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Thread: Chinese Theme Parks

  1. #16
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    I went to the Sino-centric version of "It's a Small World" in Shenzen.
    Here's a link to the place:

    http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractio...Guangdong.html

    All the local folks were having a great time! Unfortunately I didn't share
    any of their cultural knowledge and had nothing to get nostalgic over
    with any of the attractions whatsoever. Lesson learned!

  2. #17
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    Iron Heroes Military Theme Park

    Well this sounds fun. What a great place to take the kiddies.
    Military theme park a big bang for fans
    Updated: 2012-06-14 08:14
    By Zheng Xin ( China Daily)

    Want to fly a fighter jet? How about plumb the depths in a submarine? Or perhaps you'd like to run about in full army fatigues, shooting at your pals?

    Well, you'll soon be able to, at Beijing's newest attraction: Iron Heroes Military Theme Park.

    Covering about 20,000 square meters in Olympic Forest Park, the park has military exhibitions, re-created battle zones, high-tech simulators and mock war games.

    "Visitors can experience a ride in a J-20 stealth jet, or the navy's proposed 095 nuclear-powered submarine," said Zheng Changjiang, director of Yueshikong, which has set up the park in cooperation with the China Association for Culture-Promoting Industry and the Chinese Academy of Sciences' science communication research center.

    Military theme park a big bang for fans

    "By recreating battle scenes, military buffs and other visitors will be thrilled by the hyper-reality experience," Zheng said. "In addition, the explanation and interpretation by military experts at the park will add to visitors' knowledge."

    Ma Chenxue, a bank clerk in Tianjin, has been a military enthusiast since boyhood. He said he has been looking forward to such a park for too long.

    "There are several military parks in China, but they are either museums with square-toed military history or amusement arcades for kids," he said. "This is a pioneering work in that the theme park combines knowledge and fun."

    As well as being able to take part in interactive games, visitors can also learn through the trip.

    The Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution has provided about 100 models of the most advanced weapons and military equipment, including an Apache helicopter, a Humvee and a Type 99 tank.

    Wang Guoji, deputy director of the China Association for the Culture-Promoting Industry, said the park will help popularize the science and consciousness of national defense.

    "Besides providing firsthand experience for military enthusiasts, the military theme park will get more of the public interested in the field," said Wang.

    With an investment of about 20 million yuan ($3.14 million), Zheng, whose father is a soldier and has been interested in war movies since childhood, said the park is also a fulfillment of his own dream.

    "I had always longed to be a member of the air force and being in the park makes the dream come true, for a while at least," he said. "Hopefully all the other military fans can feel their dreams come true."
    Gene Ching
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  3. #18
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    Slightly OT

    KFP theme park? From China, Abu Dhabi and Dubai to Jersey just feels like a fail.
    DreamWorks Animation Announces Plans for Meadowlands Amusement Park
    By CHARLES V. BAGLI
    Published: July 10, 2012

    The Hollywood studio DreamWorks Animation has struck a deal to bring Shrek, Kung Fu Panda and other animated movie characters to a planned amusement park as part of a revived entertainment and retail mall in the New Jersey Meadowlands.

    It would be the first theme park based on the studio’s animated movies since DreamWorks’s earlier plans for parks in China, Abu Dhabi and Dubai failed to work out. DreamWorks has sought to capitalize on the huge popularity of its films, much as Disney and Universal Studios have in the United States, Europe and Asia. The indoor theme park would include rides, attractions and a glass-enclosed wave pool incorporating characters from the studio’s movies.

    The partnership between the developer, Triple Five, and DreamWorks is a rare bit of good news for a site that has sat vacant and unfinished since May 2009, when the previous developers ran out of money after spending $1.9 billion on a five-story complex just west of Manhattan, near MetLife Stadium, called Xanadu.

    In a statement Tuesday evening, Jeffrey Katzenberg, chief executive of DreamWorks Animation, confirmed the deal, saying the theme park would involve the studio’s “characters, storytelling and technology in a unique and innovative family entertainment experience.”

    Triple Five, the developer of the Mall of America, has renamed the project American Dream and drawn up plans to make it even bigger, with nearly 1.7 million square feet of retail space, an indoor ski hill, indoor sky diving, bowling, an aquarium, a live theater and the 14.7-acre amusement park.

