Splendid China (Florida)

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Coordinates: 28°20′03″N 81°36′31″W / 28.33417°N 81.60861°W / 28.33417; -81.60861 Splendid China was a theme park in the census-designated place of Citrus Ridge, Florida near Orlando. It opened in 1993 and closed on December 31, 2003. It was a sister park to Splendid China in Shenzhen, China which is still open and receives many visitors. Florida Splendid China cost $100,000,000 to build.[1]

At its height of popularity, it was a 75 acres (30 ha) miniature park with more than 60 replicas at one tenth scale. Each piece was handcrafted to maintain authenticity. The park's replica of the Great Wall took nearly seven million 1 inch (25 mm) long bricks and stretches about .5 miles (0.80 km). The replica of the Leshan Buddha was four stories tall.[2]

After the park's opening, Florida Splendid China put on shows featuring a rotating cast of 60 dancers, actors, and acrobats from the People's Republic of China (PRC). After a number of artisans, dancers and members of the cast escaped and sought political asylum in the United States, Florida Splendid China reduced the number of cast members from overseas and hired local performers.

Splendid China was criticized for being owned by the government of the People's Republic of China in that officers of the corporation that owned, controlled and operated Florida Splendid China (China Travel Service) were appointed by the State Council of the People's Republic of China. The critics cited the following specific allegations about the inclusion of minority exhibits:

Specifically, we are protesting the inclusion of the Potala Palace that was built by the Tibetan people and served as the home of successive Dalai Lamas since 1645, the Id Gah Mosque and Tomb of Abakh Hoja which serve as cultural icons of the people of Eastern Turkestan and the Mausoleum of Genghis Khan and the Mongolian Yurt exhibit which attempt to add a Chinese name to the Southern Mongolian people. [3]

After closing its gates, Splendid China suffered a rash of attacks from thieves and vandals. Hundreds of items were taken ranging from small miniatures to portions of life-size statues. The perpetrators, thought to be local youths, were never caught.[4]

The property has passed through several owners and in July 2009 was up for sale at an asking price of $30 million.[5]

On May 9, 2013, the new owners started to tear down the Park. [6]

History[edit]

The original idea for the Florida Splendid China theme park was that of Josephine Chen, a former educator from Taiwan. In 1988, Chen toured a prototype park, "Splendid China Miniature Scenic Spot", in Shenzhen, China operated by China Travel Service (CTS). This park is close to Hong Kong. 3.5 million people visited the park during the first year.[when?] CTS recouped its US$100 million investment during this first year.

She negotiated an agreement with CTS, controlled by Overseas Chinese Affairs Office, under the China National Tourism Administration. Under the agreement, Chen supplied the land and management services, while CTS would construct the building, and supply non-management personnel.[7]

On December 19, 1989, groundbreaking ceremonies were held for the start of construction for Florida Splendid China.[8]

In December 1993, the American partners were bought out by the Chinese government.[9]

In December 1993, protest demonstrations started against perceived Chinese Communist Party propaganda in the Mongolian and Tibetan exhibits.[10][11][12]

In November 1995, the Pinellas County, Florida school board voted to ban trips to Florida Splendid China.[13]

In March 1996, at the 11th demonstration against perceived Chinese Communist Party propaganda in the Tibetan, Mongolian and Eastern Turkestan exhibits, five college students sat down and closed the front gate Florida Splendid China while a large crowd of demonstrators watched.[14]

On April 19, 1996 the Representative Assembly of the 1996 Florida Teaching Professionals-NEA State Conference in Orlando passes resolution to ban personal or school trips to Florida Splendid China from its members. The resolution passed overwhelmingly.

In May 1996, the Orlando Sentinel reported that the President, General Manager, and Senior Vice-President for Entertainment were replaced in what was described as a 'big management shakeup'.[14]

In July 1996, the Orlando Business Journal reported that Florida Splendid China was changing their name to "Chinatown."[14]

In August 1996, the Orlando Business Journal reported that marketing department of Florida Splendid China had shrunk by 5 positions.[14]

In October 1997, the brother of the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet (Takster Rinpoche), attended the 20th demonstration at Florida Splendid China to commemorate the 48th anniversary of takeover of Eastern Turkestan.[15]

In March 1998, the Orlando Sentinel reported that Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda asked Attorney General Janet Reno and the US Department of Justice to investigate Florida Splendid China for violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act.[16]

In May 1999, the Far East Economic Review reported that Florida Splendid China was losing $9 million (9,000,000) a year.[17]

In December 1999, Citizens Against Communist Chinese Propaganda held the 32nd demonstration at the main gate of Florida Splendid China to commemorate the 6th anniversary of the Grand Opening.[18]

