Theme parks to boost tourism in Dubai and China

Theme parks to boost tourism in Dubai and China
Theme parks and resorts generated more than $16 billion in revenue for Disney last year.
Published: 16 June 2016 - 3:30 a.m.
By: Yasmin Al Heialy

After a decade of planning and investment of $5.5 billion, Disney’s first park in mainland China opens today.

The newest Disney resort occupies nearly 1,000 acres of land in Shanghai, China and represents a major bet that China's growing middle class will spend more and more of their money on travel, tourism and leisure.

It features six separate themed lands, including the Tomorrowland, Treasure Cove, Disneytown and the Enchanted Storybook Castle, the biggest and tallest Disney castle.

The Disney Company has been talking about building a Shanghai theme park since the mid-2000s. The latest version of the project was due to open in late 2015, but construction problems and design changes pushed the date back to summer of 2016.

The park features design features that Disney hopes will appeal to a Chinese audience, such as Shanghai's traditional Shikumen-style architecture and themes from the Chinese zodiac.

Theme parks and resorts generated more than $16 billion in revenue for Disney in 2015.

Dubai is an increasingly popular tourist destination. Latest figures recently released by Dubai Tourism reveal that the country welcomed over 4 million visitors in Q1 2016, a 5.1 percent growth from last year.

“Dubai needs a Disneyland if it’s to attract regional visitors in great numbers beyond the Expo 2020,” said a senior Dubai-based architect.

Speaking during the Construction Week UAE Infrastructure Summit 2015, Issam Ezzedine, principal design architect at National Engineering Bureau, said that if Dubai was to double its hotel room count with up to 40,000 extra hotel rooms built by 2020, then those hotel rooms would need to remain busy once the six month Expo event closed.

“If you’re going to have all these extra hotel rooms and do not build new leisure facilities, for families, those hotels will be isolated. Why don’t we think of Disneyland in Dubai? Dubai is a strong worldwide destination now. There is a Disneyland in the US, in Paris – why don’t we have one in Dubai? Disneyland is one of those developments that brings in huge money regionally, and maybe this is something we need to be considering. Once 2020 is over, we have an opportunity,” he said

However, Dubai has a number of other theme parks currently under development, including the IMG Worlds of Adventure, and the enormous mega project by Dubai Parks and Resorts, set to become the Middle East's largest integrated theme park destination, that will feature motiongate Dubai – a movie based theme park showcasing some of Hollywood’s most beloved characters from DreamWorks Animation, Sony Pictures Studios and Lionsgate as well as the region’s first Legoland Park and a Legoland Water Park.

Dubai Parks and Resorts will also feature Bollywood Parks Dubai, the first theme park based on the sights and sounds of Bollywood.

The mega project is on track to launch in October 2016.

Dubai expects to welcome 25 million visitors in 2020, most of them to visit the Expo 2020 site. Dubai brings in 11.5 million tourists and visitors a year - less than half that expected in four years' time.

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