    But the project continues to be dogged by delays. In announcing a tentative agreement between the current owners and Triple Five in May 2011, Gov. Chris Christie said he expected the developer to strike a deal with the owners and get financing for the project by the end of 2011 so that American Dream could be open for the 2014 Super Bowl at MetLife Stadium. But executives working with Triple Five now say that $1.75 billion in financing will not be completed until October and that the complex will not open until September 2014, seven months after the Super Bowl.

    Triple Five, which is owned by the Ghermezian family, has built two of the world’s largest and most successful entertainment malls. But the company faces special challenges in the Meadowlands, the least of which are the local blue laws that prohibit retail activity on Sundays.

    Many retailers say they are reluctant to get involved with the project because of its troubled history. “There were enough false starts that retailers want to see some substance,” said Ron DeLuca, a partner at R. J. Brunelli & Company, which represents a roster of retailers who had signed leases at Xanadu. “Until American Dream becomes a reality,” he said, “it is difficult to get retailers to make hard commitments.”

    The Jets and Giants, which both use MetLife Stadium, filed a lawsuit last month seeking to block construction of the project, saying it threatens to “clog the complex’s already congested transportation networks” on game days, when 80,000 fans converge on the stadium.

    The State Transportation Department approved the project, however, and Triple Five moved on Tuesday to dismiss the suit.

    The deal with DreamWorks provides the project with some Hollywood cachet and underscores Triple Five’s emphasis on entertainment.

    Entertainment conglomerates like DreamWorks say they view theme parks as a way to expand revenues for an industry buffeted by piracy, flagging DVD sales and a drop in network television viewers.

    The theme park industry is slow growing in North America, said John Robinett, senior vice president of economics for the Themed Entertainment Association, although the recent creation of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios in Florida and a $1 billion makeover tied to “Cars” characters at Disney’s California Adventure park in Los Angeles have raised attendance substantially.

    Triple Five is hoping DreamWorks can do the same in the Meadowlands, where it says it hopes to attract 55 million visitors annually. But that may be easier in Minnesota or West Edmonton, Canada, where Triple Five already operates.

    “Not only does northern New Jersey not lack for shopping malls; there are a lot of destination attractions,” said David L. Malmouth, a developer in San Diego and a former Disney executive. “Manhattan is a pretty compelling theme park in its own right.”
    Gene Ching
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  4. #19
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    I love this thread

    It's a great barometer of China's growth and I can never predict where it will go.

    Chinese Girls Line Up For The Miniskirt Discount At A Theme Park
    ChinaHush | Jul. 24, 2012, 10:06 AM | 1,743 | 4

    The promotion launched by a park in Guilin triggered lots of controversy. A theme park in Guilin launched the campaign, “Happy Summer Loves Mini-Skirts”, stipulating that from July to August, females who are over 18 years old, with skirts shorter than 38cm, could enjoy half price admission, which is 55 RMB. And on July 21st and 22nd, qualified females could enjoy 10RMB ticket before 12pm.

    But some netizens expressed their objection, deeming it a vulgar publicity stunt without any meaning, and an unhealthy low-class event.

    Guilin Merryland said that we had this promotion for five years since 2007, and due to positive feedback, it had been kept. And the park did not agree with netizens on that it was a vulgar act.

    Despite its continuous controversy, this campaign reached its peak on July 21st and July 22nd when qualified visitors could enjoy 10 RMB tickets. The amount of total visitors increased instead of declining. Statistics showed that around 12,000 visitors entered the park on July 21st.

    In order to participate in this campaign, many female visitors who wore pants changed into a mini-skirt before they bought tickets, and changed back after they went inside. Mrs. Su, a visitor, said it was a bit troublesome, but both the length of skirt and the ticket price were acceptable and such a good deal.

    July and August are the peak season for this theme park, and the “mini-skirt festival” not only greatly increased the amount of visitors, but also brought new business opportunities for some merchants. The booth, under the tree which was only 20meters away from the ticket office, offered mini-skirts in various colors and attracted many females. According to the cart owner, their target consumers were visitors from other cities, who did not know this mini-skirt promotion and hence were not prepared for it. The mini-skirts were well received by these visitors because the total price of the skirt (30-40 RMB) and ticket (10 RMB) was still slightly lower than a half price ticket. They sold near 200 skirts in a single morning.





