Disney to sue as Snow White appears in China theme park

Performers dressed as Snow White and Captain America were seen in the new Wanda City theme park in Nanchang, China, over the weekend.
Performers dressed as Snow White and Captain America were seen in the new Wanda City theme park in Nanchang, China, over the weekend.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SHANGHAI • Walt Disney Co said it is prepared to take action to protect its intellectual property rights after performers dressed as Snow White and Captain America, as well as stuffed animals that resembled those in Kung Fu Panda, were featured at Dalian Wanda Group's new theme park in China.

"We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement," the company said in an e-mail statement yesterday in response to Bloomberg News queries about the characters, which resembled the Disney ones and were on display at a Wanda theme park over the weekend.

"Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more."

Billionaire Wang Jianlin last Saturday officially opened the Wanda City park in Nanchang, the first of his conglomerate's 15 planned theme-park and entertainment projects in China that it hopes will help it unseat Disney as the world's largest tourism operator.

Just over a week ago, Mr Wang publicly challenged the Burbank, California company, saying that Disney's "one tiger is no match for a pack of wolves".

"The non-Wanda characters were operated by individual stores within Wanda Mall. They do not represent Wanda," Wanda said in an earlier statement.

The Wanda Cultural Tourism City, spanning 2 sq km in south-eastern Jiangxi province, features a theme park, movie park, aquarium, hotels and retail stores, according to the company.

Wanda said it expects the complex to attract 10 million people a year.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2016, with the headline 'Disney to sue as Snow White appears in China theme park'. Print Edition | Subscribe