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Disney vs Wanda: how the two theme parks stack up

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The competition between China's theme park operators is heating up, thanks to two big players. Disney - which already operates a park in Hong Kong - has a new US$5.5 billion Shanghai resort that opens June 16, and billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group just launched the first of 15 entertainment complexes that it plans to build over the next four years.

[HANOI] The competition between China's theme park operators is heating up, thanks to two big players. Disney - which already operates a park in Hong Kong - has a new US$5.5 billion Shanghai resort that opens June 16, and billionaire Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda Group just launched the first of 15 entertainment complexes that it plans to build over the next four years.

Mr Wang has said Disney's one "tiger" - its resort in Shanghai - will be no match for his "pack of wolves" and contends the world's biggest entertainment company has misread the Chinese market. Disney said the comments were "not worthy of a response". Visitors will ultimately have the final say.

Here's a snapshot of how these two theme park operators compare.

Current number of parks

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Disney's Shanghai theme park, which opens this month, will be its sixth globally and capitalizes on the company's six decades of running resorts. Nanchang Wanda City is the Chinese conglomerate's first theme park, but the company has an aggressive plan to build another 14 parks across China by 2020, with an additional three abroad.

Cost of building newest park

Disney's park cost US$5.5 billion, while Wanda has spent US$3.2 billion at its park in Nanchang. Mr Wang said on the Chinese Central Television channel on May 22 that he could not comprehend how Disney had spent so much.

Size of complex

Disney's Shanghai resort covers 963 acres; Wanda's Nanchang park covers 494 acres. Both Disney and Wanda have generous support from the local governments where their parks are based. Land was cleared for the complexes and state investments supported transportation infrastructure, including subway stations and new highways to feed the parks.

Number of hotels in the newest park

The Shanghai Disney Resort has two lodgings, including the Toy Story Hotel based on its popular animated movie, with a total of 1,220 rooms. Nanchang Wanda City has five hotels, one of which Wanda bills as a six-star facility. It plans to open a total of nine hotels.

Number of attractions

Shanghai Disney Resort has not made public how many rides it has. Wanda's theme park boasts 50 attractions.

Signature ride

Shanghai Disneyland features the new Tron roller-coaster ride, where guests are strapped to cycles resembling motorbikes. Wanda City's theme park boasts a roller coaster billed as China's fastest and longest and a free-fall ride touted as the country's highest.

Number of restaurants

Both Shanghai Disney Resort and Nanchang Wanda City say they have about 50 restaurants and eateries.

Capacity

Disney has declined to reveal capacity size or annual attendance estimates but analysts estimate the Shanghai park will attract 15 to 30 million visitors annually. Wanda estimates its Nanchang Wanda City will receive 10 million visitors annually.

Jobs created

Shanghai Disney Resort has hired about 10,000 people while Nanchang Wanda City employs 20,000.

Ticket prices

Shanghai Disney Resort tickets are twice the price of Wanda City's. Disneyland charges 370 yuan (S$76) for regular tickets and 499 yuan during peak days. Wanda City's theme park tickets are 198 yuan for regular days and 248 yuan during peak days.

Signature attraction

The Shanghai Disney Resort features the biggest castle Disney has ever built and every one of its princesses is represented. In Nanchang, the Wanda City has a stunning exterior that resembles giant teacups in the traditional blue-and-white porcelain pattern of southeastern Jiangxi province.

For those who don't like rides Shanghai Disney Resort has a full-sized Broadway theater where the Lion King musical will be performed for the first time in Mandarin. Nanchang Wanda City has a cineplex with 14 movie halls and 3000 seats total.

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