In recent years, international theme park brands such as Shanghai Disney and Universal Studios have poured into the domestic market, and local theme parks represented by brands such as Chimelong and Huaqiang Fangte are also growing. International brand theme parks have become the “top stream” of the industry by virtue of their strong size and long-term accumulated fame. In contrast, there are still gaps in IP incubation, operation and other aspects of local theme parks.
The Beijing Urban Sub-center recently announced that this year it will further promote the construction of the second phase of the Beijing Universal Theme Park. Since its opening in September last year, the first phase of Beijing Universal Theme Park has become one of the most popular scenic spots in the country. The operating revenue of that year reached 1.645 billion yuan, and it has received more than 2.1 million tourists, driving the development of surrounding supporting industries.
In recent years, theme parks have become a hot word in the cultural and tourism industry. Theme parks introduced from abroad, such as Shanghai Disneyland and Universal Studios Beijing, have become “top class” in the industry with their strong size and long-term reputation. In contrast, there are still gaps in IP incubation and operation of local theme parks. How can they break the situation in the face of competitive pressure?
The number and quality of theme parks have increased
Recently, the news that Lego theme park will officially land in Fangshan District of Beijing spread widely. At present, there are three Lego parks under construction in China, which are located in Meishan, Sichuan, Shanghai and Shenzhen. In addition, the first Paramount theme park in China will also land in Kunming, Yunnan.
The “Splendid China” miniature scenic spot in Shenzhen, which opened in 1989, is considered as the first theme park in China. After entering the new century, international theme park brands have flooded into the domestic market, and local theme parks represented by brands such as Chimelong and Huaqiang Fangte are also growing. At present, about 3000 theme parks have been developed nationwide.
In addition to the increase in number, the quality of theme parks is also rising. The popularity of Shanghai Disneyland, which opened in 2016, has always been high, and it has been in the leading position in domestic theme parks for a long time. It took 20 years from the preparation to the completion and opening of Beijing Universal Theme Park, bringing many surprises to tourists.
Local theme parks are also becoming mature. Some of the theme parks such as Haichang, Changlong and Huaqiang Fangte are comparable to world-class theme parks in terms of hardware. Unlike the international brand theme parks that prefer big cities, most of the local theme parks aim at small and medium-sized cities.
Entertainment facilities are available, but IP is insufficient
The soul of the theme park is the theme, and IP is the core content of the theme. Industry insiders pointed out that although the scale of local theme parks is growing, compared with internationally renowned theme parks, IP is not very “competitive”.
Wei Xiang, a professor of the Institute of Finance and Strategy of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Worker’s Daily that theme parks appeared in large numbers in the urban and suburban areas after 2000, but they were mainly comprehensive theme parks developed in cooperation with the development of tourism real estate and commercial real estate. The investment in the development of professional theme parks was obviously insufficient, and the degree of attention to IP development was also relatively low.
Xiao Xiao, a tourism expert who has experienced dozens of theme parks, said that compared with large international theme parks, many local theme parks have all kinds of entertainment facilities, such as roller coasters, ferris wheels, and jumping machines, but ignored the creation of interactive scenes and immersive scenes with IP, and also lacked interactive entertainment programs. “The theme is not obvious enough, and it is not very different from ordinary amusement parks.”.
In recent years, relying on the “bear haunting” IP, the Fonte theme park has achieved high popularity. A few days ago, Bubble Mart, a well-known domestic fashion play enterprise, will also “test the water” offline theme park, which is also questioned by some who have IP but lack stories.
Need to enhance content R&D capability
Wei Xiang believes that there are obvious differences between theme parks and tourism real estate. The development logic of theme parks is mainly based on the industrialization of content products and the intellectual property of content product research and development, that is, IP-based. However, content research and development needs long-term accumulation and massive investment, and local theme parks still have a long way to go.
“Both Shanghai Disney and Universal Studios Beijing have a large number of mature IPs, which are different from most of the domestic real estate companies that operate theme parks. They also have strong content research and development capabilities and can constantly launch new products that meet the market demand.” Wei Xiang said that to strengthen the IP of content products, local theme parks should find the correct development logic of theme parks and compete in the right direction.
The international “top stream” theme park has brought pressure to local peers, but also brought learning opportunities, which is beneficial to the whole theme park industry. When talking about competition, the relevant person in charge of Changzhou China Dinosaur Park pointed out that China’s market is actually very large, the tastes and preferences of Chinese consumers are also many yuan, and there are many opportunities for local theme parks.
Wu Ruoshan, deputy director of the Cultural Tourism Policy Research Center of the China Institute of Labor Relations, believes that to break through the siege, local theme parks need to dig deep into the connotation of traditional Chinese culture, combine modern fashion elements, create Chinese brand symbols, and tell a good story of Chinese culture. In addition, we should increase support in policy, finance, capital, talent, technology, basic research and other fields, promote the consumption of IP authorized derivatives and supporting facilities, and strengthen the production and presentation of immersive and interactive high-tech entertainment experience and new entertainment content.