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IN DEPTH: Boom of Theme Parks in China. Is it Profitable?
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Boom of Theme Parks in China: Is it Profitable?
By Chelsea Hunter

BT 201804 In depth 10万达董事长王健林曾公开表示,“有万达在,上海迪士尼20年内盈不了利。”如今上海迪士尼第一年就盈利133.36亿美元,净利润同比增长11%至23.88亿美元。这样的成绩估计远超了王健林的预期。但上海迪士尼未来面临的竞争压力不容小觑,因为未来多个大型主题公园将在其附近开建、营业。

以迪士尼为代表的国际主题公园的进入,无疑会为中国主题公园业带来极大的挑战。一方面,会对现有主题公园形成冲击,甚至对一些企业造成毁灭性的打击。另一方面,西方现代主题公园的进入又必将为中国新生的主题公园业注入新的生机,提升中国主题公园的经营管理水平,使中国主题公园的发展建设进入新的发展时期。据机构统计,截至目前,中国主题公园数量达到2500多家,其中投资在5000万元以上的有300家左右。虽然中国主题公园发展前景广阔,有望成为世界上最大的主题公园市场,但其质量和内容还有巨大的提升和创新空间。

我国的主题公园的发展并非一帆风顺,其在策划、运作、建设、经营、企业文化等诸多方面存在许多问题,主要表现在以下几个方面:公园主题重复、场馆建设低端化。以至于虽然主题公园很多,但实际有名的并不是那么多。较出名的主题公园有:上海迪士尼乐园、香港海洋公园、哈尔滨冰雪大世界、长隆欢乐世界、华侨城欢乐海岸、北京欢乐谷、锦绣中华等。

北京环球影城、重庆山水主题小镇——六旗乐园、皂河生态公园等等在建的主题公园也各有特色,随着中国经济的持续发展和人民消费需求的提升,我们可以预见主题公园产业将在不断优化中迎来更美好的明天。

China, the world’s second largest economy after the US, is estimated to experience a significant boom as far as theme parks are concerned in the near future. As a matter of fact, theme park retail sales are expected to hit the $12 billion mark by the year 2020. This will be a more than 350% increase in comparison to the theme park ticket sales recorded in 2010. It is during this time that an estimated 330 million will flock to the various theme parks found within country.
 

The Underlying Driving Factor

A study conducted by the Economist Intelligence Unit, EIU, has attributed this projected boom to a rising number of middle class citizens in the country. The amount of disposable income that this set of population will enjoy is enough to help them keep the theme parks busy for the better part of the year. It is estimated that about three quarters of China’s population will comprise of middle class citizens by the year 2030, injecting more than 300 million industry consumers within the next 10-15 years.
 

With such promising figures, it is highly likely that China will oust the US as the biggest seller when it comes to theme park ticket sales by the year 2020. At the moment the country ranks third after USA and Japan respectively.
 

Key Industry Players

Both local and international amusement park brands have established their operations in the country over the last decade. Some of the biggest market performers include:

In depth 01

Other key theme parks in China include:

In depth 02

Overall, a total of 65 major amusement parks are under construction or being planned across the country, such as the Universal Park and Legoland, to be located in Beijing and Shanghai respectively.
 

Profitability of Amusement Parks in China

One cannot fail to notice the growth in investments in theme parks in the country, although industry profitability has almost been equally divided. Although the country is poised to have the world’s largest market for theme parks by 2020, it will not be all good for all industry players.
 

A 2016 local amusement parks industry performance report revealed that out of the 2700 or more theme parks operating in the country, only a mere 10% made profits. An estimated 20% operated at break-even point while the remaining 70% were in the red!
 

A local conglomerate, Wanda, recently closed one of its numerous theme parks citing “renovations and upgrades” as the reason although they did not give an opening date.

Wanda Theme Park

Wanda Theme Park

Theme Park Battles

While there is general growth in this industry, it is expected that a dash for consumers will be made by various existing and upcoming theme parks. A fierce battle is expected, especially among the local theme parks, and the international theme park brands that are looking forward to tap into this promising theme park market. A vivid depiction of this is the war between Shanghai Disneyland, an international theme park and the Dalian Wanda, a local theme park. These two opened at almost the same time and the latter was able to overcome the might of the former theme park.
 

Besides engaging in war between them, Shanghai Disneyland and Nanchang Wanda have some forthcoming battles to overcome with close to 59 theme parks which plan on joining the lucrative theme park industry.
 

New Players in the Market

As the market grows larger, many theme parks are bound to be set up to keep up with the demand and tap into it more effectively. The most notable upcoming theme park is the Chongqing Riverside Six Flags Theme Town. This is actually the first theme park to be setup in Western China. Apart from this, the local theme park brand Dalian Wanda has plans of setting up close to 15 theme parks as well as entertainment joints before we get to 2020.
 

The Theme Park Brand to Contend With

Despite this entire buzz about new theme parks, the world’s most renowned theme park brand, Disney, seems to be unshaken with the recent development in the industry in China. They notably posted excellent returns in 2017. One of the spokesmen at this theme park lauded the company for offering a unique experience that none in mainland China could offer when it came to the excitement that is created with theme parks.
 

Theme park enthusiasts would debate for hours on who calls the shots when it comes to theme parks in China as far as the command of the market is concerned. Developments in the industry seem to be fast paced and new players and branches of major brands are mushrooming both in the mainland and sea regions on a regular basis. While it may seem like Dalian Wanda has the day, internal issues it has to address seem to weigh it down as a brand. It recently had to close down one of its theme parks - the Wuhan Wanda Movie Park - for renovation after the branch had operated for about 18 months.
 

The Bottom Line

Boom in theme parks comes as some good news to the growing number of middle income citizens who would wish to spend their leisure time in a more exciting way. International brands such as Disney have to deal with local brands, such as Dalian Wanda although the latter has internal issues that are weighing it down.
 

The industry is lucrative and at the same time full of challenges, meaning the company with the best offerings and ability to be flexible stands to gain greatly at present and in future. Let us keep an eye on theme park entertainment industry and see how things pan out with a sharp rise in demand for theme parks.

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