Theme park fight

For­mer Dis­ney HK ex­ec­u­tive Andrew Kam joins Wanda

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHAIHUA and WANG ZHUOQIONG Con­tact the writ­ers at grace@chi­nadai­ and wangzhuo­qiong@ chi­

The theme park bat­tle be­tween Walt Dis­ney Co and Chi­nese real es­tate gi­ant Wanda Group is set to in­ten­sify after a for­mer Dis­ney­land se­nior ex­ec­u­tive joined its ri­val, in­dus­try in­sid­ers said.

Andrew Kam, for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Dis­ney­land Hong Kong, will join Wanda as vice-pres­i­dent of Wanda Cul­ture In­dus­try Group and pres­i­dent of Wanda Themed En­ter­tain­ment Co Ltd, ac­cord­ing to Chi­nese news por­tal thep­a­per.

Kam will be in charge of the over­all op­er­a­tion of all Wanda theme parks and Wanda City projects, which is an in­te­grated en­ter­tain­ment cen­ter of theme parks, ho­tels, the­aters, shop­ping malls and res­i­den­tial apart­ments, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Hong Kong Dis­ney­land in March an­nounced the res­ig­na­tion of Andrew Kam “for per­sonal rea­sons” after the theme park re­ported a loss of HK$148 mil­lion ($18.9 mil­lion) last year— its first yearly deficit since 2011.

Wanda de­clined to com­ment on Mon­day.

The hir­ing of for­mer Dis­ney ex­ec­u­tives will help Wanda bet­ter learn Dis­ney’s strat­egy and insights, said Ben Caven­der, prin­ci­pal of China Mar­ket Re­search Group.

Wanda opened the first Wanda City project in May in Nan­chang, Jiangxi prov­ince, and four months later the sec­ond opened in He­fei, An­hui prov­ince, mark­ing the start of Wanda’s am­bi­tious plan to build 15 such projects across the coun­try by 2020.

Wanda Group said more than 1,700,000 peo­ple vis­ited the two projects dur­ing the week­long Na­tional Day Hol­i­day, while Shang­hai gov­ern­ment sta­tis­tics show the Shang­hai In­ter­na­tional Tourism and Re­sorts Zone, where Shang­hai Dis­ney­land is lo­cated.

But Caven­der noted that plan­ning and de­vel­op­ing a cul­ture busi­ness is a com­plex progress, and if Wanda wants to do it cor­rectly, it is go­ing to have to form a very strong team and long-term strat­egy rather than hir­ing a few peo­ple and open­ing parks quickly to get quick prof­its.

The burgeoning theme park mar­ket in China has at­tracted sev­eral lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional play­ers in re­cent years.

He Jian­lin, di­rec­tor of the tourism man­age­ment depart­ment at Shang­hai Univer­sity of Finance and Economics, pointed out Wanda still needs to fur­ther im­prove its soft power in a bid to stand out.

Andrew Kam, for­mer man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of Dis­ney­land Hong Kong

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