    Gene Ching
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  5. #20
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    More Angry Birds

    Angry Birds: Rovio's theme park plans to land in China
    By Xu Ming (Global Times)
    11:12, August 21, 2012

    The first Angry Birds theme park in Finland. (Photo:Global Times/ Courtesy of Lappset Group )

    "Life is like Angry Birds. When you fail, there will always be laughter from several pigs," a popular Sina Weibo post states. Widely recirculated, this saying is inspired from Angry Birds, a game where players catapult birds from slingshots to smash pigs.

    The game, based on the story of birds taking revenge against pigs for stealing their eggs, was developed by Rovio Entertainment in 2009, gaining international acclaim.

    Domestically, the number of downloads for the game has exceeded 140 million, making China the second largest market for the Finish company.

    Rovio opened its first overseas office in Shanghai this June, aiming to develop the Chinese market. It also plans to open hundreds of retail stores across China, as reported.

    Now, it is considering opening theme parks in China, to gain a slice of the Chinese tourism market. But this is a decision that requires careful execution, much like the Angry Birds game itself.

    From virtual to reality

    Rovio's co-founder reportedly visited Hainan Province earlier this month to research and find a "nest" to build the theme park, reported Hainan Daily. In June, Peter Vesterbacka, the co-founder of the Angry Birds game, announced in Shanghai that the first Angry Birds theme park will be built in Haining, Zhejiang Province.

    Rovio has similar plans in Shanghai, Dalian, Chongqing and other cities.

    Paul Chen, Rovio's China general manager, told the Global Times that Rovio is talking to interested parties and local governments in China.

    "We plan to build many Angry Birds activity parks in China though we do not have a fixed schedule or number yet," Chen said. "We want to bring the Angry Birds experience to fans all over China and all over the world."

    With the popularity of Angry Birds, Rovio has expanded its business beyond games to toys, films, books, clothing and theme parks. It built its first Angry Birds theme park in Tampere, Finland last April.

    Tero Ylinenp??, executive vice president of Lappset Group, an official licensing partner of Rovio in designing and supplying Angry Birds parks worldwide, told the Global Times that the success of the first Angry Birds park exceeded their expectations.

    Sundown Adventureland in the UK will open its Angry Birds Park on August 29, the first Angry Birds Activity Park in the UK. In addition, an indoor park will be constructed in Vuokatti, Finland, opening before the end of the year.

    "It's natural that Angry Birds wants to tap into China's theme parks," said Xie Yifeng, an expert in tourism and real estate. "The market is huge, and local governments are supportive."

    Disney derivative?

    Vesterbacka once said that Rovio aims to become a leading entertainment brand in China, like Disney. Both Disney and Rovio use games to build popularity and develop derivative products to make a profit. They both understand how valuable the Chinese market is.

    After opening a theme park in Hong Kong in 2005, Disney is planning on opening its second theme park in China in Shanghai around 2015.

    But if Angry Birds moves fast, it might be the first exported theme park in the Chinese mainland.

    Vesterbacka revealed in February that a theme park focusing on games would be built in Shanghai by the end of the year.

    "Visitors will not play passively in the park… People will move as if in a game. It is different from Disney."

    Vesterbacka's philosophy is to tailor parks to the neighborhood, in manner of a school, grocery store or library.

    "Angry Birds theme parks [encourage] exercise. There will be traditional rides and roller coasters available, but the core idea of an Angry Birds parks is to activate people to move and go through extreme experiences instead of standing in queue," wrote Ylinenp?? in an e-mail.

    Domestic parks

    Rovio pushed forward a special edition of the Angry Birds game before China's Mid-Autumn Day last September, with ancient Chinese buildings in the background.

    In an interview with Xinhua, Vesterbacka said the company hopes to incorporate traditional Chinese fairy tales into future theme parks.

    Chen is confident in the uniqueness of Angry Birds theme parks. "We don't feel that we are competing with local and foreign brands, as our parks will provide a different and unique interactive experience."

    Some experts say Rovio has a long way to go.

    Xie Yifeng said, "Though it [Angry Birds] has certain influence as a brand now, it is not comparable to Disney yet," he said, "It needs more development."

    Many theme parks in China have not done well. The first theme park emerged in 1989 when Splendid China was opened in Shenzhen.

