China’s unlicensed knock-off of Disneyland

shijingshan.jpg

It’s the Crappiest Place on Earth!

It’s one thing to bootleg a DVD of Pirates of the Caribbean, but it’s quite another to rip off an entire theme park! While copyright piracy is a major concern in trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, Beijing’s Shijingshan Amusement Park has gone ahead a built an imitation Disneyland right down to the costumed characters who look awfully – and I mean awfully – familiar.

An article about the park in China’s business newspaper, The Standard, quotes a Chinese consumer who asks: “I don’t understand why that is such a big problem. Shouldn’t others be able to use those characters besides [Disney]?”

The article also describes Beijing as being a place where “one can spend a morning at an imitation Disney amusement park, have lunch at a KFC knock-off, shop for fake foreign-brand fashions in the afternoon and relax at night with a DVD of a Hollywood film that is still in the theaters in the United States.”

Japan’s Doraemon and Hello Kitty are also swiped. Here’s a TV news report where a park executive claims their Mickey Mouse is simply a “cat with a big ear”.

More photos and video about this park can be found on JapanProbe.com.

(Thanks, Steve Worth)


  • Inkan1969

    China just wouldn’t be China without bootlegging. :-)

  • http://salmon-leap.blogspot.com/ Daniel

    Well, this is pretty lame, and its scale is actually somewhat amusing, but one thing that gets me is,

    If Disney’s lobbyists hadn’t paid the US congress so much money to extend copyrights to damn near infinity (which, in my mind, amounts to no less than bribery en masse) then older Disney characters like Mickey Mouse would actually be in the public domain by now, and should.

    So to me the issue isn’t quite black and white when it comes to old Disney characters, not to mention most of the feature film characters were just lifted from older stories that had entered public domain. Pinnochio was released the very month the story entered public domain.

  • Bugsmer

    Thanks for posting link to a translated copy of this video. I hadn’t known that it had been around for 22 years! That’s a long time for somebody to notice what has been going on there. It’ll be interesting to see if anything is done about it.

  • http://gagaman.blogspot.com GagaMan

    Hahaha, that’s made my day! The slogan “Disneyland is too far away” just clinches the deal! If you check out some of the other videos, you will also see knock offs of Bugs Bunny and Shrek!

  • http://quocmachinery.livejournal.com David McHank

    the place’s website address says it all
    http://www.bs-amusement-park.com/

  • http://inklingstudio.typepad.com David

    The park manager saying : “no, this is not Mickey Mouse, it is a cat with big ears” was hilarious ! I guess he took a cue from certain early 30′s characters like Foxy. “(It’s not Mickey Mouse, it’s a fox , just look at those pointy ears”.)

    http://www.vitaphone.org/foxy4.jpg

  • http://pediatristsplayground.blogspot.com Kevin W. Martinez a.k.a. Leviathan

    The folks in China certainly outdid themselves with this elaborate, but substandard, plagarism of the parks. Must’ve taken years to build, too. The plagarized Shrek and Hello Kitty are the nadir, though.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWNRIvnbtGk Hasdrubal

    Sure it’s a rip off, but doesn’t Disney appropriate other people’s work as well? Watch the old Popeye cartoon of Aladdin and the Disney movie some time. Uncle Walt’s little minions more or less copied the character design of Popeye’s villain to make their villain character Jafar. Franky the Disney villain isn’t as much fun to watch. It’s easy to say it’s alright to borrow from the Popeye version of Aladdin because the copyright was allowed to lapse into public domain, but is the Millenium Copyright Act which protects Disney’s rights to virtually forever, a just law? Their older intellectual property should have been allowed to lapse……forcing them to make new quality cartoons.

    I can’t get too upset over the commies ripping off Disney’s old stuff. Disney has allowed itself to become a stagnant and repetitive product through strong arm congressional and presidential lobbying. You have to hand it to the Chinese for liking stagnant and repetitive culture.

  • http://classiccartoons.blogspot.com/ Duck Dodgers

    This is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen!!!
    Why they don’t sell “Barmani” jeans and “La Costeau” shirts in that park is beyond me……..

  • http://www.cartoonbrew.com Bryan

    This is more pathetic than those imitation pinatas in SoCal.

    http://www.cartoonbrew.com/old-brew/perhaps-they-could-make-animation-exec-pinatas

    Also I could be very wrong but that seemed more like a Japanese report about China.

  • http://ryuuseipro.deviantart.com John Paul Cassidy

    Needless to say, China is somewhat involved in a current legal dispute over the Ultraman franchise (between Tsuburaya Productions, the creators of the shows and characters, and Chaiyo Productions, a Thai company which wants to outright steal Ultraman from them). A Chinese company co-produced an illegal TV series which was to have aired in Thailand by now, but was successfully stopped by Tsuburaya. The lawsuit still continues.

