Splendid China, a $100 Million theme park opened in 1993 on 76 acres just West of the main entrance to Walt Disney World near Orlando, Florida.
The park brought to visitors the beauty and landmarks of China in miniature form. Accurate scale models of some of China's most interesting architectural and cultural sites, populated with motionless ceramic figures appear along the park's curving and well landscaped paths
After the park's opening, Splendid China put on shows featuring a rotating cast of 60 dancers, actors, and acrobats from the People's Republic of China. After a number of artisans, dancers and members of the cast escaped and sought political asylum in the United States, Splendid China reduced the number of cast members from overseas and hired local performers.
Splendid China presented a peaceful picture of China as it had once been -- the temples populated by quaint, colorful monks, no troops stationed in Tibet, and no tanks in Tiananmen Square. Protestors charged that Florida Splendid China was a tool for propaganda rather than entertainment, and they often staged demonstrations outside the park, and also worked to end school field trip visits.
Splendid China has at times been besieged by human rights protesters, displaced Tibetan monks, and human chains objecting to missile tests (off mainland China). There are persistent accusations that the park is owned by the Chinese government, a propaganda tool lodged in the belly of the Mouse. Some opponents even say that it serves as a base for spies and is China's bid to "spruce up its image" and influence the schoolchildren of Florida.
The park's critics charged that depictions of Tibet's Potala Palace, Mongolian Yurts, and other landmarks from other cultures as being within China were attempts to legitimize Chinese Communist occupation of formerly independent areas, that the multiplicity of religious sites gave a false impression of religious and cultural tolerance within China when those religions were being oppressed, and that the park was actually owned and operated by the Chinese Government through China Travel Services and was in violation of the Foreign Agents Registration Act. Park officials denied that there was any political purpose to Florida Splendid China. The vice president of China Travel Service told The Orlando Sentinel: "We're a theme park. Nothing more."
On December 30, 2003, the following appeared on the park's website: "FLASH!!! Florida Splendid China Theme Park will discontinue operations in Central Florida as of the close of business on December 31, 2003. This determination was reached primarily due to the continued downturn in the tourism economy, as evidenced by the closing of other tourism-dependent businesses in the area. Despite several years of attempting to achieve successful theme park operations, the company has concluded that it could not longer continue to incur significant losses. To our friends and supporters, we express extreme regret that this action has become necessary."
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. The property has passed through several owners and in July 2009 was up for sale at an asking price of $30 million.
On May 9, 2013, the new owners started to tear down the park.
In August 2015, Encore Homes reported: Margarita Village Resort would open on the former Splendid China site in 2017, with resort homes, condos and time shares in Jimmy Buffet themed setting