China's rapid recovery from the COVID-19 epidemic and the country's ongoing consumption upgrade have boosted the confidence of international theme park operators, judging by the steady progress of their projects in the country, industry experts said.
Legoland Shanghai Resort, located in the southwestern outskirt of Shanghai, will start construction later this year before opening its doors to visitors in early 2024, the company said after clearing a crucial antimonopoly review.
The joint venture of the Legoland Shanghai resort project cleared the anti-monopoly review of the State Administration for Market Regulation before the Spring Festival holiday, 45 days ahead of the original plan. The joint venture's initial registration capital and foreign investment were both paid on the first workday of the Year of the Ox.
On Nov 6, Jinshan Urban Investment Co Ltd signed an agreement with UK's Merlin Entertainment Group, Danish toy production company Lego Group and China's leading entertainment group CMC Inc to set up a joint venture that will be responsible for the Legoland Shanghai resort's investment and construction.
The Shanghai resort will be one of the world's largest Legoland resorts upon completion. The total investment in the project is expected to be around $550 million, according to Lego estimates.
Merlin Entertainment said construction of the Sichuan Legoland resort started in June a year ago and finalized the location for a Legoland resort in Beijing in April 2020. On the other hand, the Universal Beijing Resort is expected to open this spring. The theme park is expected to embrace 10 million tourist trips per year.
Data from US-based consultancy Research and Market showed that the total value of the Chinese theme park market stood at $8.5 billion last year, accounting for 17.3 percent of the global total. The value is expected to reach $13.8 billion in 2027, which will equal 20.4 percent of the world's total by then. The compound average growth rate of the Chinese theme park market will reach 7.2 percent between 2020 and 2027, while it will be 2.6 percent in Japan and 4.2 percent in Canada during the same period.
According to multinational engineering firm AECOM and Shenzhen-based market research firm Zero Power Intelligence, China raced ahead of all the other markets last year by receiving the maximum number of footfalls－about 225 million－at theme parks.
"There are four major drivers for theme parks. These include a densely populated market, upgraded consumption, policy support and the development of intellectual property-based cultural industry. As the Chinese market meets all the above four conditions, it will witness a rapid growth in the next decade," said Liu Zhangming, a senior analyst with TF Securities.