  • http://tomcatltd.com/ Tomcat

    Daniel: The copyright wouldn’t run out on Mickey Mouse himself, just on the cartoons he appeared in. Mickey Mouse is a trademark which allows exclusive use by Disney as long as they use him. At least that’s what I understand.

  • John A

    You know, this reminds me of the time someone in America tried to cash in on Disneyland’s success by building a substandard amusement park with mostly off the shelf rides and lots of overpriced shops and restarants. I think the man’s name was Michael Eisner, and the park was called California Adventure, hey, did anyone ever sue him for that?

  • http://zekeyspaceylizard.blogspot.com ZekeySpaceyLizard

    The costumes and art in that park are so bad. I am laughing so hard!

  • http://www.louiedelcarmen.com Louie del Carmen

    Does this mean I can go ahead with my plans for a Chairman Mao theme park i’ve been hatching up? “He’s just a cat with big ears” and besides, mainland china is “too far away”….

  • Will Finn

    I particularly like the mash-up of “Goofy” and “Opus” into a single incongruous character. Also, check out the low-rent SHREK in the final freeze frame behind the in-studio host!!! They should call this Amatuer CosPlayLand.

  • Pepe Livingston

    Yes. but how much does it cost to get in?

  • Cyber Fox

    The more pitiful thing about China/Hong Kong’s piracy is most of their pirated/bootlegged goods are flooding eBay (video games and otherwise)

  • http://www.brilliantisland.com Robert

    This is not surprising at all for a place where they have been substituting poisons for safe ingredients in food and drugs just to cut costs. For 20 years now, according to the NY Times.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    This pretty much explains Southeast Asia in a nutshell. It’s hard to stop it as well due to the years of buildup that took place and the number of pirates out there. It’s pretty much beating a dead horse with those people and you have to learn to accept it or else it could still be annoying (like the newbies who buy anime bootleg DVDs without knowing the full truth).

    And yes for some of us around the globe, Disneyland is TOO far away! :-)

  • Robert Reynolds

    For anyone who might be interested, an author (Norman Spinrad) did a story quite a few years back, entitled “Year of the Mouse”, which this post reminded my of, for reasons which will be obvious if you’ve read Spinrad’s story.

    Spinrad has a webpage and he’s posted an English version of the story there. I think it’s apropos to mention it here. May this find you happy and healthy.

  • AliasMcNoName

    Disney steals ‘Jungle King’ repackage it as ‘Lion King’ and then denies all evidence of the theft after they make a billion dollars. I won’t lose sleep over this…

  • Chris Sobieniak

    Pretty much, what goes around, comes around!

    Thanks Rob for the Spinrad piece. It kinda puts things into perfect perspective in the end.

  • http://www.autodaddy.blogspot.com tom

    This is the tipping point. We’re going to war with China.

  • Quiet_Desperation

    >> Does this mean I can go ahead with my
    >> plans for a Chairman Mao theme park

    Do not miss Chairman Mao’s Wild Ride! Take a wacky adventure through the destruction of a culture and the ruination of millions of lives in this zany ride! Fun for the whole family!

    And the newest attraction: Anti-Space Mountain. You hop a ride on an antisatellite weapon, and fill Earth orbit with even more useless junk! Yay!

    >>> Disney steals ‘Jungle King’ repackage it as ‘Lion King’

    Kimba (Kimba) Kimba (Kimba) Kimba (Kimba) Kimba (Kimba)
    Who lives down in deepest darkest Africa? (Africa)
    Who’s the one who brought the jungle fame?
    Who’s the king of Animals in Africa?
    Kimba the white lion is his name!

    Wow. I feel really old right now. :(

    • Ed Rhodes

      I have been down this road so often it’s becoming a joke. Disney WANTED to steal “Kimba – The White Lion” they went far enough to develop images. Then, (I imagine) someone told Eisner he was going to get caught so they took the stuff they had a reworked it into “The Lion King.” But if you see the first episode of “Kimba” you realize that Kimba’s father gets killed by poachers, Kimba and his mother are to be sent to America for a zoo when the ship sinks and Kimba escapes (his mother drowns) Kimba swims back to Africa and (I’m not kidding here) tries to form a government among the animals! There’s also a point where Kimba is talking with human game wardens over situations. It’s obvious that, superficial similarities which came from the early development, “Kimba-The White Lion” and “The Lion King” actually have very little in common.