    There are reportedly an estimated 2,500 theme parks across the country, but only a tenth make a profit.

    Bao Jigang, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University, said that most parks in China have similar themes and expensive tickets.

    There are at least 500 parks with the Journey to the West theme and dozens of folk culture villages across the country.

    "Angry Birds has its own brand and is developing its chain products," Xie Yifeng told the Global Times.

    Ylinenp?? is optimistic. "China is an engine in the world's economy. The same is happening ... with theme parks."

    Xie recommends Rovio and its partners conduct thorough research about the theme park market in China.

    "Design and function should integrate the special features of China," he said. Xie said local governments should do research before embarking on foreign projects.

    "Local governments are eager to drive the economy and scramble for theme park projects while China is a market not to be neglected."
    At least 500 parks with the Journey to the West theme?
    Gene Ching
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  6. #21
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    Like I said - I can never predict where it will go.

    But for some nagging reason, I feel I should have predicted this one.

    China Pushes Tibet Tourism in Theme Park Project

    Pilgrims and tourists visit Potala Palace in Lhasa in Tibet Autonomous Region, July 5, 2006. Potala Palace, the Dalai Lama's traditional home, is more than 1,300 years old.
    Aida Akl
    August 29, 2012

    Just outside Tibet’s capital, Lhasa, the Chinese government is building a $4.7 billion theme park that critics describe as a fairy tale universe that trivializes Tibetan culture and glosses over the nation’s troubles.

    The construction gets into high gear as Tibetans continue to demonstrate and set themselves on fire to protests Chinese policies in the nation Beijing invaded 63 years ago. The 50th such self-immolation took place this week.

    The Chinese Embassy in Washington refuses to comment on the theme park project, or the self-immolations. But Beijing’s official news agency, Xinhua, quoted the deputy mayor of Lhasa, Ma Xingming, as saying the project “is designed to improve Tibet’s tourism credentials and be a landmark of the cultural industry.”

    Xinhua said the park, scheduled for completion in three to five years, will be centered on the theme of a Chinese princess who marries a Tibetan king. It said the park will include displays of Tibetan handicrafts, medicine and folklore.


    Map of Tibetan Self-Immolations, Updated August 27, 2012

    ​​​Tenzin Dorjee, Executive Director of Students for a Free Tibet in New York, is not impressed, noting that the project comes as Tibetan activists continue to protest Chinese dominance of their homeland.

    “They are spending these billions of dollars in building a theme park in Tibet at a time when Tibetans are setting themselves on fire for freedom,” Tenzin said. “And this is China’s way of not addressing the problem, not addressing any grievances.”

    Tenzin also accused Beijing of trying to distort Tibetan history by highlighting its own version of the nation’s past.

    Stephanie Brigden, director of the London-based Free Tibet campaign, is another critic of the Chinese project.

    “When you look at the proposed scale of the theme park, it’s vast and it’s … a strategy of ‘Disneyfication’ of Tibet,” Brigden said. “It’s not one of sharing and celebrating Tibetan culture.”


    In this photo taken October 1, 2011, Chinese paramilitary police march during a flag raising ceremony near Potala Palace in Lhasa in northwestern China's Tibet province.

    ​​She said the park’s theme, intended to showcase harmony between China and Tibet, is insulting when so many Tibetans “have felt that their only recourse is to set themselves on fire, underlying that it’s far from a harmonious situation.”

    But at least one Chinese commentator said it is about time for Tibet and its culture to catch up with the times.

    “Over the past decades, breaking economic isolation and stagnancy has served as a basic prerequisite for cultural growth,” said Chen Chenchen, opinion editor of China’s Global Times newspaper, a part of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily group. “It’s increasingly impossible that a bulwark can be erected to ‘protect’ the Tibetan culture from external impact.”

    "Younger generations of Tibetans are already making changes in their traditions,” Chenchen said, adding that ordinary Tibetans do not want to live in a backwater museum to be exhibited to foreign visitors...”

    Brigden said Beijing apparently believes the theme park project will create enough jobs that it “will reduce Tibetan demands for freedom.” But she said previous Chinese projects “have not brought any economic benefit to ordinary Tibetans, whether that be in terms of employment opportunities or … money filtering down to ordinary people.”

