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Construction to start on Universal Studios theme park in Beijing

Construction to start on Universal Studios theme park in Beijing
A girl runs through the spray at the entrance of Universal Studios Hollywood. Construction for a new Universal Studios park in Beijing will begin later this year. (Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times)

Construction is set to start later this year on a $2-billion Universal Studios theme park in Beijing, according to published reports.

A park in Beijing has been under discussion for years, but details have remained murky. A spokesperson for Universal Studios Theme Parks, a division of NBC Universal, could not be reached for comment.

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The park would be the sixth for Universal, including four already in operation and one that is set to open in South Korea in 2016.

Construction will begin in Beijing later this year, with completion scheduled for 2018, according to the website aastocks.com. The site quotes officials from the National Development and Reform Commission in the Tongzhou District.

With a burgeoning middle class, Asia has become a hot market for U.S.-based theme parks. Attendance at theme parks in Asia grew by 6% in 2012, compared with the previous year, twice the rate of growth at theme parks in North America, according to a study by Aecom, a Los Angeles engineering and consulting firm.

Universal operates parks in Singapore and Japan, in addition to U.S. parks in Los Angeles (Hollywood)  and Orlando.

Walt Disney Parks & Resorts operates parks in Hong Kong and Tokyo, in addition to parks in Anaheim, Orlando and Paris. It is expected to open a new park in Shanghai in 2015.

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