Wednesday, January 04, 2017

Viacom Breaks Ground On First Nickelodeon Theme Park In China

Sanshui New Town Management Committee, Hong Kong Elite Global Group and Viacom International Media Networks (VIMN) are kicking off construction on the Foshan Cultural and Ecological Coastal Project, which will include Nickelodeon Cultural Resort, China's first Nickelodeon theme park!

The estimated RMB 11.9 billion ($1.71 billion) development project will span approximately 3 million square meters (750 acres), with around a third of the space (250 set acres) dedicated to Nickelodeon-themed attractions. It is anticipated to open in 2020 and attract 6.7 million tourists in the first year. Nickelodeon Cultural Resort will incorporate Foshan’s cultural tourism while leveraging Nickelodeon’s iconic brand power.

Viacom International Media Networks has yet to announce what attractions will be included within the Nickelodeon theme park, however, Ron Johnson, the Executive Vice President (EVP) of Nickelodeon and Viacom Consumer Products (NVCP) for VIMN, remarked: “We are thrilled to be part of this incredible initiative and groundbreaking [ceremony] today. As the first Nickelodeon-themed attraction in China, we will give kids and families in Foshan and across China the opportunity to interact with iconic and beloved characters, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora the Explorer and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, through this world-class entertainment destination. On-the-ground experiences like this offer kids and families an opportunity to experience and interact with the characters that they love in new, meaningful ways.”

Governmental officials from the Sanshui district of Foshan City stated: “In 2015, Foshan set an aim to build a ‘culture-oriented’ city and deployed an innovative cultural developmental strategy to promote our city value. This cultural and ecological coastal project is a perfect match for our goal to make culture and tourism a strategic industry. We look forward to the completion of the project, which we believe will bring huge benefits to the state’s economy. In the meantime, we will give full support to Viacom International Media Networks and Elite Global Group for the successful implementation of their innovative plans.”

Elite Global Group added: “We are thankful for the support we gained from the government. They have been very welcoming to our project and everything went as planned and scheduled. The groundbreaking ceremony today signifies the beginning of our win-win project for the local economy in Foshan and Guangzhou as well as the tourists in China.”

Viacom's partners in the project are Hong Kong conglomerate Elite Global Group and the Sanshui New Town Management Committee, a government-backed entity charged with developing the Sanshui district of Foshan.

Fuelled by a growing and increasingly entertainment-focused middle class, China's theme park industry is on track to surpass that of the U.S. within the next few years. By 2020, ticket sales at Chinese parks will surge to $12 billion from $4.6 billion in 2015, according to a report released in November by market research firms Euromonitor International and World Travel Market. Theme park revenue in the U.S., meanwhile, is expected to inch upward to $9 billion in 2020 from $8 billion in 2015.

Major international park brands have been hurrying to enter the market, while local real estate giant Dalian Wanda Group plans to roll out 15 mega-resorts across China by 2020.

In September, Universal Studios signed a deal with a Chinese consortium to build a multibillion-dollar theme park in Beijing, to open in 2019. Later this year, Dreamworks Animation and Chinese partners are expected to complete a $2.4 billion entertainment complex in Shanghai, featuring bars, restaurants and performance venues.

Disney's $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai opened June in June 2016 and the company says it will come close to breaking even by the end of its first full year of operation. Shanghai Disneyland broke ground on a Toy Story-themed expansion in October, just four months after opening.

Viacom last year opened the first Nickelodeon-themed attraction in Asia, Nickelodeon Lost Lagoon in Malaysia.

Sources: TVKids, The Hollywood Reporter; Additional source: Metric Conversion.
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