    Tom Grunfeld, professor of Central and East Asian Studies at the State University of New York, acknowledged that the project probably would create jobs for Tibetans, but that it was still self-serving.

    “Most of the Tibetan economy is funded by the … central government of China,” he said, “So anything that can boost the economy is going to help the central government.”

    The goal, Grunfeld added, is to boost tourism - the largest part of Tibet’s economy.


    A Tibetan Buddhist monk stands between tourists and a giant thangka, a religious silk embroidery or painting unique to Tibet, during the Shoton Festival at Drepung Monastery on the outskirts of Lhasa, Tibet Autonomous Region, August 29, 2011.

    ​​Chinese figures put the number of tourists visiting Tibet in 2011 at 8.5 million, and estimate that the first six months of this year brought in revenues of $381 million. And the Tibetan administration hopes to raise that figure to 15 million visitors annually by 2015, according to Xinhua.

    But Grunfeld warned that a massive influx of tourists to a city like Lhasa is a double-edged sword that could produce ethnic hostility as well as make money.

    “You’re flooding your 500,000 to 600,000 population – half that population is not permanent; half that population is probably Han [Chinese] who leave for several months a year during the coldest months when there’s no tourism,” he said. “So you’re flooding this with six to eight million people. It’s a tremendous strain on this city."

    “And, it increases ethnic tension. The ethnic tension in a city like Lhasa is enormous,” he concluded, adding that so far Tibetans are afraid to speak out against the theme park project for fear of reprisal.

    “They don’t feel secure enough to really speak their minds because of the polarization,” Grunfeld said, “so the chance of real Tibetan input into this theme park is zero.”

    Exiles, like Tenzin in New York, do feel free to speak out. He is calling for worldwide campaign to block the project.

    “This is going to destroy our history,” he said, “and this will not benefit the Tibetan people in the long-run.”
    Gene Ching
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  7. #22
    Wow, Chinese Theme park is a great idea! I'm not a Chinese but I know that Chinese culture is very abundant in nature. I believe that putting up a theme park is a great way to attract tourists who love to explore new adventures, like me.

  8. #23
    Oh wow. The one in Lhasa is freekin shameful.

    I just watched a mini doc on Bama, a small village in a souther Chinese valley. They live a long time there. It is believed that the local farming, fresh air, work ethic, clear minds and completely uncontaminated lifestyle is the secret to their longevity.

    So naturally they are building hotels and piping in infrastructure in order to encourage tourists to come learn the secrets of longevity.

    Are people really this stupid or is it a sinister effort all around and the victims just can't stop it or even speak on it because of some fear? They don't come across as very stupid, some appear quite intelligent. So wtf is going on here? Is the youth selling their heritage for profit? What?

  9. #24
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    Butterfly Lovers park goes bust

    The bubble may be beginning to burst.
    Time to rethink tourist city construction craze
    Updated: 2012-09-28 15:05 ( Xinhua)

    BEIJING -- An ambitious plan to build a huge, 2.7 billion yuan ($426 million) theme park based on a legendary love story in a small county in East China's Anhui province has stirred heated debate recently.

    Huaining, a county with a population of 700,000, is home to the tombs of Jiao Zhongqin and Liu Lanzhi, a tragic couple who -- the story goes -- broke up under pressure from their parents but reunited after committing suicide together.

    Many people are wondering if the massive investment program based on a celebrated 1,000-year-old poem can really attract the tourist numbers the government expects and create enough economic returns.

    The park has also reminded many of a failed Chinese tourist town in Henan province's Runan county, branded the hometown of the "butterfly lovers," China's answer to Romeo and Juliet.

    The town is desolate today as its supposed fame has failed to bring in tourists and investment. Eager to dig up cultural gold, the project has instead ground to an embarrassing standstill.

    Many Chinese cities are nevertheless following suit, in the hope that past glories can bring prosperity in the present. Yet it is time to put a brake on this city construction extravaganza.

    These projects were mostly carried out without consulting the public, an oversight which risks harming the interests of the masses and brewing mistrust between citizens and local governments.

    The culture industry promises to drive domestic consumption, but spending billions to throw up a new "ancient" town on the basis of a fairytale or an ancient poem is a sheer abuse of public money.

    The funding of the projects relies heavily on banks and real estate developers, which has caused great concern for their viability.

