China’s Wanda pumps in US$15 billion to ‘take down’ Disney

Wanda Mall in Nanchang, Jiangxi. Pic: humphery/Shutterstock

CHINESE commercial property conglomerate Wanda is stepping up efforts to surpass Walt Disney Co. to become the largest tourism company in the world by 2020.

Bloomberg reported that Wanda signed an agreement with the local government to pump in US$15 billion in a Wanda City project in Changsa, with the remainder of the investment used to build 15 Wanda Plaza malls in cities such as Yueyang and Changde, as recorded in a statement posted on the Wanda website.

Amid competition from overseas investors such as Disney, Chairman Wang Jianlin – China’s second richest man – is aiming to build on strength in numbers.

In August, Wanda signed a deal with local government officials to build a US$9.5 billion tourism and culture center complete with a sports park, theme park and hotels.

Jianlin said that the company plans to attract more than 20 million visitors a year to the new park, create 20,000 jobs, and generate significant tax revenue for the government.

SEE ALSO: China’s second richest man plans to build US$9.5 billion tourist park topple Disney

In an interview on a Chinese talk show, Jianlin showed off his Beijing headquarters, and shared a vision of him destroying his biggest rival, Disney, by outbuilding them. He added that he wanted to make Shanghai Disneyland completely “unprofitable in the coming two decades”.

Meanwhile, Shanghai Disneyland, which opened its doors in mid-June, was reported to have fallen short of early visitor numbers.

The park has averaged about 20,000 visitors a day, making up an estimate of about 7.3 million a year. Overall, the figure is less than half the 15 million Nomura and other experts had projected.

According to the Themed Entertainment Association, it would also leave Shanghai struggling behind similar Disney parks in California and Tokyo, which drew in 18.3 million and 16.6 million visitors respectively last year.

SEE ALSO: Shanghai Disneyland visitor numbers fall short of expectations