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Universal Studios to open theme park in Beijing

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Construction is set to start 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, declined to comment on the latest report.

The park will 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 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 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 and Orlando, Fla.

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

hugo.martin@latimes.com

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