Wanda poaches former Disneyland MD to run theme parks

The theme park battle between Walt Disney and Chinese real estate giant Wanda Group is set to intensify as Wanda has hired former Disney executive Andrew Kam (金民豪) to a senior position in its expanding theme park division.

Kam was previously managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland between 2007 and 2016. He resigned citing personal reasons in March this year.

As the vice president of Wanda’s cultural industry group, he will be in charge of the overall operation of all Wanda theme parks and Wanda city projects, which is an integrated entertainment center of theme parks, hotels, theaters, shopping malls and residential apartments, according to the report.

Disney opened its Shanghai Disney resort in June this year and was greeted by stinging criticism from Wanda chairman Wang Jianlin.

On the eve of the Shanghai Disneyland opening, in a CCTV interview, Wang suggested that “a tiger has no chance of beating a pack of wolves.” He also criticised the high entry price of the theme park and its location as subject to inclement seasonal weather.

Wanda opened the first Wanda city project in May in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, and four months later the second opened in Hefei, Anhui province, marking the start of Wanda's ambitious plan to build 15 such projects across the country by 2020.

The company said more than 1,700,000 people visited the two projects during the weeklong National Day Holiday.