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Universal Beijing Resort to transform market

(China Daily Global)|Updated : 2020-11-17

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The cast of Kung Fu Panda perform at a preview event in October in Beijing. [Photo/CHINA DAILY]

Spring opening planned in capital's eastern district, with construction involving 100,000 workers, 500 designers and artists

Visitors to the planned Universal Beijing Resort-currently under construction and scheduled to open in May next year-will be able to see the world's first dedicated Transformers franchise attraction featuring an expanded storyline and an art background highlighted with Chinese cultural and historical elements.

The site-Transformers Metro-base-involves an over 750-million-year-old Titan on a mission to find Energon on Earth as he forms an alliance with Earthlings at N.E.S.T.Beijing.

In the new story, visitors to the resort in eastern Beijing's Tongzhou district will be able to become N.E.S.T. Beijing Agents, wear gear, eat and drink Cybertronian offerings and partner up to "save" the world.

Sabrina Han, creative coordinator for the Transformers Metrobase of UBR, said international designers of the resort have carefully studied Chinese culture, such as flying fairies, armillary spheres and water ink paintings, while skillfully integrating the collective inspiration by working closely with local counterparts during the design process to bridge multicultural dialogue.

"We need to tell a famous Western or even alien story of Transformers in a Chinese context, which means we need to think about how we tell the story in a way that Chinese guests will understand and prefer," Han said.

In storytelling techniques, how to add Chinese humor, pop culture and Chinese creative thinking mindset elements, and not merely injecting Chinese style show set designs into the equation, matter even more.

"The script is replete with lots of Chinese humor the characters will need to deliver," she added.

"This is a story of designers of different cultures who are thinking and working together to collaborate, impact and co-create," said John Gentile, senior director and executive producer of UBR.

Universal Beijing Resort recently released details on multiple entertainment experiences available for guests, including a few iconic landmarks, rides and shows, in the seven themed areas. The seven lands are Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness, Transformers Metrobase, Minion Land, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Jurassic World Isla Nublar, Hollywood and Waterworld.

Tom Mehrmann, president and general manager of UBR, said the resort is on schedule to greet the general public during the planned soft opening in spring 2021, equipped with digitally advanced technologies to help check temperatures with contactless equipment and other safety measures in place. The ultimate objective is to create a blockbuster-sized fun experience for guests in China.

"We and our local partners, including Beijing Tourism Group, are creating one of the most magnificent theme park destinations ever built-right here in Beijing," said Mehrmann. "It is the fruit of co-creation, merging Universal's decades of global theme park experience with our partner's deep insights on China."

Universal Beijing Resort is developed, constructed and operated by Beijing International Resort Co Ltd, a joint venture 70-percent owned by Beijing Shouhuan Cultural Tourism Investment Co Ltd, and 30-percent owned by Universal Parks& Resorts, a business unit of Comcast NBCUniversal.

Mehrmann said the preparations-a global effort-have allowed them to keep construction on schedule. "We are feeling very confident that we will be opening in 2021," he said. "Everything is on a very good path."

Featuring the Universal Studios Beijing theme park, Universal City-Walk Beijing and two hotels, the resort involves over 100,000 workers, more than 500 designers and artists and in excess of 500 suppliers and partners.

The resort is digitally advanced and innovative and the technology allowing engagement with visitors is evolving, he said. In addition to being one of the most advanced 5G-enabled resorts across the country, Universal Beijing Resort has been working with Alibaba and Tencent-two leading providers of internet ecosystems-to harness advanced technology from different channels and platforms.

One of the unique features is facial recognition technology, which could become even more important in the age of a contactless entry experience, enabling guests to preregister. Other technology will also be implemented to count the number of visitors to manage capacity.

Technology is also available to send messages to guests' mobile phones to inform of wait times for various attractions to better distribute foot traffic. Visitors can also create their own itinerary based on the time they have and the experiences they wish to enjoy.

"We can create a safe and hygienic environment by using technology and applying it to the park," Mehrmann said. "These things will let us continue to be agile and responsive to guest needs, which is going to be key. Our goal is to put in agile and evolving software that evolves with the guest and with technology advances in the country."

He added: "With the development of technology and the booming domestic tourism market that in the past Golden Week saw 637 million visits around China in eight days, we believe our park is coming at a very good time and we feel confident in the future."

Domestic tourism revenue during the recently concluded extended Golden Week holiday reached 467 billion yuan ($70.6 billion), a recovery of 69.9 percent year-on-year. According to the China Tourism Academy, domestic tourism consumption confidence has greatly recovered and development potential has been fully unleashed, due to better control of the epidemic.