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Hello Kitty Theme Park Coming to China

9 May
Hello Kitty wedding scene

Sanrio Puroland boat ride, Tama City, Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Broke Hoedown was kind enough to tip me off to the news that Sanrio has given permission for a Hello Kitty theme park to be built in Anji, China, just about a 3-hour drive from Pudong, the site of the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland. From AFP:

The creators of Hello Kitty, Japan’s world-famous cartoon icon of cuteness, have agreed to a $230-million outdoor theme park in China, the first on foreign soil, a company spokesman said Monday.

The Hello Kitty-themed amusement park will be completed in the city of Anji, in east China’s Zhejiang province, in 2014 under an agreement between Sanrio Co. and its Chinese partner, Sanrio spokesman Kazuo Tohmatsu said.

Sounds to me like this new Hello Kitty theme park could leverage Sanrio’s experience with Sanrio Harmonyland, in Japan’s Oita prefecture. The article also mentions “another plan to build a much smaller indoor amusement park featuring Sanrio characters in Malaysia in 2012,” which sounds reminiscent of my dearly-loved Sanrio Puroland (which I visited in 2002).

I think Mr. Broke Hoedown’s just building a case for me to join him in some trans-Pacific travel once these new theme parks come online. He’s planning a trip to Mongolia in a couple years, which might well take him through Beijing en route, and while Beijing and Shanghai aren’t exactly neighboring cities, they’re a heck of a lot closer to each other than either is to Boston.

Unhappy Disney Workers in Hong Kong and China

12 Sep

Two news stories caught my eye today, technically unrelated but both datelined “Hong Kong”.

DIS News reports that Disney has been found to violate Chinese labor laws:

Workers at a Chinese factory making Disney toys are overworked, underpaid, exposed to dangerous toxins and forced to live in filthy conditions, a labour rights group said in a report Wednesday.

The EarthTimes reports that things aren’t all that much happier at Hong Kong Disneyland:

On top of its disappointingly low crowds, a survey conducted by the Disney Cast Members Union among 470 of the 5,000-odd staff found that 63 per cent were unhappy with management, complaining largely of unequal treatment and what they see as unfair work distribution.

More than 80 per cent of respondents said they wanted Hong Kong Disneyland to bring its labour practices in line with those at the Disney park in Florida, where staff can be accompanied by union officials at disciplinary hearings and have access to independent arbitration.

Chinese Censors Slash Chow Yun-Fat’s POTC Role

15 Jun

As if Chow Yun-Fat wasn’t already suffering from a lack of sufficient screen time in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End . . . Chinese censors have cut him back even further:

Chinese movie star Chow Yun-Fat’s role in “Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End” has been slashed in half by censors in China for vilifying and defacing the Chinese and insulting Singapore.

The film, which was released on the mainland early this week, shows only about 10 minutes of Chow’s scenes while in the Hollywood version his scenes take up about 20 minutes of the film.

MGM Will Build in Shanghai, Universal in South Korea

22 May

Plenty of good news for Asian theme park fans! VarietyAsiaOnline reports that Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer will build a theme park in Shanghai, while Reuters brings news of a Universal park in South Korea. From Reuters:

King Kong and Spider-man are coming to South Korea.

Universal Studios said on Tuesday it would build a South Korean park featuring characters from blockbuster movies by 2012, becoming the latest Hollywood firm to expand in Asia’s burgeoning entertainment market.

The project, announced a day after U.S. film giant Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) unveiled a plan for a Shanghai park, highlights Hollywood’s push to take the world’s most popular entertainment to the world’s most populous region.

Video of Chinese Fake Disney Park

10 May

Have any doubts about whether Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park is a Disneyland knockoff? Just watch this:

Man, seeing those beloved characters represented through ill-fitting, cheaply-made fur costumes . . . and when they take their heads off in front of Guests . . . I can’t help but shudder.

But does anybody else find this all a bit amusing, especially in the context of the Mickey Mouse Protection Act? And the fact that many of Disney’s best-loved classic characters are based on public-domain folklore?

And there’s more on the Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park situation today from DIS News:

Disney bosses are in crisis talks with the owners of a ‘fake’ Chinese version of the famous amusement park.

The Shijingshan Amusement Park included a raven-haired woman with seven men in elf suits, a ‘Mickey’ mouse and other Disney-style characters.

Deputy general manager, Yin Zhiqiang, said: “The characters in our park just look a little bit similar to theirs. But the faces, clothes, sizes and appearances are different.”

“We do not have any agreements with Disney.”

Copycat Disneyland in Beijing

4 May

Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park

An avid reader tipped me off to this last night, and now it’s all over the interweb . . . there’s a Disneyland copycat park in Beijing called Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park, and it’s got the world in a flurry over copyright violations.From The Standard:

With its slogan “Disneyland is too far,” Beijing’s Shijingshan Amusement Park features a replica of Cinderella’s Castle, with staff dressed like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and other Disney characters.None of this is authorized by Disney – but that has not stopped the state-owned park from creating its own counterfeit version of the Magic Kingdom in a brazen example of the sort of open and widespread copyright piracy that has Washington fuming.

The United States announced Monday it would file a case at the World Trade Organization over rampant copyright piracy in China, a practice which US companies say deprives them of billions of dollars each year.

Associated Content (The People’s Media Company) also has the story. Slashdot has great commentary per usual. Best of all, though, is the official site of Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park, complete with Happy Tour!

Disney Still Deciding Where to Build Park in China

9 Apr

The Nation reports Disney is still hoping for China theme park, but Shanghai is not only candidate:

“We are sure to build a second park in China in the long run, but we are now reviewing the market,” Xinhua news agency quoted Wing T. Chao, Disney’s vice head of development in the Asian and Pacific region, as saying.

Chao said the company had yet to decide on a location for its second theme park in China after Hong Kong Disneyland opened in September 2005, nor had any construction plans been formulated.

Hong Kong Disneyland May Need to Refinance

8 Feb

The Standard reports that Hong Kong Disneyland’s falling attendance levels may force a refinance:

“If these trends do not significantly improve,” Hong Kong Disneyland will not meet performance promises it made to bank lenders, Disney said in a filing with the US securities regulator.

Disney will then be forced to refinance the US$294 million (HK$2.29 million) in debt taken out for the park.

“The early going in Hong Kong has been more challenging than we had hoped,” Disney chief financial officer Tom Staggs told analysts gathered at Walt Disney World in Florida for the company’s 2007 investor conference.

“The decreases at Hong Kong Disneyland … were primarily due to lower attendance and guest spending,” the company said in its report.

If I only had enough frequent flier miles saved up, I’d gladly go spend a couple bucks there to help the cause.

Disney Pulls Orders, Chinese Factory Closes

2 Feb

DIS News reports: Hundreds protest after closure of factory that made Disney souvenirs in China.

[Vivian] Yau [spokeswoman of Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, a Hong Kong-based labor group] said Huangxing once employed more than 1,000 workers and used to make merchandise like key chains for the Walt Disney Co.

The Post quoted an unidentified worker who said that about 80 percent of the factory’s goods were once made for Disney. But Disney canceled all orders after the factory was accused of exploiting workers, the paper quoted the employee as saying.

Hong Kong Disneyland Sets Limits for Spring Festival

22 Jan

And it’s a good thing too . . . those of you who’ve been following HK Disneyland know they ran into plenty of trouble last year during the Lunar New Year, when mobs of unhappy guests stormed the gates, even throwing their children over the fences to get into the park.

HK Disneyland now sells tickets for specific dates, and is publishing the attendance limits for the Spring Festival. Shanghai Daily has the full story.

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