    The local businessman investor behind Runan county's "butterfly lovers" project withdrew due to cash flow problems in his company, leaving unfinished roads and withered trees on the vast patch of land leased from villagers.

    Yet an equally important force at play in Runan's cautionary tale is that potential punters may simply be unwilling to pay for a trip on a bumpy country road to see nothing but two tombs.

    The construction craze may also pose a great financial risk to the government. As some projects struggle to woo private investors, many governments pin their hopes on the banks.

    The reality is that it's very hard to recoup the investment solely through tourism in the way the government has anticipated.

    The huge debts will be passed on to the next government and the public will suffer in the end.

    And in many cases, the projects will lead to the relocation of thousands of local residents.

    Experiences in some Chinese cities have shown that brand-new ancient towns have not necessarily brought more tourists, as they failed to replicate the essence of the former civilization. Besides, many genuine heritage sites were already destroyed years ago in the construction spree that came with China's modernization rush.

    For the government, the desire to dismantle a city and reshape it is very intriguing as investment in construction drives up GDP growth. But for the sake of the people, local governments should cool down the investment craze.
    Gene Ching
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  10. #25
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    I love it when OT becomes T

    See our related thread: Stephan Chow's Chinese Odyssey

    Theme park pact for Chow, ChinaVision
    By Patrick Frater
    Mon, 15 October 2012, 09:30 AM (HKT)

    ChinaVision Media Group Ltd 文化中國傳播集團, the Hong Kong-listed Chinese film group, is to move into the movie-related theme park business.

    The company has struck a deal with Hong Kong comedian and director Stephen CHOW 周星馳 to establish a joint venture company, Film Art Centre, that will create tourist attractions based on the movie properties they jointly develop.

    Film Art Centre, which will operate from an as yet undecided location in mainland China, will be 75% owned by ChinaVision.

    Its first themed area will be based on Journey to the West 除魔傳奇, the big budget fantasy that is now in post-production. Journey is a joint effort involving Chow's Bingo Group Holdings Ltd 比高集團有限公司, Edko Films Ltd 安樂影片有限公司, Village Roadshow Entertainment Group Asia and ChinaVision.

    As previously reported, Chinavision has "an option to invest in the production of 5 motion pictures in which [Chow] would play a significant role as filmmaker, producer, director, script writer, protagonist or other leading role within seven years from the date of the agreement."

    Film related theme parks have been mooted at several locations in China by multiple developers. Construction began last year on the Disneyland park near Shanghai before the central government appeared to ban development of further attractions in in an attempt to dampen speculative building projects. Shanghai Oriental DreamWorks Film & Television Technology 上海合資組建東方夢工廠公司 recently unveiled plans for a theme park near Shanghai, while Huayi Brothers Media Corporation 華誼兄弟傳媒股份有限公司 has announced plans for a park at Suzhou.

    Three years ago Chinese cultural industries conglomerate Zhonghong Group and the US's Thinkwell company announced plans for a $1.5 billion theme park franchise at Huairou, near Beijing, that would be based on Journey to the West's central character, Monkey King. In 2009 the Shanghai municipal government announced plans for a theme park franchise based on Journey to the West which it would then roll out to other cities around China.
    Gene Ching
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  11. #26
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    I figure Monkey King theme parks are about right, since they are popular with the kids, and with the 20-30s crowd who can recite key passages about love from the Chinese Odyssey movies. 爱你一万年...etc

    Surprised there isn't a 喜羊羊 Xi yangyang theme park. There are Xi Yangyang logoed roast meat restaurants, wool clothing stores and noodle houses in China.

  12. #27
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    There are a few JttW theme parks already

    I couldn't find an official site, but here's a website with a lot of photos from the one in Guangzhou.
    The Journey to the West attraction in Guangzhou
    Gene Ching
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  13. #28
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    Eighth Route Army Culture Park

    You must follow the link below for an extensive photo gallery. I only cut&pasted a few.

    Japan Invades China! ... Year-Round, at This Theme Park in Shanxi
    By Brian Fung
    Oct 29 2012, 1:20 PM ET 9

    It's not unlike Six Flags, only with guns (and real flags).

