China’s richest man who plans to overtake the amusement park market in the country is locking horns with Disney.
Wang Jianlin, 61, is China’s richest man with a net worth of $34 billion founded in real estate. Jianlin, the founder of Dalian Wanda Group, criticized Disney’s $5.5 billion investment in Shanghai’s new Disneyland park opening in mid-June.
During an interview with CCTV, Wang said:
“The frenzy of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the era of blindly following them have passed. [They are] entirely cloning previous IP, cloning previous products, with no more innovation.”
The Chinese real estate developer has plans for his own chain of theme parks targeting China’s growing middle class. According to Fortune, Wang said confidently that competition from his amusement parks would make Disney China unprofitable for the next decade or two.
He also criticized the Shanghai Disneyland theme park for glorifying American culture. Wanda’s first theme park, Wanda City, opened in the southern city of Nanchang mid-May. During the opening of Wanda City, Wang said:
“Chinese culture led the world for 2,000 years, but since the last 300 years, because of our lagging development and the invasion of foreign cultures, we have more or less lacked confidence in our own culture. We want to be a model for Chinese private enterprise, and we want to establish a global brand for Chinese firms.”
The Dalian Wanda Group has a stronghold in China’s real estate development. By 2014, Wanda had constructed 99 plazas with luxury apartment complexes, cinemas, restaurants and shopping. According to Wanda Group, their overall revenue increased 19% in 2015 to $45 billion.
More recently, the company has attempted to breakthrough the entertainment and tourism industry. Earlier this year, the group purchased American movie production company Legendary Entertainment for $3.5 billion. In 2012, the company bought the AMC movie theater chain.
Now Wang and the company are looking to grow their wealth to $15.5 billion from potentially 15 to 20 amusement parks in China. Their goal by the end of 2020 is to attract 200 million tourist visits. Wang delivered a warning to Disney during his CCTV interview. He 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.
“Moreover there’s another issue. The most important problem, and that is their high cost to open the park. With the scale similar to our Nanchang park, their Shanghai park costs $5.5 billion. I have no way to even comprehend this. We internally analyzed why they spend so much money on it and we can’t explain it in a sentence or two.”