by Evi Sari, TEA International Board Secretary
I had the privilege of participating in a delegation that visited various projects undertaken by our members in China and Hong Kong earlier this year. TEA International Board President, Melissa Oviedo, has provided a comprehensive overview of the trip’s objectives, our discussions at the U.S. Consulate and the Department of Commerce, as well as visits to Hong Kong Disneyland and Universal Studios Beijing.
One notable aspect of the trip was our time spent with the Chimelong team, where we had the opportunity to tour Chimelong Ocean Kingdom and the brand new Chimelong Spaceship Park. Rather than focusing on the scale and experience of the projects, I would like to share specific highlights that stood out during our visit.
The Chimelong Corporate Gallery
The Chimelong Corporate Gallery showcased a visual retrospective spanning more than three decades, illustrating the evolution of the company from humble beginnings. The collection of photos depicted personal journeys that shape the establishment of Chimelong parks, underscoring Mr. Su’s unwavering dedication, strong family values and the friendships forged with creators, designers, vendors, and fellow operators worldwide.
The emergence of Chimelong from its inception to becoming a world-class theme park for Chinese families was noteworthy. Mr. Su's strategic decision to incorporate international best practices into a nascent industry in China more than thirty years ago demonstrated his visionary approach and positioned Chimelong as a global Asian leader.
Leadership Lesson from Mr. Su
Our interaction with Mr. Su provided valuable insights into the incredible growth of China’s theme park industry and, notably, his unique leadership style. In a highly competitive landscape, Mr. Su stands out for his humility and groundedness. Despite achieving more milestones that what others hope to achieve in a lifetime, he maintains a perpetual student mentality—open to feedback and eager to learn from industry peers.
Important Conservation Efforts
Chimelong is making a conscious effort to promote public learning in China about wildlife conservation and habitats through educational experiences. At their Safari Park, we saw firsthand the connections many school group visitors could make with wildlife. The experiences Chimelong created in this park have the potential to help visitors learn about the conservation of wildlife and habitats, driving increased awareness of the threats posed by increased urbanization in China. This park provides a way for generations of Chinese children and families to experience and observe wild animals in a way that is traditionally inaccessible or unaffordable.
Chimelong is also working on promoting cross-cultural understanding of zoos and animal welfare. With a team of local and international experts, they have built incredible in-house expertise in conservation and zoological husbandry practices with cultural knowledge for the diverse audiences in China and Asia.
Helping the Next Generation of Creators
Chimelong’s journey to establish itself as a global leader reflects the commitment and ingenuity of its team. Of note, was their commitment to nurturing future talent, exemplified by the announcement of building an academy in Zhuhai. This forward-thinking initiative addresses a universal challenge in our industry—the lack of clear career pathways. Chimelong's provision of active learning experiences beyond textbooks contributes to attracting, training, and retaining tomorrow's talent, particularly in Asia.
Our time with Chimelong underscored the transformative power of visionary leadership, humility, and a commitment to individual and industry-wide growth. Chimelong's trajectory from a small organization to global prominence serves as an inspiring example for aspiring leaders. It illustrates the immense power of creating dialogue and partnerships, bringing people and the industry professionals together from around the world, appreciation for cultural differences, and pushing the boundaries of what is possible.
Thank you to our incredible Global Partner, Chimelong, and all those who helped make this trip possible.