BEIJING, May 31 (Xinhua) -- China's real estate giant Dalian Wanda Group on Saturday opened the first of its ambitious theme park projects, seen by foreign media as a move to challenge Disney's monopoly.
The Wanda Cultural Tourism City in the southeastern city of Nanchang, capital of Jiangxi Province, is the first of a total of 15 Wanda theme park and entertainment projects in China and five more internationally. It unveils the first salvo in Wanda's campaign to unseat Disney as the undisputed king, the Time magazine said in a recent report on its website.
Spanning almost 500 acres, the Nanchang theme park boasts highest, longest and fastest roller coaster in China, according to Wanda.
The Time report noted that the Nanchang park opened just days before Disney launches its first park in Shanghai, the world's largest, in mid-June.
The launch has been hyped by Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin's recent robust criticism of Disney, the Time report said, citing Wang as saying "they shouldn't have entered China," during an interview with China Central Television (CCTV) last week.
"The frenzy of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the era of blindly following them has passed," Wang said. "[They are] entirely cloning previous IP, cloning previous products, with no more innovation.
An Associated Press report noted the Chinese element in the theme park, which is filled with twirling "porcelain teacup" rides and bamboo forests.
The reports noted that Disney Shanghai was built at 5.5 billion U.S. dollars, with an entry fee at 370 to 499 yuan (about 57 to 76 U.S. dollars). The Nanchang theme park charges 198 yuan (about 30 dollars). Disney's foray into China would crumble under more competitive pricing from Wanda, Wang told CCTV.
Wanda, China's largest private property developer, has invested heavily in entertainment in recent years in a move to diversify from the weakening real estate market.