By the end of this year, with the opening of its new Marine Science Park, plus a hotel and a new circus theater, Chimelong will be super-sized.
And it still has a long way to go.
GRACE GENG (text) Changlong Group (photos)
Zhuhai Chimelong International Ocean Tourist Resort, the large-scale themed resort on the southern coast of Hengqin island, is gearing up to launch three new projects worth more than RMB10bn this year. These additions are expected to take it shooting up the world rankings of integrated resorts and clear at the top of China’s most outstanding tourist attractions.
Chimelong Marine Science Park, which will become the world’s largest indoor space devoted to promoting marine science, will be the new star attraction. It will open together with a new hotel, which offers more than 1,200 rooms, shortly before the end of the year. They will be preceded by a 6,500- seat theater, expected to open this summer, which will bring in internationally renowned circus shows.
Chimelong is building on strong momentum. After five years of operation, the resort managed to attract more than 10 million visitors last year. Its next phase of development will add to existing facilities to make it China’s largest integrated resort, comprising two world-class theme parks, five themed hotels, and an original themed circus show, performing nightly.
But the entire project is still only in its early stages of growth, with five phases planned altogether. By the time it is done, annual tourist arrivals in Hengqin are expected to exceed 50 million. A large percentage of these are expected to be global tourists, which will help build Hengqin into an “international leisure tourism island” as envisaged under the Greater Bay Area regional masterplan.
As the world’s largest marine theme park, Zhuhai Chimelong Ocean Kingdom is proud to hold seven world records, perhaps most famous of which is being first in the world to combine an exhibition area of rare animals with large-scale amusement rides. According to authoritative data from the Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), Zhuhai Chimelong Ocean Kingdom stayed firmly in the list of global top 20 theme parks last year.
The new Marine Science Park and its adjoining hotel are expected to add to the trophy cabinet when they open toward the end of the year. Together, their design resembles a high-tech “flagship” sailing eastward. With total floor area of 500,000m2, standing at 20-storeys high, the indoor park has four key zones: an exhibition of rare marine plants and animals, a popular-science educational area devoted to environmental protection, a large performing arts space, and a collection of interactive recreational facilities. It is expected to be the world’s largest indoor theme park devoted to promoting marine science when it opens.
The Marine Science Hotel, designed in eco-friendly style with cutting-edge technology, will offer 1,250 guest rooms under six special themes in a 29-storey tower. Once it opens, the total number of rooms available at Chimelong will be 6,000, including those at the Hengqin Bay Hotel, Penguin Hotel, Circus Hotel and Ying Hai Hotel and Apartments.
The new 6,500-seat theater, meanwhile, will be the biggest of the three large-scale theaters operated by the Chimelong Group, which also operates a large-scale integrated resort in Panyu.
Its two-level seating arrangement and breakthrough 270° water-surrounded stage are expected to offer super-enriched stage effects that provide audiences with an energized sensory experience. It will open in the summer with an original themed circus show and will host the sixth China International Circus Festival later in the year.
Much of the impetus for the success of the new stage of development at Chimelong will come from the opening at the end of the year of a new Intercity Railway Line connecting Hengqin with downtown Zhuhai. The end of this line is the Hengqin Chimelong Railway Station, which will connect directly to the resort. The line will be extended later to connect Hengqin wirth the Zhuhai International Airport.
Once the line is open, it is expected that tourist arrivals to Hengqin will increase rapidly as Hengqin Port becomes the primary gateway to the integrated resorts in Cotai, shifting out from the currently congested Gongbei border crossing.