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Universal to Open Beijing Theme Park — Possibly in 2019

HONG KONG — Universal Parks & Resorts is to open a $3.27 billion (RMB20 billion) theme park in Beijing.

The park is expected to open its doors on a first phase in 2019, though at a press conference in Beijing on Monday Universal declined to confirm the date.

The first phase is expected to contain movie themed attractions, a City Walk and the world’s first Universal Hotel. It will also “integrate Chinese traditional and modern cultural elements,” according to the Beijing Daily. Subsequent phases could be substantially bigger.

The park will be owned and operated in conjunction with Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Company, a consortium of four Chinese state-owned enterprises. It recently paid some $300 million for the land needed for the park in an East Beijing suburb called Tongzhou.

Tom Williams, CEO of Universal Parks & Resorts, said that the Beijing park would seek to attract visitors from the Asia region beyond mainland China. In a video message Steven Spielberg said that he would be participating in the design.

Universal currently owns theme parks in two other Asian locations; Japan and Singapore. The Japanese park is understood to be considering a stock market listing as a way of raising capital for future expansion.

A host of other parks are planned or being developed. Disney is expected to open its park near Shanghai at the end of 2015 or early 2016. DreamWorks is in partnership with local developers to build its Dream Center in Shanghai that could open in 2016, while the U.S.’s Six Flags group has plans to open several in China, including one in Tianjin in 2018.

Local property and entertainment group Dalian Wanda is also opening patchwork of large scale parks and smaller ones integrated into shopping malls. Film and TV group Huayi Brothers is also developing multiple pars and opened its first on Hainan Island earlier this year.

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