Fun and festivity mark the first anniversary of Universal Beijing Resort on Tuesday. (WU YIBIN / FOR CHINA DAILY)
Universal Beijing Resort, a 40 billion yuan ($5.75 billion) joint venture between Chinese and US companies, celebrated its first anniversary on Tuesday, in the process showing the consumption power of the Chinese has not waned despite COVID-19, experts said.
"Over the past year, we have created amazing stories with our guests," said Joe Hoskin, executive vice-president and general manager of the resort, at a ceremony to mark the anniversary.
"Meanwhile, we've seen rising demand from Chinese consumers for high-quality and immersive entertainment experiences－just like the kind we create for our guests, which greatly increased our confidence in the future of UBR."
He attributed UBR's initial success to government support and consumer enthusiasm.
According to the resort, over 13.8 million guests watched more than 68,000 shows and performances, equivalent of 14,000 hours, since its grand opening on Sept 20 last year.
During the last 12 months, guests drank more than 1 million cups of Butterbeer, enjoyed 1 million Minion ice creams in Universal Studios Beijing theme park and over 100,000 hand-crafted milkshakes at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen at Universal CityWalk Beijing, according to data released by the resort.
Long lines outside popular restaurants and merchandise stores have become a common sight in the park. The resort launched over 3,400 merchandise items, bringing at least one new item on average every day after opening.
The resort has also experienced tough times during the year, like the nearly two-month suspension from May 1 due to the sudden COVID-19 resurgence in Beijing.
On June 25, when the resort reopened, guests in large numbers returned to the park, and were happy to don the costumes of their favorite characters in certain movies. Glad tidings like these boosted staff morale at the resort, besides restoring public confidence that cultural tourism will make a full recovery.
According to the city government, Beijing's GDP exceeded 4 trillion yuan for the first time in 2021, up 8.5 percent year-on-year. Per capita disposable income of residents increased by 8 percent in 2021.
With all this boosting investor confidence, Beijing is now aiming to transform itself into an influential and competitive global consumption center over the next five years, experts said.
The resort will grow into a new cultural tourism landmark of Beijing as it has started attracting guests from not only the city but other regions.
Bei Bei in her 20s, a fan of the theme park and The Transformers movie series, said she has formed a deep emotional connection with a character in the film franchise.
"A visit to the park always makes me happy," she said. "I spent many special days, including my birthday, Valentine's Day, the New Year's Day and the first snow day of last winter here in the park."
Universal Beijing officials said guests of all ages have had fun at the resort over the past year, with the oldest guests being two 96-year-old grandmas who visited the park during the resort's first Chinese Lunar New Year seasonal event.