Ask a Disney Question:Any Plans to Build a Disney Park in Beijing?

This question comes from Chelsea, who asks “Will Disney still want to build a park in Beijing?”

At this point, there aren’t any plans for another Disney park in China, with Disney for the time being focused on the construction of its hard-won park in Shanghai and the struggling Hong Kong Disney park.  That doesn’t mean that Disney doesn’t have any plans somewhere in the distant future, but we can’t find a whisper of good information on a Disney Beijing park anywhere.  Keep in mind that it took two decades of not so-secret negotiations to get the okay to build the park in Shanghai, so even if  Disney is thinking about it, it won’t happen for a very long time.

Building a Disney theme park in any country is complicated, not just logistically but psychologically.  It’s a product, after all, that’s closely associated with the United States and gives at least the appearance of transplanting a foreign culture right into Mainland China.   Add to that dealing with a communist regime, which tends to work slowly, and a country that is, for the most part, still very poor.  Most Mainland Chinese have had only very limited exposure to Disney characters. Further, theme parks are generally regarded as being for children and visiting a Disney park is still out of reach for many Chinese, even with the growing economy.    Finally, and perhaps most important, top political advisers in China are questioning the logic behind building the Shanghai park given the poor numbers that came out recently from the Disneyland Hong Kong park.

But wait!  One thing that might amuse you, is that there already is a “Disney” theme park in Beijing,  the Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park. Built in 1986, it has a castle (shown above) that strongly resembles Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle and a structure that looks a lot like Epcot’s Spaceship Earth. If you visit the park, you’ll notice characters that look a lot like Mickey and Minnie, as well as other trademarked non-Disney characters.  Disney lawyers are apparently in negotiations with the Shijingshan Amusement Park’s lawyers over these issues.   No word yet on the outcome.

And here I worried about buying a possibly bootlegged copy of Beauty and the Beast!

We’ll update if we hear anything else. Thanks for reading the blog and for your question.

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Chip and Co Past Writers and Friends
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