  • http://www.theimaginaryworld.com Dan Goodsell

    This is not the first time someone ripped off Disneyland. In Japan in the 1960′s they built a fake Disneyland called Nara Dreamland. It just closed recently For more info check out this article

    Nara Dreamland

  • http://geocities.com/yukotassen snuppy

    What?! They copied Hello Kitty!?
    Who copied Musti!?!?
    Who copied Miffy?!?!

    http://www.boingboing.net/2004/09/12/is_hello_kitty_a_cop.html

    Also, wasn’t Mickey/Oswald a Felix imitation?

    And isn’t the Disneyland castle’s design stolen from the Neuschwanstein? http://web.wilson.k12.pa.us/buildings/sh/staffpages/clatin/Neuschwanstein.jpg
    And the Matterhorn looks an awful lot like the… matterhorn:)

  • james

    Oh man, I want to go there!!
    I think I’d rather go to this mind-bending weirdoland than any of the current parks Disney has to offer.

  • Chris Sobieniak

    > What?! They copied Hello Kitty!?
    > Who copied Musti!?!?
    > Who copied Miffy?!?!

    Heh, I remember Musti! :-) (thanks Nickelodeon for having shown those obscure Eurotoons 25 years ago)

    > Oh man, I want to go there!!
    > I think I’d rather go to this mind-bending weirdoland than any of the current parks Disney has to offer.

    Better yet, I’d want an Otakuland! (see “Otaku no Video”)

  • vzk

    Todd Goldman now has his own theme park!

  • http://highlyrecommended.blogspot.com Satorical

    You misspelled it. The actual name of the place is “Shenanigans Amusement Park.”

  • Jeffrey Gray

    For those of you who think that the early Disney cartoons should be allowed to go into the public domain, this is what happens when studio-owned films end up in the public domain:
    My Man Godfrey
    He Walked By Night
    Zulu
    Royal Wedding

    Fortunately, in some cases, the inheritors of the original rights, the would-be copyright holders (if the copyrights were still in effect), have the courage to release restored/remastered releases against a tide of cheap $5 DVDs from fly-by-night distributors. Such films as “His Girl Friday,” “Charade,” “Till the Clouds Roll By,” “The Little Princess,” and, in the near future, “Royal Wedding,” are examples.

    But in many more cases, the poor releases create a disincentive for the studios to release restored/remastered versions from the original materials they still hold. The aforementioned “The Stranger” is only on an official MGM DVD outside of North America. Many more films, such as “Beneath the 12-Mile Reef,” the original “A Star is Born,” and Frank Capra’s classic “Meet John Doe,” have not had an official release.

  • Keith Paynter

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.”

    “HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!
    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA!”

    “The real Disneyland is too far!”

    “Come on! My children need wine!”

  • Tom Smith

    I wonder why Disney has to assert its copyright..
    Although the Chinese state-operated amusent park infringed on Disney’s copyright, it is no use telling it not to display the dolls and the other things which look like Disney’s prouducts.

  • Jeffrey Gray

    Well, Disney *is* planning/building a theme park in Shanghai; I guess that Disney feels that, since it’s building a new Disneyland in mainland China, it needs to assert its copyright and protect against ripoffs.

    I would.

  • Howie P

    Doesn’t China already have Hong Kong Disneyland, which is officially Disney?

  • http://www.myspace.com/hallsofcort corthew

    Why should our laws apply in other countries just because we want them to.
    Walt Disney’s older characters are in the public domain anyway.
    Just because congress pushed a law through to protect it till the end of the world doesn’t mean they have the right to do that.
    And if they do have that right, then shouldn’t it retroactive?
    If it’s right for Disney why isn’t it right for everyone else?

    And if it should be retroactive then shouldn’t disney be required to pay royalties to the decendants of all those writers and historical characters they’ve ripped off through the years?

    But regardless of that, why does it being wrong in this country presume that its must be wrong in others?
    That’s a bit self-righteous of us.

  • sandman

    If the Chinese government protects its constituents in doing this, then unless the US goes to war with China and wins. Simple as that. That’s the might-makes-right nature of the social contract guaranteed by governments. If there can be no reconciliation between the two, the privileges guaranteed by the Chinese government for its own citizens to do what they want in their own country, and the protective rights guaranteed by the American government for what anyone else is allowed to do anywhere else, that’s how wars happen. Besides, it gives me a warm feeling deep down to see someone successfully sticking it to Disney.

    If you favor Disney on this and want to DEMAND that they cannot do this, then you are EXACTLY THE SAME as a Muslim in Saudi Arabia wanting to behead someone in the Netherlands for drawing Mohammad. Exactly the same.

    • Ed Rhodes

      Um, no. Wanting someone’s copyright protection to be legally supported is nothing whatsoever like wanting to behead someone for drawing a picture.