Hello Kitty theme park planned just outside Shanghai

Hello Kitty theme park planned just outside Shanghai

Shanghai has seen a rash of theme park construction this year: Disney broke ground, World of Joyland opened and now Hello Kitty announces plans for a park in Anji, Zhejiang Province
Hello kitty china theme park - wen
China's Premier Wen Jiabao had a quiet moment alone with Hello Kitty last year. Come 2014 he can visit her new Anji home any time he wants.

Right now, Anji is best known as the set of “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon” and for its expansive bamboo forests. But not for long.

Refusing to be shown up by Disney and its plans for a Shanghai theme park, Sanrio Co., the Japanese maker of the Hello Kitty character and all the swag that goes with it, has announced that it has partnered with a Chinese company, Zhejiang Yinrun Leisure Development, to open a Hello Kitty theme park in Anji, Zhejiang Province, just a few hours' drive from Shanghai.

The 95,000-square-meter Hello Kitty theme park, according to the Sanrio press release, is due to open in 2014. The investment for the park is estimated at US$215 million, approximately RMB 1.5 billion, but still smaller than Disney’s projected RMB 24.5 billion budget for its Shanghai park.

There are currently two Hello Kitty theme parks in Japan; this will be the first international park.

"The potential for growth is in Asia," said Hideo Yamaguchi, a Sanrio spokesman. "This agreement means a lot for Sanrio, as it will broaden our licensing business."

Tokyo-based Sanrio is looking to capitalize on the same market that brought Disney to Shanghai. Both companies aim, according to spokesmen, to attract the increasingly affluent Chinese on China’s east coast to spend on rides and souvenirs.

If all goes according to plan, construction should begin next July.

Since her 1974 debut, Hello Kitty has spawned a massive global industry with sales of more than 50,000 Hello Kitty products in 70 nations, including dolls, clothes, accessories and homeware.

A borough-bred Manhattanite, editor and writer Jessica Beaton lived in Shanghai for five years and has now moved to Hong Kong.

Read more about Jessica Beaton
CNN Partner Hotels

Destination Berlin

World War II bunker and former margarine factory among cutting edge venues in ever-changing city