Universal to build $3.3B theme park in Beijing

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Universal to build $3.3B theme park in Beijing

Comcast will team up with Chinese investors to spend more than 20 billion yuan ($3.3 billion) to build one of its Universal theme parks in Beijing.

The Chinese government has approved the development of the theme park, which will be built on a 120-hectare (300-acre) site and eventually expanded to 400 hectares, Comcast said in a statement on Monday. It will include new attractions specific to the Beijing park as well as the first Universal-themed hotel, the Philadelphia-based company said.

Comcast, a media and entertainment company with businesses spanning cable television, film and Internet services, is expanding in China to tap the growing middle class in the world’s second-largest economy. The Beijing attraction will compete with a Walt Disney theme park in Shanghai that is scheduled to open next year.

“We will create a unique experience that spotlights hugely popular Western entertainment concepts as well as China’s rich cultural legacy,” Tom Williams, chairman and CEO of Universal Parks and Resorts, said in the statement.

Universal Parks will own the Beijing park jointly with Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment, a consortium of four state-owned companies that was founded in November 2013 to support the attraction, Comcast said.

It operates theme parks including Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Orlando, with attractions including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Jurassic Park River Adventure.

Further details on the Beijing park, including its opening timeframe, will be provided at a later date, Comcast said. The attraction is expected to begin operating in 2019, the state-run Beijing Daily reported Oct. 13, citing China’s National Development and Reform Commission.

The proportion of middle-class urban households in China, with an annual income of 60,000 to 229,000 yuan, will jump to 76 percent by 2022 from 68 percent in 2012, according to a McKinsey estimate last year.

The Shanghai Disney Resort, with investment totaling more than $5 billion, includes two hotels and an outdoor recreational area and will be almost 1,000 acres in size when it opens, CFO Jay Rasulo said in December. That would be roughly the size of the Universal Beijing park when the final phases are completed, according to Comcast’s statement. Bloomberg

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