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Asian Park Openings - June 2016

The June 2015 issue of Funworld featured a roundup of all the exciting new developments popping up in Asia. Here’s a look at where they are a year later:

Shanghai Disney Resort, Shanghai, China
Billing itself as an “authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese destination,” Shanghai Disney Resort opens its gates this month. The joint venture between The Walt Disney Company and Shanghai Shendi Group, which broke ground in 2011, marks the first Disney resort in mainland China.

Next to Shanghai Disneyland, Disneytown houses the first Mandarin production of “The Lion King” at the Walt Disney Grand Theatre. Officials say this shopping, dining, and entertainment district demonstrates “the perfect blend of Disney traditions and classic Chinese and Shanghai design and cultural elements, including traditional Shikumen architecture paying homage to the heritage of Shanghai.”

DreamPlay by DreamWorks, City of Dreams, Manila, Philippines
With help from Shrek, Po the panda, and Hiccup, the world’s first DreamWorks-themed indoor play center debuted last year at City of Dreams Manila. The 5,000-square-meter DreamPlay by DreamWorks taps into the company’s successful animated film history to create 12 interactive and educational attractions.

For example, in the “Kung Fu Panda”-themed “Wall of Destiny,” guests face climbing challenges that require physical activity and agility; at the “Madagascar”-themed “Whatever Floats Your Boat,” customers build their own seafaring boat and get a lesson in buoyancy; and Shrek and company teach food prep and cooking skills at “Cooking with Gingy.”

Designed by DreamWorks Animation and iP2 Entertainment, DreamPlay also features the 4D DreamTheatre and the “DreamStudio,” where guests can make their own animated films.

The facility aims to brings a new dynamic to family-focused entertainment in Manila, officials say, and they hope it will widen the domestic, regional, and international appeal of the city to leisure destination seekers.

KidZania, Manila, Philippines
KidZania Manila strives for authenticity. In fact, it developed activities to complement the Philippine K-12 education initiative.

Part of the fast-growing family entertainment center chain, this location—which opened last year—features 90 roleplaying activities for ages 4 to 14. Young guests can open their own bank accounts, shop at the supermarket, and even file their taxes.

KidZania Manila, a play city built to scale for children, features paved streets, a transport system, and a functioning economy. When kids visit, they receive 50 “KidZos,” which they can save in the bank or spend on different products and services available at the 8,000-square-meter center, and when they work, they can earn more.

At press time, KidZania has 20 locations around the world, with five more in the pipeline in Singapore, Russia, Qatar, the United States, and South Korea.

Xishuangbanna Wanda Theme Park, Jinghong, China
With strong ties to the local culture, Xishuangbanna Wanda Theme Park—the first outdoor theme park built by the the Wanda Group—opened in September. The park, part of the 5.3-square-kilometer, RMB16 billion Wanda Xishuangbanna International Resort in Jinghong, features five major sections (Butterfly Kingdom, Jungle Adventure, Ancient Tea Horse Road, Fisherman’s Wharf, and the Water Park) alongside the ice musical “Princess Butterfly,” the carnival parade “Princess Peacock,” and the water stunt show “The Mermaid.”

The park in China’s Yunnan province also boasts a roller coaster that zips through a rainforest, an artificial wave pool with a 4,600-square-meter beach, and the “Sky Shuttle,” which drops 60 meters, giving visitors a feeling of weightlessness.

An international stage show, luxury resort hotels, a lakeside bar street, a plaza, and a hospital round out the resort.

“These facilities are poised to revolutionize tourism in Yunnan as a whole and elevate the standard of tourism in Xishuangbanna and the region to unprecedented heights,” said Wang Jianlin, chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, during the opening ceremony. “The landmark project heralds the transition and transformation of Yunnan tourism and will absolutely become the new gold standard, a new representative, and a new calling card for tourism in the region.”

Another Wanda project, the 3.4-million-square-meter Wuxi Wanda Cultural Tourism City in the city’s Binhu district will contain a stage show theater, outdoor theme park, cluster of hotels, a bar street, and a mall with a snow park, skating rink, and water park. Officials say the project, tabbed for a 2017 opening, will compete with Shanghai Disney Resort, as well as create more than 30,000 jobs and attract approximately 20 million visitors annually.

Legoland Attractions
Merlin Entertainments has several Legoland attractions on the horizon, including parks in South Korea and Japan (both scheduled for 2017 openings), plus one in Shanghai (opening date not yet announced).

Officials say the new venues will mirror the concept of their already existing locations, including a mix of Legoland’s popular rides and attractions with features unique to the region. For example, Japan’s Miniland will display some iconic buildings and landmarks from the country and Nagoya.

Legoland plans to continue this steady growth pattern for the foreseeable future, said Merlin CEO Nick Varney at the groundbreaking of the KRW300 billion Legoland Korea. “We continue to be excited by the potential opportunity of Legoland parks globally and reiterate our target of opening, on average, a new park every two to three years.”

Six Flags Haiyan China
In January, Six Flags Entertainment Corp. and Riverside Investment Group Co. Ltd., a tourism and real estate developer, broke ground on a 30 billion-yuan development project that includes China’s first Six Flags theme park. Six Flags Haiyan is slated to open in 2019.

Officials promise the park will feature Six Flags’ signature lineup of roller coasters, family rides and attractions, and shows—as well as themed sections that pay homage to the Chinese culture.

“Six Flags will be the centerpiece of the entire new resort development and will provide a major economic boon to tourism in the Yangtze River Delta and all of eastern China,” said Che Li, chairman of the Riverside Investment Group, during the groundbreaking.

Universal Beijing Theme Park and Resort
In another groundbreaking ceremony, construction on Universal Beijing Theme Park and Resort began in November. Officials anticipate the first phase of the 50 billion-yuan, 4-square-kilometer project to be wrapped in 2019. The company hopes to attract 10 million guests annually.

DreamCenter, Shanghai
The DreamWorks Animation’s DreamCenter in Shanghai’s Xuhui district will consist of 12 art, cultural, and entertainment venues. Key features, interconnected by eight themed outdoor plazas, include the new headquarters of Oriental DreamWorks; the Dream Avenue cultural theater district with multiple theaters and music halls; a 500-seat Imax theater; and an assortment of restaurants, bars, clubs, and retail shops. CMC Capital Partners and Hong Kong Lan Kwai Fong Group also will be collaborating on the project, scheduled to open next year.

Hello Kitty, Anji, Zhejiang, China
With six themed lands dedicated to the popular Japanese character and friends, Hello Kitty Park had its grand opening last July. Visitors can explore Spirit Forest, Hello Kitty’s Home, My Melody Village, Friendship Plaza, Happy Harbor, and Steam Kingdom, as well as take in the bamboo forest of Anji from the top of the 40-meter Hello Kitty Grand Wheel. The park also has four theaters and a daily Dream Parade, and next door, the Insight Jinjiang Castle Hotel features a pink Hello Kitty-themed suite at the top of the resort property.