UNIVERSAL STUDIOS BEIJING
Universal Studios Theme Parks
Proposed New Park for 2020
Park News - (1/19/18) A reader came across an interesting audition casting request for a new attraction opening at Universal Studios Beijing in 2020. According to the casting call sheet they mention that there is a 'celebrity' component to it that they can't reveal at this time as the signing of NDAs will be required prior to the audition. From the look of things, they are seeking a variety of actors (speaking and non-speaking) to use in a shoot for the attraction, and will pay them a daily rate for the shoot plus a buyout fee for the park to use them footage 'in perpetuity'.
While they don't name the attraction, the majority of the rolls being cast are for Chinese male and female archers, labeled as Great Wall Defenders. Of course this brings the obvious to mind... that this could be some kind of attraction themed around the world of Universal's "The Great Wall" film staring Matt Damon. While the film was essentially a flop in the US, it made over 85% of it's box office in foreign theaters with the majority of the foreign box office coming from China.
Other roles being cast are for a Chinese Female Host (who speaks fluent Mandarian), a primary Young Chinese Female Warrior described as "Arya Stark meets Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman", Male and Female Sorcerer roles that can either be Chinese or Caucasian, plus all the previously mentioned Great Wall Defender Archer roles.
As for the attraction itself... I do have to wonder if this is some kind of 4D Theater kind of attraction, or if it will be some kind of dark ride with a lot of projection screens. Anyone know more?
Oh, and if you haven't seen The Great Wall, I've included the trailer below.
(1/9/18) BlooLoop has posted an interview with Universal’s Paul Osterhout who talks a bit about IPs in parks as well as what’s in development for Universal’s new Beijing property. Paul serves as a VP of Universal Parks & Resorts and is part of the team working on the new Beijing Resort. Amongst the details confirmed, he mentions that in addition to the theme park, Beijing will also have “our first Universal branded hotel.”
The resort will include plenty of things to make the Chinese visitors “feel welcome and at home”, while still maintaining the feel of a Universal theme park. He also says that they will debut things in Beijing that they haven’t done before at any other Universal parks in the world. While they are still a bit away from being ready to make a formal announcement regarding the final details of the property, he also confirms that they have been testing various IP concepts in China to get a firm grasp on what Chinese guests will like the best, including IPs they’ve “never created attractions with before.” Follow the link to read the rest of the article and other details.
(11/11/17) Interesting aerial photos of the future Universal Studios Beijing site have bene posted to ThemeparX over the last several weeks, where it is now clear that land is being cleared and prepped for future construction on the site.
(10/6/17) Universal has announced that they have hired Tom Mehrmann to serve as President and GM for the new Universal Beijing Theme Park and Resort complex under construction. Mehrmann arrives from his previous job where he served as the CEO of Ocean Park in Hong Kong for 13 years and was able to really build up and expand that park to huge success, all while competing against Hong Kong Disneyland.
(4/4/17) ThemeparX has posted some new pictures from the future site of Universal Studios Beijing along with graphics showing off the current layout of the planned theme park resort project. From the look of things the overall resort area seems to have long-term plans to built up to two possible theme parks along with a waterpark mixed in with several resort hotels. Right now they are looking to open it in 2021.
(3/17/17) A small update about the Universal Studios Beijing theme park resort has been posted by BlooLoop this week. Amongst the new details I've noticed is that they mention that about a third of the park's attractions will be themed to properties that will appeal to the Chinese audience. The first phase of the project, besides the theme park itself, will also include two hotels for a combined total of 1,200 to 1,400 rooms. One of which is expected to be given a Universal brand.
Projected to open in 2020, they are also quick to note that the ride equipment for the park will be "sources globally", which quite a bit expected to come from European suppliers. However Chinese suppliers "will be considered provided their products were of 'world-class quality'".
(11/2/16) According to the latest news reports there was a ground breaking ceremony held for the new Universal Studios Beijing theme park project in China on Monday, along with an updated timeline to open the park in 2020 now, delaying the opening from the previous 2019 date.
