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

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