By now you’ve most likely heard the quote from the owner of Wanda Movie Park back when Shanghai Disneyland first opened. “They shouldn’t have entered China,” said Wang Jianlin, China’s biggest movie and theme park mogul. “The frenzy of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the era of blindly following them have passed.”
At the time, those words sounded like Jianlin was ready for battle in an all out war for theme park supremacy. Now we have come to learn that perhaps he was speaking out of fear. After less than two years, Wanda Movie Park is closing for “renovations and refurbishments” that have not been specified as of yet. More importantly, this was not a result of Shanghai Disneyland opening. Rather, this park imploded on itself long before Mickey moved in.
When the theme park opened, the company said it expected 3 million visitors in the first year. But the Chutian Metropolis Daily, a local newspaper, quoted a former Wanda employee as saying it was only attracting about 200 people per day. Now let’s say that employee didn’t know what they were talking about and assume that attendance was 1,000 per day. That’s still 365,000 per year and around 12% of their expectations… and that’s being generous.
You’ll notice that Wanda Movie Park is completely indoors and looks more like a mall than a theme park. Considering weather conditions, that actually makes a lot of sense. The real issue here is that the Wanda company doesn’t own the rights to any major movie franchises and thus made a park on generic premises and hand-crafted stories.
Until you start digging a little. You see, every single attraction at the park is a knock off of another attraction you’ll find in the United States. Let’s take a stroll, shall we?
We start with Ultimate Energy. A “5D” experience where mechanical robots from the future are coming to take over the planet.
Yes friends, the robot apocalypse is upon us. They have created an army to destroy mankind as we know it.
While I am sure this is complete coincidence, Ultimate Energy takes place in a 500-seat auditorium with a total of three curved screens for a 180-degree movie experience.
Again, total luck. It turns out that our hero is a cyborg robot sent from the future to help mankind from the evil robots.
You may not believe this, but Ultimate Energy features a mix of live performers as well as a 3D movie with in-theater effects.
Including a motorcycle that appears on stage.
The finale of the show ends with the a giant explosion on screen and the audience being covered in a giant cloud of smoke.
Next, let us check out the Power of Nature!
The experience went through a queue of the EWA, or Extreme Weather Association.
The EWA has built a vehicle capable of handling… ya know… extreme weather. And it’s a convertible. Seriously.
Rather than hear me talk about it, why not check out the video below for a description of the ride?
Next up, we head over to Streets of Fury, an interactive dark ride similar to Toy Story Mania in the Disney Parks.
This attraction is a street car racing film in 4D that takes place in a 400-seat theater.
Next up, Journey to the West! This is an interactive dark ride which uses the same ride system as Toy Story Midway Mania at the Disney Parks.
Wanda Movie Park describes Journey to the West as “a thrilling adventure that will take you to the farthest reaches of the galaxy in an effort to protect the future of your own planet!”
Checkout a preview of the attraction in the clip below!
Star Journey is a 30-person simulator which is very similar to Star Tours at the Disney Parks.
Finally we have Hubai in the Air, an attraction which takes its inspiration from the Soarin’-style attractions at Disney Parks.
The queue for Hubai in the Air is actually quite impressive.
Check out what the experience was like in the film below!
On the plus side, Wanda Movie Park had what could be considered as all E-ticket attractions. Sure, many of the concepts were based on other attractions and intellectual properties that they didn’t have the rights to.
This may sound odd, but the attractions being based off of Disney and Universal counterparts did very little to impact why the park had to close. Chinese audiences are rarely going to be able to afford to fly out and visit these parks in the United States, much less hear of the attractions they have been inspired from. In reality, the ticket cost of $65-to-$75 per person may have done them in. With only six attractions and next to no lines, you could complete the entire indoor park in under two hours.
While officials at Wanda Movie Park haven’t said what the park will feature when it reopens, my guess is their recent purchase of Legendary Entertainment will play a huge role. Keep in mind, Wanda did not just license the Legendary properties, they flat out bought them. Stay tuned for updates as this will get interesting.
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