    What would you get if you were able to mix Red Dawn with both a Civil War battle reenactment and Disneyland, and then translated the whole thing into Chinese? At the Eighth Route Army Culture Park in Shanxi province, named after the Communist military unit that fought behind Japanese lines in the 1940s, visitors can dress up as either Chinese or Japanese troops and pretend to blast away at each other with toy guns.

    Complete with staffers who play out scenes of Japanese oppression for the patriotic benefit of Chinese onlookers, the theme park is also equipped with a shooting-gallery attraction that takes would-be soldiers through a model village populated with fake targets, as well as trenches where tourists do battle in live-action role-playing games. The park cost the local government about $80 million to put together. At a time when anti-Japanese sentiment is running high in China over the two countries' island dispute in the East China Sea, the theme park seems to have hit on a timely business opportunity.


    Pictures of Japanese military soldiers are displayed as targets. (Jason Lee/Reuters)


    An actor dressed as a Japanese military officer pretends to kill a man dressed as a plainclothes Eighth Route Army soldier. (Jason Lee/Reuters)


    Actors dressed in Japanese gear pretend to shoot a man during a live-action performance. (Jason Lee/Reuters)


    A woman dressed in Japanese gear pretends to fire her toy gun at Chinese soldiers. (Jason Lee/Reuters)
    Gene Ching
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  14. #29
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    Mo Yan Culture and Experience Zone

    China transforms Nobel Prize winner's hometown into a theme park
    The area will be known as the Mo Yan Culture and Experience Zone, but author Mo Yan remains ambivalent about the new attraction.
    By Husna Haq / October 25, 2012

    Chinese writer Mo Yan recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature.


    Step aside ****ens World, Popeye Village Fun Park, and Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

    If you’re looking for literary fun of the contrived, manufactured, theme park variety, there’s a new game in town.

    Following the Nobel Prize win of its native son, Mo Yan, China is planning to transform the Nobel winner’s hometown, the sleepy, rural village of Ping’an (population: 800), into a $110-million Mo Yan Culture and Experience Zone.

    The national, and perhaps international, attraction will center on Mo Yan’s childhood home, a modest mud structure with newspaper-covered walls.

    Also in the works is a Red Sorghum Culture and Experience Zone and a Red Sorghum Film and Television Exhibition Area based on the author’s 1987 work, “Red Sorghum.” By government mandate, that attraction would have real peasants cultivating 1,600 acres of real sorghum. (Never mind that the undesirable, unprofitable crop hasn’t been cultivated in decades.)

    As we reported after his Nobel win, Mo Yan is known for his depiction of rural Chinese life, particularly its women, which populate many of his novels, short stories, and essays. His novel “Red Sorghum,” about the life of a young woman working in a distillery, was made into a film directed by Zhang Yimou which became one of the most internationally acclaimed Chinese films.

    Chinese authorities, it seems, have appropriated Mo Yan’s house, literary success, and indeed, Mo Yan himself, for the theme park project.

    “Your son is no longer your son, and the house is no longer your house,” Fan Hui, a local official told Mo Yan’s 90-year old father, according to the Beijing News, explaining that he was now China’s son. “It does not really matter if you agree or not.”

    Even a few weeks ago, no one could have imagined this poor, rural outpost would become a dazzling $110 million national attraction.

    “Until last week, the county of Gaomi in the eastern province of Shandong was a poor farming community,” writes the Vancouver Sun. “”It was here that Mo ate tree bark and searched for wild vegetables to survive a tough childhood.”

    Oddly enough, these days visitors are digging up his family’s cultivated vegetables as a souvenir.

    “One visitor dug up a radish [from Mo’s vegetable patch],” reported the Beijing News. “He slipped it into his coat and showed it to villagers afterward, saying: ‘Mo’s radish! Mo’s radish!’”

    “A visiting mother picked some yams and told her daughter: ‘I’ll boil them, so you can eat them and win the Nobel Prize, too!’”

    If visitors’ zest for Mo’s family garden patch is any indication, the Mo Yan Culture and Experience Zone will be a hit.

    As for Mo and his family’s thoughts on the attraction, they appear ambivalent.

    Asked by China Central Television whether he was happy about the plans, Mo responded, “I do not know.”

    His brother Guan was less generous. “He [Mo Yan] will oppose any renovations even though he has won the award,” he said. “It is too public, people should be low key.” (Incidentally, Mo Yan is a pen name meaning “don’t speak.”)

