Disney has threatened to sue China’s richest man after crudely dressed Disney characters were spotted at his rival amusement park that claims to support local culture.
Wang Jianlin, founder of the Dalian Wanda Group, recently criticized Shanghai Disneyland for its purported lack of innovation and detraction from Chinese culture. During the opening of his new amusement park, Wanda City, in the southern city of Nanchang, Wang said:
“Disney didn’t believe that China has Wanda. They shouldn’t have entered China. We have a [saying]: one tiger is no match for a pack of wolves. Shanghai has one Disney while Wanda, across the nation, will open 15 to 20.”
However, Disney learned that during the opening of Wanda City, identifiable Disney characters including Snow White, Captain America and a stormtrooper were frolicking among visitors. Disney threatened to take legal action and released the following statement to Bloomberg:
“We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement. Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more.”
Stuffed animals resembling “Pokemon” and “Kung Fu Panda” characters were also reportedly on sale at the park.
Wang defended his theme park and informed Bloomberg that Wanda City, the first of his 15 parks expected to be built over next five years, was not responsible for the shabby Disney characters. The characters were reportedly seen outside of the ticketed area of the theme park. Wang said:
“The non-Wanda characters were operated by individual stores within Wanda Mall. They do not represent Wanda.”
According to Wang, pressure from his own chain of amusement parks will destroy Disney China by making it unprofitable over the next two decades. The company’s goal is to bring in $15.5 billion in revenue from the 200 million tourist visits to a number of its parks by the year 2020.
Wanda City welcomed visitors to its opening last weekend. According to Wanda Group, the park, which covers two square kilometers, includes a theme park, movie park, aquarium, hotels and retail stores.
Wanda City reportedly cost $3.2 billion to construct while Shanghai Disneyland cost an estimated $5.5 billion. Around 300 million Chinese live within a three-hour drive of Shanghai Disneyland, which opens June 16. It is expected to bring in 10 million annual visitors.
Tickets for Wanda City cost 198 yuan ($30) on most days and 248 yuan ($37) on weekends and holidays. On the other hand, Shanghai Disneyland tickets are priced at 370 yuan ($56) on regular days and 499 yuan ($75) on peak days.