(1/22/16) A batch of new pictures from the future site of Universal Studios Beijing have been posted to ThemeparX this week. From the look of things reported there is some extensive land clearing going on, as well as work to change the course of a small river that runs through the property. Also the on-site person believes that several older buildings that were on site may have already been demolished, while others are preparing for it.
(11/24/15) While I haven't heard much else about the planned Universal Studios Beijing since the groundbreaking took place, the one rumor I have heard was that Universal was said to be in talks with B&M about providing one or more roller coasters for the new park. I know what appeared to be a clone of the Incredible Hulk coaster was seen in the aerial concept artwork for the park that was released previously. Of course, it wouldn't be Hulk themed this time of course, but given another SciFi related theme instead, possibly Men In Black. It would almost make perfect sense for this to be a clone of the new version of Hulk coming to Islands of Adventure in 2016, as they could clone the new design easily.
(11/13/15) Photos from the official ground breaking of the Universal Beijing theme park resort project were posted to ThemeparX, along with a few photos of the site itself. Just follow the link and scroll down.
(10/20/15) A few new images from the future site of Universal Studios Beijing have been posted to ThemeParx.
(9/16/15) Comcast is said to have signed an official agreement with a China consortium (Shouhuan Beijing Cultural Tourism Investment Co. Ltd.) to build Universal Studios Beijing in 2019, with an official signing ceremony taking place at Comcast's New York HQ on Sunday. A 300 acre location has been selected in Tongzhou, east of Beijing, with plans also in the works to expand the project to also include a second theme park, a water park, and up to five hotels on a 1,000 acre site.
(7/28/15) ThemeparX seems to have locked down the exact location of where Universal Studios Beijing will be built and even has posted some great new pictures from the site taken this week. Apparently about a year ago the site, which is currently overgrown with tall grass, was home to a number of houses which have all been demolished as if they never existed inside the fenced off green zone.
According to rumors and some local news reports, construction on the site could begin before the end of the year and the theme park / resort could be ready to open as early as 2019.
(10/15/14) Disney & More has scanned around the artwork for Universal Beijing a bit and identified what appears to be several exciting attractions that can be seen better if you zoom in a bit. They’ve identified more clear examples of the Transformers ride building (which looks like a copy of the Orlando version with a blue/red Optimus Prime figure), and areas that appear to be Diagon Alley, Escape from Gringotts, King’s Cross Station, Hogwarts Castle, Hogsmeade Village, Flight of the Hippogriff and Revenge of the Mummy.
Scanning the artwork myself some more, I can see another big blue outdoor coaster just to the right of the Revenge of the Mummy building, just in front of a creepy looking medieval fortress looking structure which makes me wonder if this might be a single track version of a Dragon’s Challenge style coaster. To the right of that in the background is another large attraction building of some kind that I can’t identify that bordered up against the Jurassic Park area. The very “green” area between the park entrance and Shrek’s land of Far Far Away is also interesting, as it has a couple of large unknown attraction buildings. Swinging back to the left side of the entrance I can see a copy of the Universal Music Plaza Stage venue with the unique lawn and concrete pathway out in front. To the left of there is a large and very interesting attraction building, which appears to be a perfect copy of the Men In Black attraction building from Orlando, as seen from the backside, featuring the large curved front wall facade.
Of course, this is all just concept artwork and everything is subject to change of course for the final product, but this sure looks like it is starting out to have a very exciting lineup of attractions right from the start.
(10/14/14) Universal’s Parks & Resorts CEO, Tom Williams, announced that they have signed a deal to build Universal Beijing, a $3.3 billion theme park resort property that will open in 2019. The 1000 acre Beijing property will include an assortment of rides and attractions in the 300 acre theme park from the other Universal theme parks as well as new attractions that may reflect China’s cultural heritage. Outside the theme park there will be a Universal CityWalk retail/dining zone as well as a themed Universal resort hotel.
