Universal Doubles Budget For Its Beijing Park, Outspending Disney

Developers recently doubled Universal’s budget for its upcoming Beijing park after evaluating the success of Shanghai Disney Resort and the booming Chinese theme park market. The now $6.5 billion investment will be the most ever spent on a theme park at the time of its opening.

Shanghai Disney Resort previously held the record with its $5.5 billion budget during the park’s 2016 opening. Dennis Spiegel, a theme park consultant, claims this will be the first time Disney is outspent on a theme park.

Shanghai Disney brought in 11 million visitors in its first year, which made Universal and its Chinese partners optimistic for the new Beijing park. Also, the Chinese theme park market is expected to surpass the American market in the coming years, hitting a projected $14 billion in 2022.

Universal announced a $3.26 billion budget and 2020 opening date back in 2014, but will now launch the park in 2021 with a $6.5 billion budget.

The budget was doubled to include plans for a CityWalk shopping, dining, and entertainment district; Universal-themed hotel; Harry Potter land; and attractions based on the Transformers, Minions, and Kung Fu Panda franchises.

Construction for the park has barely started and Universal has struggled to retain top talent for engineering, design, and architecture.

Comcast Corporation owns Universal Parks & Resorts, a unit of NBCUniversal, and only has a 30% stake in the Beijing park while its Chinese partners own the remaining 70%. Universal is partnering with Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Company, which is owned by 5 Chinese companies.

The partners took out a loan for almost $4 billion last month to cover 60% of the costs. This 25-year loan is believed to be the largest syndicated loan for a theme park ever and included 9 Chinese banks, led by Agricultural Bank of China Ltd.

Universal Beijing is expected to open in 2021.

Source: Wall Street Journal

5 thoughts on “Universal Doubles Budget For Its Beijing Park, Outspending Disney

  • May 8, 2018 at 12:08 pm
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    I find this fascinating. For years now on this site people in the comments have used Shanghai Disney as a scapegoat for all the woes at the mainland parks. Since the park has practically paid for itself in the first year according to Iger, and since the dramatic expense of Universal now shows that there’s tons of money to be made with Chinese parks, I wonder when folks will start eating their words?

    Reply
    • May 8, 2018 at 12:54 pm
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      I have the same perception as you (Commenters using SHDL as the scapegoat for almost anything…) and I can tell you, OMG is there ever money to be made with Chinese parks! Went to SHDL on 2 weekdays off-season (end of March) and there were no more FP available for Soarin’ 30 minutes after park opening. That’s even worse than Tokyo Disney! Shop and restaurants were packed, but the hotel felt less crowded. Now HKDL was another story: light crowds and very pleasant 🙂 I’m sure that’ll change once their expansion is completed.

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      • May 8, 2018 at 2:45 pm
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        OMG, you’ve been to Shanghai and Hong Kong and Tokyo? One of my new favorite people, haha. Want to do the suite myself some time.

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        • May 8, 2018 at 3:16 pm
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          LOL! Why, thank you very much 🙂 SHDL was so busy that I actually used their Premier Access Pass: I paid between 13-19$ US per ride/per person to have a FP that can be used anytime during the day. You open the Disney App, whip out your credit card to make the purchase and then you receive an email with your QR code and you simply go back and ride at any convenient time you want. It was pretty sweet when we decided on the spot that we wanted to re-ride Pirates (Battle of the Sunken Treasure) again but the wait was ridiculous… We used this 4 times in 2 days. Yes, it’s very elitist (you’ll ride more if you have the $) but I thought that was a genius idea. I think Universal has something similar if you stay on property? And I hope you get to do the Asian-park trifecta, it’s a great experience!

          Reply
  • May 8, 2018 at 12:39 pm
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    I think Universal’s problem is they are always chasing after Disney. Sure, they are putting more money into it, but wouldn’t it be nice to see Universal come up with it’s own plan, it’s own location, and make Disney feel the need to follow them? Oh wait, they did that in Dubai and the only thing that got constructed was the archway. Always the bridesmaid.

    Reply

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