As China's richest man criticises its presence in the nation...
Walt Disney is gearing up to do legal battle with a newly-opened theme park in China.
The entertainment company is looking to protect its intellectual property rights after it came to light that performers at Dalian Wanda's theme park were dressed as Captain America and Snow White over the weekend. The park also has stuffed animals that apparently bear a resemble to Kung Fu Panda.
Disney said in a statement today:
"We vigorously protect our intellectual property and will take action to address infringement.
"Our characters and stories have delighted generations, these illegal and substandard imitations unfortunately disappoint all who expect more".
The 200-hectare "Wanda City" park threw open its doors over the weekend in the city of Nanchang in the south-east of China. It aims to welcome 10 million visitors annually.
Wanda City is the first of 15 planned theme parks that billionaire Wang Jianlin – China's wealthiest man – is set to operate in the country in an ambitious bid to replace Disney as the world's largest tourism company.
Plans are apparently afoot for five resorts outside of China, with a theme park near London potentially on the cards.
Dalian Wanda have responded to Disney's challenge with the statement:
"The non-Wanda characters were operated by individual stores within Wanda Mall. They do not represent Wanda".
Speaking on China Central Television prior to Wanda City's opening, Jianlin took specific aim at the Californian company.
"Disney really shouldn't have entered the mainland. We will make Disney's China venture unprofitable in the next 10 to 20 years...
"The frenzy of Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck and the era of blindly following them have passed.
"[Disney is] entirely cloning previous IP, cloning previous products, with no more innovation".
Disney will open its first mainland China resort in Shanghai next month.