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Wanda Theme Park in China Opens to Controversy as Disney Characters Spotted

Image: Wanda Theme Park in China Opens to Controversy as Disney Characters Spotted
A Chinese woman poses for a smartphone photo with a worker dressed in a storm trooper costume at the Wanda Mall at the Wanda Cultural Tourism City in Nanchang in southeastern China's Jiangxi province, Saturday, May 28, 2016. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

By    |   Tuesday, 31 May 2016 02:48 PM

The Wanda theme park that opened in Nanchang, China, on Saturday could already be in trouble after costumed versions of Disney characters appeared there over the weekend.

Fortune reported that Wang Jianlin, the founder of the Dalian Wanda Group, called the $3.5 billion theme park "a Disneyland killer," likely referring to the new Shanghai Disneyland theme park scheduled to open eight hours away on June 16.

Fortune stated that the theme park includes three roller coasters, an indoor movie theme park, aquarium, resort hotels, and a Wanda shopping mall. It was near the mall that costumed characters Captain America, Snow White, and a "Star Wars" stromtrooper were spotted.

"There's more than a passing similarity between the costumes seen at Wanda's park and designs registered by Disney," Wang Yingyu, of Singapore-based Via Law Corp., said, according to Bloomberg.

"Legally, the bottom line is that the owner of a space is responsible for infringement that has occurred, unless they argue that they cannot exercise control over their tenants -- which would require thorough proof that they have done all they can to control the situation," the Via Law statement continued.

Wang Jianlin and Jack Ma, founder of the Alibaba Group, are considered two of the richest men in China, noted Bloomberg. Fortune wrote that the local governments around the theme park have invested in the potential success, building new apartments and roads as part of its development plan.

"Wanda is betting hugely on theme parks as a means of corporate diversification and of driving business to its malls and entertainment properties," reported Variety. "It already has massive parks in Xinshuangbanna [opened in 2015] and what it billed as the world's first indoor theme park in Wuhan [opened in late 2014]."

Disney said in a statement to Bloomberg on Monday that Wanda will need to cleanse itself of the trademarked characters.

"We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement," Disney told Bloomberg in an email. "Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more."

Wanda told Bloomberg Sunday in a statement that any "non-Wanda characters" came from individual stores and "do not represent Wanda."

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The Wanda theme park that opened in Nanchang, China, on Saturday could already be in trouble after costumed versions of Disney characters appeared there over the weekend.
wanda, theme park, disney
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2016-48-31
Tuesday, 31 May 2016 02:48 PM
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