Weekly insights into our crazy world.

Thursday, June 9, 2016



This week, the DUNER BLOG travels to the Far East, where a most unusual conflict has arisen. It began when five years ago. Disney Corp...fresh off the amazing success of mega-resorts in Tokyo and Hong Kong...began constructing their sixth theme park in Shanghai. However, the wealthiest man in China, Wang Jianlin, decided to spoil the party. For the last two years, his company has frantically built a rival amusement park nearby. WANDA CITY opened last week, stealing away the excitement and revenue away from Disney CEO Bob Iger...whose park opens next weekend.

Why is Wang so mad at Walt? The answer is simple. Jailin, like many people in mainland China, deeply resents international corporations making huge profits off Chinese citizens. Indeed, the nation has a long history of fending off commercial intrusions. 500 years ago, Portuguese traders were refused entry. 300 years ago, British companies were limited to coastal ports like Hong Kong. Today, greedy American billionaires are the biggest threat to tiny Chinese salaries. In response, the Wanda Corporation is urging locals to boycott foreign-owned Disneyland Shanghai: "Five years from today, it will be unprofitable" Wang boldly predicts.

Let's compare the two theme parks. First: Admission prices. Wanda City is 198 Yuan to Disneyland's 370 Yuan...nearly twice. Inside the gates of both parks, you'll find rides and attractions surrounding a fairy tale castle. Wanda City boasts three speedy roller coasters, an enormous aquarium and shopping malls galore. Many of the features in Wanda City are eerily similar to Disneyland. Take the Twirling Porcelain Teacups ride for example. Also many of the costumed characters...who roam the park for photo opportunities...look strikingly similar to Snow White and Star Wars Stormtroopers. Hmmm..

How is Disney taking all this? Angrily, that's how! "We vigorously protect our intellectual property" quipped a spokesman, noting the company "will take action to address infringement." Legal actions in the People's Republic are difficult to pursue, but a local law firm has been hired. And attorney Wang Yingyu sees "more than a passing similarity between costumes." In response, Wang Jailin explained that some contracted stores did indeed have Snow White costumes. But nothing officially affiliated with Wanda Land had anything Disney on display.

As much as everyone cherishes their childhood memories of riding on Space Mountain or watching Donald Duck cartoons, it is important to put these in perspective. While Disney does a great job building theme parks and making movies, they did not independently conceive all of their products. Walt didn't invent Aladdin...it's an Arab folk tale. The Jungle Book, their current hit movie, is a book written by Rudyard Kipling. Sleeping Beauty's Castle...the Disney top icon of them all...borrows heavily from Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. So let's cut Wanda City some slack. With 20 million people, Shanghai is big enough for two theme parks!

1 comment:

  1. Duner,

    I think you have forgotten that your blog is censored in the PRC. The government there is afraid to let the Chinese people read what foreigners write. So you don't need to suck up so much - no one in China is going to read this.

    Stealing off intellectual property is not clever. How would you feel if someone on Baidu was republishing your blog in their name?

    Greg in Macau