMon­day af­ter­noon at the front gate for their salaries.

“The pur­pose of the clo­sure is to up­grade the ex­pe­ri­ence for vis­i­tors,” Wanda said in an e-mail re­ply on Mon­day. It did not say when the park would re­open.

But since its open­ing on Dec 20, 2014, theWan­daMovie Park re­ceived an es­ti­mated av­er­age of about 1,000 vis­its a day, far from its ca­pac­ity of be­tween 8,000 and 10,000.

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal news­pa­per re­ports, the open­ing day en­coun­tered oc­ca­sional mal­func­tions in the fa­cil­ity and sound ef­fect prob­lems. Fre­quent man­age­ment changes were also said to have con­trib­uted to the poor op­er­a­tion of the park. Tang Jun, vice-pres­i­dent ofWanda Cul­ture Group, who was for­mer vice-pres­i­dent of Walt Dis­ney China, stepped down shortly af­ter the open­ing of the park, which he over­saw.

One of the park’s vis­i­tors, Wang Lin, aWuhan na­tive in her 30s, said theWan­daMovie Park lacked in­no­va­tive ideas and in­ter­ac­tive fea­tures de­spite its oc­ca­sional use of high tech­nol­ogy in the rides.

The long wait­ing lines and short ride du­ra­tions made the ex­pe­ri­ence even worse, she said. “The park is huge but it is filled with static dis­plays that can’t in­ter­act with vis­i­tors.”

Wang Jian­lin, one of China’s rich­est men, has laid down a chal­lenge to the Dis­ney theme parks, say­ing he aims to open 15 of his parks in China by 2020 and five over­seas. Wang said the Dis­ney parks would be no match for his “wolf pack” of parks.

Kelly Ryner, pres­i­dent of Thinkwell Asia, a US-based theme park de­sign com­pany, said the most suc­cess­ful en­ter­tain­ment projects were those that con­nected emo­tion­ally with their vis­i­tors.

“We start with a strong story,” she said.

cost of build­ing theWanda Movie Park in­Wuhan

Hu Yuanyuan con­trib­uted to this story.

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