That said, great theme parks, like many great movies, are about world-building and escapism. If a director (and his team) create a world of depth and beauty, that makes sense and can be inhabited by the viewer (visitor), then they have succeeded.
There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding of this among the real estate developers who have invested many billions in theme parks over the last 15 years and not created anything close to a great theme park (not referencing under-construction Dreamworld). They seemingly will look at the Western template and say "put something like this here. People like rollercoaster rides, so put a big one here. People like flume rides, put one here" with out rhyme or reason, without seeking the "why".
Here's the key: A great theme park isn't a collection of rides. A great park is the ride. It is the movie. All its components are the actors, the quiet scenes, the action sequences, the climax, the score, etc. All these things need to work together in a pleasing and coherent whole to have a chance at making a great film (or theme park). This is not to say a theme park requires a central tone or story, like most movies. Just that they need to be coordinated with all the parts at least aware of the others (like a film or symphony orchestra)
Check this out:
All that nice, expensive theme-ing in the background is made totally moot by all that visual cacophony in the fore-ground. The looming commieblocks that form the distant backdrop don't help. Each attraction is seemingly thought of in isolation, ignoring the effects it has on neighboring rides or areas, making it difficult to feel like you've entered another time or place in this park.
Here's a contrast showing the importance of great art direction and commitment to place-making in a themed flume's total environment:
Another contrast, showing the importance of detail, massing and architectural awareness:
I've read articles saying the Chinese audience approaches theme parks fundamentally differently than Westerners (and the Japanese). I'm not convinced that's true. Give China a truly great theme park (maybe SDL will be the first) and we'll have a better answer.
Ocean Park in Hong Kong is ugly (not the mountain views but the park) and has very bland rides. Still it is a veeery strong competition to Hong Kong Disneyland that looks and feels much better but costs a bit more and has fewer and tamer rides. People want a themepark with many rides and cheap entry fees. Big thrills never hurts either.
I hope Shanghai Disneyland will have enough rides and thrills AND good views to be number one on the mainland no matter what other park joins the competition. ...any park cheaper than Disney is a competitor in China.