    Not, of course, that their opinion really matters.

    As the Atlantic Wire said, “Sounds like government-mandated fun for the whole family!”

    Husna Haq is a Monitor correspondent.
    Wasn't Red Sorghum all about sorghum liquor? I wonder if they will have a rollercoaster...
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  15. #30
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    More on the Eighth Route Army Culture Park

    I kind of want to go now...
    War zone holidays a booming business
    Updated: 2012-11-20 22:50
    By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

    History's darkest days inspire an unusual theme park in Shanxi.

    War. What is it good for? Well, tourism, according to a county famous for its revolutionary past.

    A theme park based around the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression in North China's Shanxi province has so far proved a big hit with fans of "red" tourism.

    For just 90 yuan ($15), visitors can don the uniform of China's legendary Eighth Route Army for mock battles with Japanese, as well as enjoy a live-action recreation of a famous victory.

    "The counterstrike-style feature is one of the most popular features," said Shi Yongbing, spokesman for the Wuxiang county government, which runs the park.

    Visitors can experience 10 guerrilla methods applied by the Eighth Route Army — the larger of the Communist Party of China's two forces during the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression — in a realistic setting created by professional performers with high-tech sound and lighting effects.

    "Wuxiang is not a traditional tourism county," Shi said. "However, in tourism development we need to fully take advantage of its position as the former headquarters of the Eighth Route Army and tap its potential as a ‘red tourism' site."

    Red tourism, a combination of patriotic education and recreation, has boomed in recent years, thanks largely to government support.

    No holiday for some

    Not everyone is in support of such attractions, though, and some people have accused the park of being offensive to other nations, particularly Japan.

    In the guerrilla experience, for example, visitors use fake weapons to shoot pictures of Japanese soldiers, which critics say is distasteful.

    "Now the war is over, I don't see why former enemies should bear grudges or harbor bitter resentment against each other," said student Wang Yueyue at Peking University. "Why dig up the past if you can move on?"

    Shi disagreed with the criticism, and said: "The theme park is meant to re-create history so the present generation doesn't forget. There is no political factor.

    "Everything we re-create happened, we're not making anything up," he added.

    However, Zhang Hui, a professor of tourism at Beijing Jiaotong University, said he feels that attractions catering to the 'red' market sometimes tend to veer toward the vulgar.

    "For historic monuments and sites, tourism development should be solemn and serious, it should not try to please the public with claptrap," he said. "It's not respectful for history nor for the soldiers."

    The fact an increasing number of Chinese tourists are visiting former revolutionary bases and landmarks is a good thing, he said, explaining that they are of great educational significance and greatly promote socioeconomic development in areas that are typically rural and poorer than other parts of the country.

    However, Zhang said too much "amusement" may diminish the significance in the eyes of the next generation.

    "It's necessary that historic sites respect the history that occurred on the land before and pass it on in a solemn way," he added.

    Benefits to locals

    Wuxiang received more than 2.1 million visitors between January to October, a year-on-year increase of 44 percent, generating an income of more than 1.6 billion yuan, according to government records.

    "The theme park has created more than 300 employment opportunities in 10 months, and some 200 households have turned their homes into rural guesthouses, providing food and accommodation," Shi said. "It has also created jobs for residents in nine nearby villages."

    He said Taihang Mountain, a musical extravaganza that re-creates a historic air strike by the Japanese army and includes some folk performers, has provided extra income for about 600 farmers.

    Ren Chengtang, who lives nearby, said he had earned 40,000 yuan by playing a shepherd and providing his own sheep for the show over the summer. The show is closed in winter and will re-open in the spring.

    "Each actor is paid 30 yuan per performance, along with a 5 yuan transport allowance," Shi said. "A subsidy of 90 yuan also goes to the owner of the 40 sheep that appear in the show."

    The county has just started to promote red tourism, which is still in a period of development, he said. However, there are plans to build a cultural industry and promote the culture and history of the Eighth Route Army.

    "Although the province has always relied heavily on coal, it's tapping into other potential areas to develop its economy and will look for multiple sources of revenue in the future," Shi added.

    Sun Ruisheng in Taiyuan contributed to this story.
    Gene Ching
    Publisher www.KungFuMagazine.com
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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