Queensland looks set to play host to a multi-billion-dollar theme park that could rival Disneyland.
The Wanda Group, a conglomerate owned by China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, is reportedly in negotiations with the State Government to obtain land at Coomera to build a major theme park.
Earlier this year, the Wanda Group acquired the Hoyts chain of Australian cinemas through its subsidiary, the Wanda Cinema Line.
Speaking to the Gold Coast Bulletin, Wanda Group general manager Xie Hong said the Gold Coast was the perfect location for his company to build a theme park.
“Wanda in Australia has already acquired the biggest cinema company in the country and theme parks are one of the things Wanda wants to invest in in the future,” Mr Xie told the Bulletin.
“It is Wanda’s intention to set a theme park up on the Gold Coast but this major project is still under negotiation with the State Government.”
Coomera MP Michael Crandon has backed the plan, even telling the Bulletin that other theme parks in the area would likely welcome the development “because it will bring more people into the area”.
Wang Jianlin made his fortune building shopping malls, but has positioned himself as a showbiz mogul in recent years. As well as buying film-theatre chains around the world, he has begun construction of a film studio (Oriental Movie Metropolis) and opened multiple theme parks in China, signalling his intentions to lure visitors away from Walt Disney parks in Hong Kong and Shanghai.
In September, the Wanda Group made its biggest splash yet when it opened the $2.5 billion Wanda Xishuangbanna International Resort in South West China’s Yunnan province. The resort, which expands over 5.3 square kilometres, includes a world-class outdoor theme park and stage shows, luxury hotels, and even a first-rate international hospital.
The park is headlined by a roller coaster that stands 45 metres high and runs through a rain forest. At the resort’s opening ceremony, Mr Wang said the Wanda Group intends to become “the largest travel company around the world”.
Despite the big spending, the quality of the Wanda Group’s theme park offerings has faced criticism. In January, the Financial Times visited the Wanda Movie Park in Wuhan and reported “the company is not quite ready to produce world-beating entertainment” and that despite the park’s technical wizardry — including attractions built by Hollywood technicians who worked on films like Avatar and Transformers — “some elements of storytelling and creativity seemed lacking”.
Unlike the Disney parks, or the Gold Coast’s own Movie World, the attractions in the Wanda Group’s parks have not been based on specific films or characters, but instead on generic themes like space travel and natural disasters.
Wanda’s current investments on the Gold Coast include the $1 billion Jewel project in Surfers Paradise, and the funding of direct flights from Wuhan to the Gold Coast through Jetstar.
Tourism Minister Kate Jones will fly to China next week to inspect the Wanda Xishuangbanna International Resort in Yunnan.
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