In May 2000, the Orlando Business Journal reported that Sunny Yang, Florida Splendid China president, confirmed that the motel property was about to change hands and that sources close to the attraction had said that the park was to be sold and closed.[19]

In November 2000, the Orlando Business Journal reported:

Amid allegations of financial mismanagement, the former president (Sunny Yang) of the struggling Splendid China attraction has been sent back to mainland China.[20]

Exhibits[edit]

  • The Mogao
  • The Mogao Grottoes Cave
  • The Yungang
  • The Longmen
  • Leshan Buddha
  • Buddhist Stone Sculptures in Dazu
  • The Midair Temple
  • Cliffside Tombs
  • Stone Forest
  • Shanhaiguan Pass of the Great Wall
  • Nine Dragon Wall
  • Mongolian Yurt
  • Mausoleum of Genghis Khan
  • The Great Wall
  • 1000 Eyes and 1000 Hands Guanyin Buddha Statue
  • Xiang Fei's Tomb (Tomb of Apak Hoja)
  • Id Gah Mosque
  • Panda Playground
  • Bai Dwelling Houses
  • Three Ancient Pagodas in Dali
  • Manfeilong Pagoda
  • The Dai Village
  • Jinzhen Octagonal Pavilion
  • Potala Palace
  • Lijiang River Scenery
  • Foshan Ancestral Temple
  • Zhenghai Tower
  • The Dwelling House of the Hakkas
  • Water Village
  • Tengwang Pavilion
  • West Lake Scenery
  • Town God Temple
  • Chinese Garden
  • Temple of Confucius
  • Summer Palace
  • Zhaozhou
  • Lugouqiao (Marco Polo Bridge)
  • The Imperial Palace
  • Jin Gang Bao Zuo Pagoda
  • The White Pagoda in Miaoying Temple
  • Yingxian Wooden Pagoda
  • Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shihuang Mausoleum
  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda
  • Jiayuguan Pass of the Great Wall
  • Ancient Star-Observatory
  • Memorial Temple of Zhuge Liang (Temple of Marquis Wu)
  • Buyi Village
  • Miao Village
  • Wind and Rain Bridge, Drum Tower of the Dong
  • The Yueyang Pavilion (Tower)
  • Yellow Crane Tower
  • Feihong Pagoda
  • Shaolin Temple
  • Pagoda Forest
  • Jin Ancestral Temple
  • Temple of Heaven
  • Sun Yat Sen's Mausoleum

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Buddhist plan demonstration at China park";Tampa Tribune; 11-30-1993
  2. ^ various. Florida DK Travel Guide 2004. p. 178. 
  3. ^ "Website of critics". Retrieved August 20, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Splendid China replicas to make way for development". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved November 8, 2007. 
  5. ^ "Trouble haunts ruins of Splendid China". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved July 16, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Closed attraction Splendid China to be demolished". Fox 35 Orlando. Retrieved May 9, 2013. 
  7. ^ "From "Florida Splendid China"; Kenneth R. Timmerman, American Spectator Magazine; February 1999" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  8. ^ "Groundbreaking". Caccp.freedomsherald.org. 1995-10-11. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  9. ^ ""Theme park takes bow as activists create row: The communist nation becomes sole owner of Florida Splendid China after U.S. partner pulls out"; Annie Tin; Orlando Sentinel December 19, 1993" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  10. ^ ""Buddhist plan demonstration at China park"; Karen Haymon Long; Tampa Tribune; December 19, 1993" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  11. ^ ""Looks like China? It may be Florida"; Al Levine; The Atlanta Constitution December 19, 1993" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  12. ^ ""Newest Attraction attracts protesters Buddhist monks and others quietly protest the opening of Splendid China near Orlando"; Laura Griffin; The St. Petersburg Times December 20, 1993" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  13. ^ ""Clearwater, Florida to Ban the School Visits to China Theme Park"; -; Reuters; November 6, 1995" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  14. ^ a b c d "1996 Media" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  15. ^ ""Dalai Lama's brother protests at China park"; Jim Stratton; Orlando Sentinel; October 13, 1997" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  16. ^ "1998 Media" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  17. ^ ""Not-So-Splendid Deal"; Lesley Clark; Far East Economic Review; May 13, 1999" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  18. ^ "1998 Media" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  19. ^ ""Splendid China slated for sale"; Alan Byrd; Orlando Business Journal; May 26, 2000" (PDF). Retrieved 2012-10-29. 
  20. ^ ""Where in the world is Yang?"; Alan Byrd; Orlando Business Journal; November 6, 2000". Bizjournals.com. 2000-11-06. Retrieved 2012-10-29. 

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