Reed Travel Features
KISSIMMEE -- For the second time in a year, Splendid China, the
76-acre theme park owned by China Travel Service Investments
(CTSI), is reinventing itself.
This time, park officials hope to attract more families and
children with twice-daily exotic-animal shows, according to Scott
Shaw, vice president of CTSI, who is overseeing the park's
Shaw also is the assistant general manager of the Days Inn
Maingate West, also operated by CTSI.
The shows, which began Feb. 1, are held daily except Wednesday
and feature such specimens as the snow tiger and the Florida
panther, some of which are endangered.
"These animals will not be jumping through hoops," Shaw said.
"Instead, we will present an educational show.
"Guests will be right there and can see what will be the
dinosaurs of tomorrow. Years from now, the snow tiger and the
Florida panther are likely to be extinct."
The park, which opened in December 1993 with miniature versions
of Chinese landmarks, never caught on with Central Florida's core
market, which is drawn to parks with thrill rides, cartoon
characters and special effects, such as Walt Disney World and
Universal Studios Florida.
In fact, sources reported that the daily attendance has been
very low on some days, although the park has garnered a following
among senior travelers and school groups.
In an earlier effort to attract more visitors, the park was
split into sections last year, retaining the original attractions,
which had a separate admission.
The front portion of the park was renamed Chinatown, and
visitors were admitted at no charge to shop, eat and watch open-air
A nighttime show with a separate admission was added and
presented in the 800-seat Golden Peacock Theater.
Shaw said that the Chinatown concept will be retained. He added
that the park's management has diversified its marketing
"We have moved away from the mentality that if we build it, they
will come," he said.
Another element under consideration is the addition of Chinese
artisans who can carve cities from ice.
Barry Woods, formerly a sales manager with Varig Airlines in St.
Louis, joined the park as assistant director of sales, focusing on
the corporate and convention markets.
New prices that cover the animal show and other daytime features
are $26.99 for visitors age 13 and older and $16.99 for those ages
5 to 12.
The nighttime show costs $14.95 and $9.95, respectively.
Tax is additional.
For more information, call (800) 244-6226.