'I'm a little disappointed that this cannot be built in Hong Kong': Comics 'godfather' Tony Wong Yuk-long to build HK$800 million theme park - in Hangzhou, Zhejiang
Hong Kong comics "godfather" Tony Wong Yuk-long is turning his creative dreams into reality with a HK$800 million theme park that he calls a "boutique version" of a crossover between Universal Studios and Disneyland.
But this new tourist attraction based on the city's strong cultural heritage of comics is not in Hong Kong - it will be built in Hangzhou, Zhejiang.
"I'm a little disappointed that this cannot be built in Hong Kong. Land in Hong Kong is an issue," said the author behind Tiger Wong and classic titles like Dragon and Tiger Heroes. He made his debut aged 13 and recently celebrated his 50th anniversary in the comics industry.
Speaking to the media after signing contracts with Hangzhou government representatives, Wong said the theme park was expected to occupy over 11,000 square metres - more than half of the size of Victoria Park - in Qiandao Lake, a tourist destination in the west of Hangzhou. Wong said it had taken him nearly five years to identify the location.
According to the latest blue book report on China's animation and comics sector, the industry ranks high on the national agenda in developing cultural and creative industries. It projected that China's animation and comics industry was growing at 30 per cent a year and would be worth 20 billion yuan (HK$24 billion) by 2020, making the country a world power in the sector.
Wong said the theme park would ride this trend and he had chosen Hangzhou because the city was the fortress of China's animation and comics industry.
It would feature well-known titles from not just Hong Kong but mainland China, Taiwan and Japan, said Wong. There would be three sectors - animation and comics, film classics and amusement park rides.
"We will turn scenes from comics and films into reality. But I'm not giving away too many details because people will copy me."
Wong said he had contributed half of the HK$800 million investment but refused to disclose the other investors. He also declined to comment if the city government of Hangzhou had invested or given him the land.
"The government of Hangzhou gave me a lot of support. That's all I can say," he said.
Construction begins next year and is scheduled to finish in 2018. Wong expected 1.5 million to two million visitors a year. With tickets at 200 to 300 yuan, he projected revenue of 300 million to 400 million yuan in the first year.
He planned to organise package tours offering discounts for Hongkongers.
"This theme park has commercial and cultural value. I hope it will succeed in Hangzhou and I can negotiate with the Hong Kong government to bring a version of it back to Hong Kong in future," Wong said.