2016 has seen theme park industry in China grow in leaps and bounds, with Disneyland launching an outlet in Shanghai, and domestic brands such as Happy Valley and Fantawild Adventure expanding across into new regions.
According to the 2016 report on Chinese theme parks, of the 2,700 theme parks in the country, only 10% are reportedly making profits. 70% are said to be in the red, with the rest at break-even point.
Dai Bin, president of China Tourism Academy, says most indigenous Chinese theme parks are unable to meet public demand in design, operation, and maintenance, and are in particular lacking cultural creativity.
"Theme parks in the past were no more than a landscape show. Now they have become amusement parks as the second generation, which still don't have an attractive theme and a story or logic thread to link up all elements. Theme parks don't mean you display a dinosaur statue or a Ultraman. They should be alive and interactive with visitors. People come to pursue inner values and feelings," said Dai.
Industry experts observe that many theme parks mainly rely on ticket sales for their profit, providing a flimsy business, and leaving little left over to invest in new recreational facilities to attract repeat visitors.
Dai Bin said many parks opened are used simply to attract prospective investors to local property developments. The parks soon stop operating once the surrounding land begins to make a profit. By then, the theme parks have done their job.
Business insiders have called for the authorities to stop granting licenses for new parks for the sake of the industry.
The theme park report says 64 new parks were expected to be established between 2015 to 2020, with a total investment of about 24 billion U.S. dollars.