International and domestic venues sharpen their competitive edges
Zhang Fan, a digital art designer in his 30s, was excited when Universal Studios Beijing opened in September, being a longtime fan of Happy Valley, another theme park in the Chinese capital.
"I love going to Universal Studios, which has strong movie themes and modern technologies," he said.
Last year, Happy Valley reduced its admission prices and launched a series of promotions. Zhang bought an annual pass for the venue, which cost 399 yuan ($62), and frequently visited the park for fun and relaxation. However, the price of this pass has since risen to 499 yuan, while a single entry ticket costs 299 yuan.
In comparison, Universal Studios Beijing offers different types of tickets－priced from 418 yuan to 748 yuan, according to the date of admission. Prices also change on weekends and during major holidays. To allow visitors more time for a trip, last month, the venue started providing tickets for one-and-a-half days.
Zhang visited the park in October－one month after its official opening.
"I used to work in the movie industry. Many of the features at this park are spectacular, and it is well worth a visit. However, as an ordinary consumer living in Beijing, I prefer to visit Happy Valley more frequently as a leisure destination," he said.
According to local media reports, attendances at Happy Valley have been little affected by the launch of the Universal Studios park.
During the three-day Mid-Autumn Festival holiday in September, when its rival opened, Happy Valley's visitor numbers and overall revenue reached record highs compared with previous years.
Li Wei, deputy head of Happy Valley, told the Jiemian news website that the number of visitors rose by 80 percent year-on-year on Sept 21, the day after Universal Studios Beijing opened. Revenue at Happy Valley was up by 260 percent year-on-year that day.
Although strict measures have been taken in Beijing to control COVID-19, they have failed to dent enthusiasm for visiting the Universal Studios park.
Tickets sold out before the opening, while the resort's two hotels were fully booked. Room rates at some 50 hotels outside the resort rose by 3.5 times.
The new venue has clearly fueled interest in the domestic theme park industry.
Song Yu, chairman of Beijing Tourism Group, one of the main investors in the new park, said Chinese are no longer satisfied to merely check out scenic spots for tourism products and services－they want a deeper experience.
Theme parks can meet their needs by creating a fantasy world for them to escape real life. More important, visitors are happy to pay for this experience, Song said.