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A Chinese Fighter Jet Company Is Spending Billions to Beat Disney Theme Parks

Aug 22, 2014 2:30 am

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Local knowledge and lots of money goes a long way. But so does experience running theme parks and owning thousands of iconic characters and narratives.

— Jason Clampet

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Disney Parks

Promotional image for Disney Shanghai. Disney Parks


Aviation Industry Corp. of China, the state-owned fighter-jet maker, plans to spend as much as 120 billion yuan ($20 billion) to build aerospace-themed amusement parks as it seeks to woo Chinese looking for leisure activities.

The company, referred to as AVIC, plans to build five or six theme parks, with the first one scheduled to open by 2017, the Beijing-based planemaker said in an e-mailed statement. It’s in talks to build the parks at locations including in Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shaanxi and Sichuan, AVIC said.

China’s leaders are seeking to spur a shift toward a consumption-driven economy in a country where the World Bank estimates household consumption expenditure accounted for 35 percent of the gross domestic product in 2012, compared with 69 percent in the U.S. Walt Disney Co. plans to open a $5.5 billion theme park in Shanghai by end 2015 encouraged by the outlook for tourism and travel in the world’s most-populous nation.

“There will be a big market for leisure activities and AVIC can’t be left out as new leisure products emerge and aviation becomes a way of life for many,” Lin Zuoming, who heads AVIC, said in the statement.

The parks, each of which will be spread across 33.3 hectares, will include an aviation museum, aviation technology exhibitions, aircraft design incubators, flight simulators and aviation-themed hotels offering meals served on flights as well as those consumed by fighter pilots, according to the company.

To contact the reporter on this story: Clement Tan in Hong Kong at ctan297@bloomberg.net. To contact the editors responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at anandk@bloomberg.net. 

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