Disney vs. Wanda: How the Two Theme Parks Stack Up

It's Wang vs. Walt in China's Theme Park Wars

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 $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.

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

Visitors walk through a security check at "Wanda City" in Nanchang, east China's Jiangxi province on May 28, 2016. The Chinese conglomerate Wanda on May 28 opened its first theme park, with its billionaire boss declaring war on Disney weeks before the American entertainment giant launches a similar attraction in Shanghai. / AFP / STR / China OUT        (Photo credit should read STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Visitors pass through a security checkpoint to enter Wanda Cultural Tourism City in Nanchang.

Photographer: AFP via Getty Images

With its opening in Shanghai this month, Disney will have six resorts globally, capitalizing on the company's six decades of running theme parks. Some of the resorts have more than one park or attraction. 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 $5.5 billion, while Wanda has spent $3.2 billion at its park in Nanchang. 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

Aerial view of the Toy Story-themed hotel in the Shanghai Disney Resort under construction in Pudong, Shanghai, China, 12 December 2015.
Aerial view of the Toy Story-themed hotel in Shanghai.
Photographer: Shanghai EYE - Imaginechina via AP Photo

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

Visitors ride the Tron bikes at the unveiling of six themed parks of Shanghai Disney Resort in July 2015.
Visitors ride the Tron bikes at the unveiling of six themed parks of Shanghai Disney Resort in July 2015.
Photographer: ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images

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

Applicants wait in line at a job fair for a chance to work at the Shanghai Disney Resort on March 2.
Applicants wait in line at a job fair for a chance to work at the Shanghai Disney Resort on March 2.
Photographer: Imaginechina via AP Photo

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 ($56) 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 porcelain-themed building complex at the Nanchang Wanda Cultural Tourism City.

The porcelain-themed building complex at Wanda City.

Photographer: Chen Yang/Imaginechina via AP Photo

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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