Universal Beijing Resort proves a hit with visitors

By Mitchell Blatt
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, September 25, 2021
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Tourists experience "Decepticoaster" rollercoaster at the Universal Beijing Resort. [Photo/VCG]

The Universal Beijing Resort, the world's largest Universal Studios theme park and resort, officially opened in Beijing just in time for the Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day holidays. 

After a soft opening preview in early September, people from across China are excited to become a wizard for a day in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, walk with dinosaurs in Jurassic World Isla Nublar, and see their favorite characters and shows. The response to the soft opening has been enthusiastic.

The video-sharing app Xiaohongshu, also known as Little Red Book, has been blowing up with videos of visitors sharing their experiences at the park. One user recommended the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride, calling it "a different kind of experience." Another said that the Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness was "full of Chinese flavor." It is the first Kung Fu Panda-themed land to appear at any Universal Studios anywhere in the world.

Starting Sept. 20, anyone can purchase tickets. Excitement was evident on Ctrip, China's largest online travel agency, where web traffic for nearby hotels and transportation options increased by 800%. Tickets for the opening day reportedly sold out in half an hour. It seems like it is having a positive impact on increasing tourism after the shock brought about by the coronavirus.

Besides the theme park and its more than 30 rides, the resort itself also comprises two hotels and the Universal CityWalk Beijing mall, which has been described as a standalone "destination in its own right." CityWalk brings an IMAX Laser theater and many new restaurants and brands to Beijing, including the largest Peet's Coffee in the world.

I have to admit I am not a big Harry Potter fan. I love roller coasters and rides, but meeting an employee in a character suit doesn't do much for me. I would rather go to a fairground. That's just me. I see many people of all ages posting pics of their visits to the Universal Beijing Resort on Instagram, so I guess there are many who do still love it.

I remember visiting the Universal park in Orlando when I was young. It was new and exciting at the time, having just opened in 1990, but much different. Back then there was no Harry Potter, no Minions, and no Transformers. In short, almost none of the main themes of the new Beijing resort. 

Perhaps most revealing, at that time there were no Universal resorts outside of the United States. It was only in 2001 that the first park opened in Asia – Universal Studios Japan. That shows just how much the world has changed since then. 

The United States is no longer the beacon of the world – neither ideologically, nor economically. For Universal, China is also the biggest market for its films. "Bumblebee," the latest iteration of the "Transformers" franchise, which takes place in America, made 73% of its revenue outside of the U.S. 

Taking the interest in the park and the movies into account, the Global Times published an article stating that the success of the park "def[ies] 'anti-U.S.' stereotype of China painted by Western media." Chinese people are still open to American businesses, American pop culture, and movies imbued with American (or British) themes and storylines that don't try to impose their will on China.

Foreigners living in China are also quite excited about visiting the Universal Beijing Resort. It is easy to get to, with a dedicated subway station now open at the resort on Line 7 and the Batong line. Located in Tongzhou district, to the east of the city center, the resort is about half an hour from the Forbidden City by taxi.

What do you think? Are you planning on seeing what people are so excited about next time you visit Beijing?

Mitchell Blatt is a columnist with China.org.cn. For more information please visit:


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