Unlike how Universal Studios Japan and Shanghai were essentially a “Franchise” kind of deal with a local owner, much like Disney’s own Japanese theme park, Comcast NBCUniversal is actually building this new Beijing theme park resort with four Chinese state-owned partners, making it the first “foreign-owned” theme park in the Chinese capital. The park property will go into an eastern suburb of Beijing named Tongzhou, and they report that the land for the park has already been purchased in a deal competed back in March.
No attractions were named for the new park, but it seems a fairly certain bet that existing attractions based on films popular in China like Transformers, Despicable Me and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter are more than likely to make it into the park on opening date, while Spiderman would be left off that list of course due to Disney’s ownership of Marvel. Based on what little I’ve been able to make out from the single piece of concept artwork, it looks like the one hotel will serve as the entrance portal for the theme park (much like Disneyland Paris or Tokyo DisneySea), and I can make out what appears to be Jurassic Park themed buildings in the back of the central lagoon, an area that appears to be similar looking to the Shrek themed Far Far Away land from the Singapore park, some modern or futuristic looking buildings to the left that could be a new SciFi City themed area, perfect for Transformers, and just beyond that the launch tube / lift hill of an Incredible Hulk style coaster. Going back to the unrealized plans for Universal Dubai, that park had plans for a Hulk clone as well, but they were going to theme it to Men In Black instead. Of course that park was also rumored to have had a great new theme for a Men In Black shoot-em-up ride replacement as well… using Ghostbusters instead. So there is no telling what we may see appear in Beijing, but we know one thing… it’s going to be exciting!
(7/31/14) An interesting pair of updates has come this week about the proposed Universal Studios Beijing project. ThemeParX mentions that while Tom Williams is telling the media that they have no active plans to build any park in China at the moment, the demolition of existing structures and site clearing for it has already begun in China. A photo update from a visit to the site on June 19th, 2014 posted to TheThemeParkGuy confirms that the site clearing really is taking place. The comparisons to how the site for Shanghai Disneyland was cleared with the removal of existing buildings, and the relocation of locals, is easy to make.
(5/5/14) Motley Fool ponders Comcast / Universal’s entry attempt into the Chinese theme park market and believes that they will compete just fine by the time they open their theme park project in 2018. Read all the details here.
(3/6/14) The Hollywood Reporter claims that Universal Studios Beijing is now in the works, with budget of $1.95 billion for the new resort property and theme park. Construction is said to begin in Q4 2014, with demolition of some existing structures on the site already said to be ongoing. If all goes as planned, they hope to open the new theme park resort by January 2018. The project is said to be a partnership between Universal and the Beiging Tourism Group.
(1/9/14) Brian Roberts, Comcast’s CEO, predicted on Tuesday that they expect to take marketshare away from Disney and other theme park chains with their plans to invest in their Universal Studios theme parks. “We’re doubling down on theme parks.”
Meanwhile, while neither Comcast or NBCUniversal will say a word about any of the rumors about a new theme park in China, confidential Screamscape sources have confirmed that the a rough deal to build “Universal Studios Beijing” is fairly solid at this point. Enough so that Universal Creative is already starting the process of gearing up the staff needed to make it happen. Much like Universal Studios Singapore, the park and surrounding resort is expected to form very quickly once the green light is given, though it is said Universal will have a little more control about the rest of the resort complex as well this time around.
(1/7/14) According to this report at ThemeParkInsider, a report found from Shanghai Securities News claims that an application to begin construction on a Universal Studios park in the Tongzhou District of Beijing was filed, with work to begin in late 2014 on this $2 billion project. They claim that demolition of existing structures and site clearing on the site has already begun, with a goal of opening the park in 2018.
(1/6/14) Is Universal Studios working on a new theme park concept for China once again? It was reported back in March 2012 that Comcast/NBCUniversal was meeting with the city of Tianjin (China’s sixth largest city) to discuss a possible park or studio in the port city. Previously there are said to have been many on and off again discussions for building a possible Universal theme park in China over the years going back to when Hong Kong Disneyland was first announced.
Today we have a small piece of evidence that suggests that negotiations with China are still taking place and may be moving forward, as Universal Creative has job openings for several project managers who can speak Mandarin.