Dalian Wanda Group, the Chinese entertainment giant owned by the country’s richest man, opened the first phase of a sprawling 34 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) tourism park in the eastern city of Hefei on Saturday.
Wanda is building similar projects around the country, betting that China’s rising incomes will drive more domestic tourism. In an interview with Reuters last month, chairman Wang Jianlin said that Wanda would look to build at least 20 such complexes in China.
The 160 hectare (1.6 square km) first phase of Hefei Wanda City includes a theme park, hotels and a shopping mall. The second phase will be an “indoor recreation project,” according to a statement from the company. Wanda intends to extend the park into a third phase, which is still in the planning stages, it said.
Wang has been open about his rivalry with Walt Disney Co, which opened a $5.5 billion resort in Shanghai in June. “At Wanda, I always say we want to ensure Disney is not profitable for 10-20 years in this business segment in China,” he told state-run China Central Television (CCTV) in a May interview.