Wang Jianlin

Wanda’s chairman and theme park owner Wang Jianlin visits Shanghai Disneyland

China’s richest man in seeming peace mission months after vowing to destroy Disney in China

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 1:02am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 October, 2016, 1:02am

Wang Jianlin, who recently hired Hong Kong Disneyland’s former chief to help him build his own theme parks, took a tour of Disneyland in Shanghai, five months after he showed his public disdain for the global theme park giant.

Wang and his delegation visited the park in Shanghai on Wednesday.

“The visit to Shanghai Disneyland is both an observation and study,” said Wang, according to Wanda’s official website.

The visit came just a week after Wang met with Robert A Iger, president and CEO of Walt Disney Co, during a three-day road show in Los Angeles. Wang and Iger were shown in a photo shaking hands and smiling together.

The benign mood was in sharp contrast with just five months ago, when Wang vowed on China Central Television that he would make Disney’s China venture “unprofitable” in 10 to 20 years.

“Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck are already outdated. Its way of doing business is to clone its previous IP images. But how can a company have a future when it lacks innovation? Shanghai Disney Resort cannot make a profit in 20 years as long as Wanda survives,” Wang told state-run CCTV in May. He made similar comments later when he opened entertainment complexes in Nanchang and Hefei.

Last week Wanda poached the former managing director of Hong Kong’s Disneyland, Andrew Kam Man-ho, as vice president of its Wanda Cultural Industry Group unit.

Asked if these moves signal looming cooperation between the two giants, a Wanda official declined to comment, adding only: “Please keep following [the story].”