Not unlike Captain Hook’s reaction to Peter Pan, Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin has declared war on The Walt Disney Co. over its forthcoming Shanghai resort.
Wang’s Dalian Wanda Group is planning to open its own theme park in a direct challenge to the soon-to-open Shanghai Disneyland amusement park
“Disney really shouldn’t have entered the mainland,” Wang said on China Central Television Sunday when he unveiled ambitions to surpass Disney as the world’s largest tourism enterprise by 2020. “We will make Disney’s China venture unprofitable in the next 10 to 20 years.”
Disney’s Shanghai office on Tuesday told the Financial Times that Wang’s comments “were not worthy of a response.”
Wanda City plans to invest between 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) and 30 billion yuan ($4.6 billion) in each of the “two or three” leisure resorts it expects to open outside of China by the end of this year.
Wanda City also said it wants to open a site near London, but gave no timeline. Wanda is already partnering with France’s Immochan to develop a 3 billion euro leisure project on the outskirts of Paris.
With a growing number of middle-class consumers, new high-speed rail lines, and a planned increase in national holidays, China’s domestic tourism industry is poised to explode. In addition, government support is expected to help expand the sector into a pillar of its new service-oriented economy, said the Financial Times. And Wanda plans to fight Disney to become the dominant player.
Wanda will open its first Wanda City, at a cost of 21 billion yuan, in the southeastern city of Nanchang on Saturday. Three weeks later, Disney is slated to open its Shanghai resort, its first in mainland China, at a cost of $5.5 billion. Wang criticized Shanghai Disneyland for the cost, saying it would result in higher ticket prices.
Wang, who is China’s richest man with a fortune estimated at $28.7 billion, was elevated to 18th place on Forbes’s global billionaires list in March.