The fifth theme park under the banner of Universal Studios was released on 20th September 2021 in Beijing. The Universal Beijing Resort has been dubbed as the largest of its kind in the Chinese capital city. The Universal Beijing Resort finally opened its doors after 7 years of preparatory work and an investment injection of over EUR 6,500 million. The theme park intends to entice a marginal percentage of approximately 20 million tourists who visit the capital city every year.
Before Beijing’s relevance in the international scene after the gala of the 2008 Olympic Games, the Comcast NBC subsidiary had selected the capital of China, Beijing, as the spot to erect its biggest Chinese theme park. However, when China gave the green light in 2014, the project ended up with a construction value of more than double the estimated budget, which was around CNY 20,000 million (EUR 2,600 million).
According to the South China Morning Post newspaper, the final expenditure is estimated to be around CNY 50 billion (EUR 6.5 billion). The Xinhua news agency estimated another CNY 3 billion for the expansion of related municipal plans which included the accomplishment of the construction of numerous highways and a new-fangled metro station.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Universal Beijing Resort is a theme park with the biggest pot of investment in its history. The newspaper also estimated it to be the first to cross over the record expenditure of Disneyland Shanghai, which opened doors in 2016 with an investment value of EUR 4.65 billion. The Universal Beijing Resort is also a complex that has been dedicated to the largest syndicated borrowing of a whopping EUR 3,500 million.
The Universal Beijing Resort
The amusement park complex encompasses 7 theme worlds, two hotels – a resort by the Chinese luxury hotel chain NUO, and the Universal Studios Grand Hotel, and the City Walk boulevard that comprises cinema, restaurants, and shops.
The minimum rates per night are approximately CNY 3,000 and CNY 2,000 (EUR 400 and EUR 260) respectively. The rates of the tickets to the theme park are variable according to the date of bookings and the season. The estimated prices are approximately between CNY 418 and CNY 718 (EUR 55 and EUR 94).
Tom Mehrmann, the President and CEO of the Universal Beijing Resort, stated that the amusement park landscapes are one of the best attractions of the Universal Studios brand. The experiences created in the theme park resonate with the rich heritage and culture of China, Mehrmann said.
The Universal Beijing Resort houses an area that is dedicated to the Kung Fu Panda film (the first of its kind), where one can stroll through a town filled with lanterns. This area reeks of the traditional and romantic idea of old China.
However, the Universal Beijing Resort is not limited to the Chinese DNA. Some of the other dedicated spaces include – the Land of the Minions, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and the Isla Nublar in Jurassic Park. The most adventurous of guests can enjoy the remarkable Decepticoaster – a Bolliger & Mabillard (B&M) steel roller coaster themed to the Transformers films. The enclosure of the Universal Beijing Resort encompasses 37 attractions for all ages and preferences.
Approximately 520,000 invited people have visited the theme park complex 19 days before its official opening. This invitation served as the pre-opening testing of the Universal Beijing Resort. Notwithstanding a daily capacity of 30,000 visitors, the queues in the testing period exceeded the allotted waiting hour. One might question the waiting period once the theme park operates at its full capacity.
One Ms. Yu, who visited the amusement park with her 25-year-old daughter, Ningxuan, stated to the El Pais newspaper, that visitors could make the best use of the official application to visit each attraction in an organized manner. The young woman confessed that she wasn’t aware of any films that inspired the installations. However, Ms. Yu vouched for the plethora of options available in dining and shopping. Visitors left the amusement park with a Harry Potter wand or cape and a Minions popcorn cart.
The pandemic rules prevail in the Universal Beijing Resort
Zhao Yang, 26, explained to the El Pais newspaper, that visitors were supposed to wear face masks at all times owing to the ongoing COVID19 pandemic. Visitors are also made to scan the health code before riding to each facet of the amusement park. Hydro-alcoholic gel dispensers have been installed at strategic points for the visitors to sanitize themselves at all times.
The inauguration of the theme park was originally set for 2020 spring. However, owing to the pandemic, Chinese authorities thought it best to postpone the event. The Beijing Universal was created in collaboration with the e-commerce giant, Alibaba, and its existence is etched as a smart park. The theme park features a modern facial recognition system that has been improvised to allow visitors and workers to access the park. Systems for payments have also been incorporated. These technological additions accustom tourists to avail the theme park’s accessibility in the most hassle-free manner.
Future Plans are budding – Phase 2 and 3 of the Universal Beijing Resort
The second phase of the Universal Beijing Resort is scheduled for 2025. The property will boast a second theme park, five hotels, and a water park, according to Wang Tayi, General Director of the Beijing International Resort conglomerate.
Wang has also confirmed that authorities have a third phase budding in their minds for the future. Post completion of the three phases, the Universal Beijing Resort will boast three theme parks, seven hotels, and two boulevards. Wang proclaimed during the XVI World Leisure Congress held in Beijing, that it would be safe to say that the Beijing Universal will be a top-notch tourist center.
According to the International Association of Amusement and Recreation Parks (IAAPA), China has 156 theme parks functioning and expects another 80 to be inaugurated by 2025. Investments are expected to exceed CNY 300,000 million (EUR 39,400 million).