When the existing bits of the unfinished Wonderland amusement park were demolished last spring, a little piece of us died, feeling that Beijing would continue as a huge city with no venue for mindless, outdoor fun.
It seems Universal Studios may have heard our cry. Beijing could be joining Singapore and Tokyo as the destination for a third Universal Studios park in Asia, if The Hollywood Reporter's report from Wednesday is true that the company plans to build a 51-acre site in nearby Tongzhou, east-southeast of the city. Universal wouldn't comment on the report, but using filings for construction permits, recruitment ads for staff (although not on the Beijinger Classifieds, and reports in Chinese media as evidence, not to mention that demolition of area buildings has already begun, it looks like the USD 2 billion project is already underway.
The Universal Studios destination would open in January 2018. This would be the first major foreign theme park development in Beijing. Both Disney and DreamWorks are building parks in Shanghai, with Disney's set to open next year.
This isn't Universal's first foray into Beijing. Lao Beijingers will remember the Universal Studios Experience at Henderson Center in the late 1990s, which was designed to bring a bit of movie magic to central Beijing, but as a multimedia experience, not with theme park rides. Unfortunately, neither Henderson's Jianguomennei location nor the attraction ever caught on, and as the mall died a slow and miserable death, so did the Universal Experience, its iconic Universal globe standing unlit and dusty for months before it was finally removed. Hopefully this new effort will meet with more success than that, or Wonderland, for that matter.
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