'The Smurfs' theme park planned in SW China

CHENGDU – Papa Smurf and his merry band of blue-skinned friends will have a new home in China, with the construction of a “Smurf”-themed park scheduled to take place in the city of Chengdu, the capital of Southwest China’s Sichuan province, over the next three to five years.

The amusement park will be built with an investment of 20 billion yuan (around US$3.2 billion or equal to about 128 KidZanias!) by Chengdu Teda Sino-Europe Construction Co., Ltd. in collaboration with IMPS, an international merchandising company based in Belgium, according to a report released by DTZ, a global real estate advisor.

Chengdu Teda said on its website that the agreement with IMPS was actually reached in July 2010, but did not say when the construction will start or where the park will specifically be located.

The park is expected to receive around 10 million visitors a year, making it a tourist destination on par with Chengdu’s giant pandas.

The Smurfs, designed by Belgian cartoonist Peyo in 1958, became popular after starring in their own television series in the 1980s. This summer’s live-action and animation film “The Smurfs,” starring Neil Patrick Harris and pop star Katy Perry, received a warm welcome from Chinese audiences.

In France, a “Smurfs” amusement park struggled to survive during the 1990s. The park is still there, but no longer features a “Smurfs”-related theme.

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