Sanrio, owner of the Hello Kitty brand, is to license a theme park in China based around the kitsch cat character.
Selected to develop the masterplan and concept design for the project in Anji (Zheijiang province) is the Hettema Group. Scheduled to open in 2014, the park will be located less than a two-hour drive from Shanghai, accessed via a new freeway. Despite Hello Kitty’s child-friendly colours, the project will feature a natural theme exploiting the bamboo groves and scenic relaxation areas in the Longwang Mountain Nature Reserve.
“Hello Kitty Park will be sensitively integrated into the landscape,” highlights Phil Hettema, president, creative executive and founder of the Hettema Group. “Ecological themes such as sustainability, recycling, and alternative energy sources will be featured throughout the park’s attractions.”
The elements of fire, water, wood, metal and earth will create sub-themes for each of five areas, which will together form a flower petal design. Also included will be a festival area to celebrate and handle increased attendance at peak periods such as Chinese New Year.
Sanrio already operates two theme parks in Japan, Sanrio Puroland in Tokyo and Sanrio Harmonyland in Oita. Hello Kitty Park, the working title of the Chinese project, will be the company’s first outdoor park operation outside of its home country. The developer is Zhejiang New Insight Leisure Tourism Development Co, which will license the Hello Kitty characters and related intellectual property from Saniro. Groundbreaking is expected this coming November.
The Hettema Group, which specialises in creative design, production and architecture for theme parks and other attractions, recently created the award-winning, multimedia experience Beyond All Boundaries for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans and is just about to begin work on design of the Newport Harbor Nautical Museum/ExplorOcean in California.