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A Harry Potter world and other Universal Studios film theme parks are opening in Beijing

It's the very first time Disney has been outspent for a theme park

Universal Studios Hollywood
In a way, Shanghai theme parks are like shopping malls – fun-malls, if you will – and just like the shopping mall industry in this city, theme parks are booming. Shanghai will soon have its own Legoland, Peppa Pig World and a new Ocean Park, and it already has Disneyland, Happy Valley and Laowai Park (erm, Found 158). But maybe, just like shopping malls, this city has enough theme parks.

Fortunately, China's next big theme park looks to be settling in Beijing. Universal Studios Beijing, first announced in 2014 after 13 years of negotiation, will bring rides and attractions based on the film studio's most popular franchises, like Harry Potter, Transformers and The Fast and the Furious.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, not to be confused with Cambridge via GIPHY

There hasn't been much news on the park's construction since it was first announced, but, according to a recent article by the The Wall Street Journal, Universal Parks and Resorts, along with its Chinese partners, are expanding plans for the 300-acre theme park, increasing the original investment of 3.26 billion USD to a staggering 6.5 billion USD.

This budget surpasses Walt Disney Co's investment of 5.5 billion USD into Shanghai Disney, making Universal Studios Beijing the very first time Disney has been reportedly outspent in regards to theme park investment.

Plans to expand Universal Beijing came after Universal witnessed the success of Shanghai Disney, which drew over 11 million visitors in its first year of opening (and exceeded Disney's own best-case projections). Universal now forecasts that the Beijing park will attract 10 million visitors in its first year, up from an initial projection of 7 million.

Last week, it was also reported that Universal Beijing submitted construction tenders to build '12 amusement facilities' at the park, with a Harry Potter world plus attractions based on the Kung Fu Panda, Minions, Transformers and The Fast and the Furious film franchises already confirmed.

With its doubled investment, Universal Beijing is set to become the largest-ever Universal Studios theme park, bypassing its Orlando flagship. However, with its opening now pushed back to 2021, it seems there's still a good few years before we can take the high-speed rail from Shanghai to Beijing and hop on a transforming tractor trailer wizard minion rollercoaster.

By Leanne Wong and Kenny Ong

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