For China expats, time, money and location are important determining factors that often make it difficult to step out and enjoy their adopted city. In Nanjing, it is also little wonder that many might think the city is becoming one big shopping mall. Enter the theme park.
As Wanda’s new indoor theme park flung its doors recently and with plans underway for the opening of not one theme park, but three, by American amusement park giant Six Flags, in Nanjing by 2021, one wonders if these are Nanjing’s attempts at bringing some thrill to its entertainment sector?
“Although over the past few years entertainment in the city [Nanjing] has become a lot better than what it used to be”, says Amanda Brenna, Nanjing expat teacher of 6 years, talking with The Nanjinger. “Students don’t have money so they can’t go to the new fancy restaurants, teachers work on the weekends and the international school community lives too far away”.
While Nanjing does offer an increasing variety of past-time activities to its residents, whether it is enough to keep the southern capital competing against other cities in China is questionable.
Differentiate Nanjing from no-so-far-away Changzhou and Shanghai and one discovers that socio-economically (and geographically), Nanjing is smack-dab in the middle of the two. Changzhou is an example of what Nanjing used to be; slow-paced, relaxing, filled with green scenery and parks. Contrast this with Shanghai, that to where Nanjing is headed, buzzing with shoppers and filled with infinite opportunities to eat, buy and repeat.
Nanjing certainly is a large place what with its 8.3 million inhabitants, but its bread and butter remains Xinjiekou. Here one can find a mall on every corner, such as Deji Plaza and House of Fraser to name just two. With neon lights lighting up the shops and brand names littering the side of every building, there’s no shortage of shopping in this city.
For expats not been bitten by the China shopping bug and unimpressed with Nanjing’s many malls, the only alternatives it sometimes seems are several of the city’s infamous restaurants, bars, and nightclubs.
The new Wanda development is certainly a step in the right direction, but it is one that starts by being in the wrong place, at the last stop on Metro Line 2, Jingtian Lu, in far flung Qixia district. It’s way, way beyond even Nanjing International School.
The people behind the new amusement theme park therein, Belgium-based KCC Entertainment Design, describe themselves as, “Creators of exceptional themed environments”. According to the company’s newsletter of April, 2016, the “design of the park is integrally based on the rich culture, history and folklore of Nanjing…[a] combination of traditional elements with modern techniques such as virtual reality and 3D-mapping”.
Still it remains that a large swathe of entertainment in Nanjing is targeted toward twenty-somethings, what with its bars and nightclubs; they and unless one is a history buff, shoppers. Perhaps with the city’s future of indoor and outdoor theme parks underway, a whole new broadened demographic market can be entertained too.