Movie park closed for ‘upgrading’
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.