Theme Park, Amusement Park and Attractions Industry News

Two-way traffic

The Australian theme park operator Village Roadshow has announced that it plans to open a marine park in China, meanwhile a Chinese-backed company wants to open a theme park in China!

Scheduled to open by 2015, Hainan R&F Ocean Paradise will be located on Hainan Island in the southern Chinese province of the same name and adopt a similar format to Village Roadshow’s (VR) Sea World park on Australia’s Gold Coast (pictured). A Wet ‘n’ Wild waterpark will also be developed on the same site as a result of a RMB 3.5 billion (US$560m/€430m) deal with Guangzhou R&F Properties.

Village Roadshow has been appointed lead consultant on the project, offering design, development and construction expertise, as well as operating the two parks for up to 20 years. It will not, however, have any ownership interests.

“Our key involvement in every aspect of this project represents significant reward and recognition our Village Roadshow Theme Parks branding and capabilities,” states VR chairman Robert Kirby. “We look forward to working closely with R&F, one of China’s leading property developers, to deliver a world-class destination theme park.”

Located south of Guangdong and to the east of Taiwan, Hainan is China’s smallest province, but the country’s largest special economic zone. After a less than salubrious past, it is now enjoying new found status as a holiday island. Just the time, then, for new tourism development such as Ocean Paradise.

The new park is one of seven national ocean parks approved across the country. At the opposite end of the Guangdong province, facing Macau, the Chimelong Group is preparing later this year to open Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, while in the neighbouring province of Fujian construction work is about to start on Xiamen Ocean World.

Meanwhile a new Chinese-backed enterprise, Australian Chinese Theme Park Pty Ltd (ACTP), has received local approval to develop a theme park in New South Wales, Australia. ACTP will purchase 15 hectares (37 acres) of land in Wyong Shire for AUS$10 million (US$560m/€430m). The first stage of construction is expected to begin in 2015, with completion due by 2020. Reports suggest the park will be based on Chinese life and culture, including a replica of the gates of Beijing’s Forbidden City and with special areas set aside for weddings and events.

Previous attempts at recreating the county’s landmarks on foreign shores, such as at Splendid China in Orlando, Florida, have failed to have any long term viability. It remains to be seen if tourists in Australia – which is of course much closer to the ‘real’ China – will be sufficiently curious for such an attraction for it to become a success.

*According to local press reports, plans exist for a park in England called Visions of China. Rotherham Council has apparently approved the sale of a former coal mine near Rother Country Park in South Yorkshire to China Visions Ltd and MCD Developments. The two firms want to spend £118 million ($190m/€144m) creating replicas of oriental lakes, gardens and temples, together with a theatre, hotel, spa and other facilities, and believe they can attract 1.5 million visitors a year.

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