The Amusement Park In China That’s A Total Disney Ripoff

by SharonKurheg

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. But when a theme park in China has obvious copies of a WHOLE LOT of Disney parks, I’d say it goes way beyond flattery and more into copyright infringement.

Joe and I went to the now-defunct Nara Dreamland, in Japan, in April 2005 (some of our photos are here (about halfway down the post) and we’ve got some awesome video footage here). The designers of that park, what had been built in the early 1960s, had obviously taken a few pages from the Disneyland handbook, with areas and attractions that looked very much like Main Street, Sleeping Beauty Castle, the Monorail, Jungle Cruise, etc. But Shijingshan Amusement Park, which opened in 1986 in Beijing, had taken things one (or maybe more than one) step further. Take a look at these photos:

There’s even some video of this park here and there….

This one is from a Japanese TV broadcast (it’s in Japanese but I think you can get a good feel of what they’re talking about):

But wait, it gets better! Until 2007, the park’s motto actually was, Disney is Too Far, Please Come to Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park.

Right around that time, international copyright infringement controversies began (it’s interesting to note that Disney didn’t sue – according to this article from 2007, they sort of let human nature take its course LOL), and in the early 2010s, the park was updated to remove much (but not all) of the Disneyfication. So there’s that. Click here to see more story and pictures from when they were in the midst of those updates.

So it’s significantly less “Disneyfied” than it used to be. But for about 20 years or so…

But is it a park I’d want to go to? Welllllll, we actually kind of enjoyed our trip to Nara Dreamland, simply because it was so awful that it was funny. I think the same thing would go for Shijingshan Amusement Park. But that’s us. As always, Your Mileage May Vary.

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calculusfanatic January 10, 2018 - 2:40 am

Well, that’s what they do anyway. From Apple iPhones to Hermes Brikin bags, you’ll find a rip-off for almost everything in China. And nothing substantial is actually being done to curb this rampant infringement of copyrights. Gotta say that international inaction has benefitted China the most.

SharonKurheg January 10, 2018 - 11:15 am

Can’t say I disagree. Although it happens everywhere, from nursery schools who paint Disney characters on their walls to Nara Dreamland in Japan (take a look at the links we included in the China article. That place was a TRIP…LOLOL!)

Tom November 17, 2020 - 10:09 am

I visited there from the US with my kids 5 years ago. Lots of fun! Some of the rides were in various stages of disrepair and disassembly, but the ride that were operating were absolutely thrilling, since unlike amusement parks in some parts of the world, you knew the risks were REAL! In fact, in one area of the park there were sign boards with graphic photos of accidents that had occurred at other amusement parks. (Not sure whether those were meant to encourage guests to stay safe or brag about a better safety record at Shijingshan.) The employees were super friendly and–through hand signs and motions-they instructed us on how to stay safe, such as by bracing a leg against the missing door of a spinning teacup so kids wouldn’t be flung out. 🙂 At the base of the mini Epcot golf ball, we especially enjoyed riding “American Adventure”, which naturally is a shoot-em-up style ride similar to Buzz Lightyear in Florida. All in all, I would highly recommend a visit!

Jaci November 18, 2020 - 12:36 pm

You should really do some more research before claiming Nara Dreamland is a copy of Disney in any way. The story is a lot more complex than that and it’s a bit insulting to this man’s dream by saying he copied anything without permission. I used to think so too, as most often one would when just glancing at the now long gone park, but once you look into it you reveal a sad story. In essence the man wanted to build a legitimate disney theme park but Walt didn’t like the idea at first of taking his park over to the orient until the man’s persistence and passion made him think maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. Basically in the end Nara was built as a tester project to show Disney how well this could work out but when the time came to ask for licensing for characters and names Disney suddenly flat out refused, revealing he never had any intention of doing so. With so much money spent and rides already up the man decided he would create his own theme park and thus Nara was born and it was super popular at first because at the time there was no Disney in Japan. Then Toko Disneyland and DisneySea opened followed with Universal Japan and it was goodbye to Nara. Slowly but surely it rotted away and was vandalized then became a place for urban explorers who would cheekily say “Exploring the Japanese Disney knockoff” without knowing any better. It’s ironic it became more popular after it was closed down. This is a depressing story of what could have been, and now an empty plot stands where one mans dream used to be.

SharonKurheg November 19, 2020 - 11:58 am

If you could provide me with some URLs that back up what you’re saying, I would be happy to include them. Thank-you.

Carol August 19, 2021 - 12:00 pm

Why not? China owns 57% of Disney. Look it up. Get with the program folks.

SharonKurheg August 19, 2021 - 3:42 pm

China owns a certain percent of Shanghai Disneyland, just as Oriental Land Co. owns a majority share of Tokyo Disneyland. Those were the deals that were made for the Walt Disney Company to have permission to build their parks there.

The Walt Disney Company, however, is not owned by China. Their biggest shareholders are not Chinese.


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