Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Blue Sky Alert Asia (Hong Kong)...




Things are really, really secretive when it comes to talking about Disney's most troubled Resort. Normally when that statement is said we're usually talking about Disneyland Paris, but since opening in 2005 the Walt Disney Company has a new theme park for that title. DLP actually looks to be climbing it's way out of the financial black hole it was in and could see a bright future. Stay tuned for a future post on Paris.

Since the restructuring of WDI there has been a great deal of shuffing going on. Even projects that have been approved are getting a second look. This is not a bad thing since the new management and Lasseter seem to realize the cure for bad attendence isn't scimping on rides to save money, but building more and better themed ones to bring in new customers. Radical idea, don't you think?

Anyway, when it comes to the Resort there is a focus on the retailing side as I've mentioned before. There was a kind of wait and see attitude with the old management. Things are still in the embryonic state for the new team but my sources tell me they will take a much more agressive attitude toward the park. The Resort's version of Downtown Disney should be announced sometime mid to late 2008 and will be quite a nicely themed complex reflecting the culture and area of Hong Kong while still resembling the DD we all know and visit.

A decision on a Second Gate is still years off, since Disney has until 2013 to make it's intentions to build a park to the Hong Kong government. And the HK government is making sure Disney knows that if they don't build something in the newly reclaimed land... the government will make sure someone will. The Phase 2 project across the berm is scheduled to be completed in 2008, but already the government is making it clear to Disney that it will not get this prized land for the cheap amount that it got HKDL. Especially now that everyone is unhappy with the attendance numbers. Other names have been bandied about to the WDC executives at the resort. Names they don't like hearing... Universal, MGM and another not so well known company. The last thing Disney wants is for the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort to have a direct competition across the berm from one of these companies. The main haggling item has been price, but hopefully by the end of the decade there will be a compromise and we will see an announcement of a new Disney theme park around 2011(there's that year again) or 2012.

Don't worry about what the concept will be. It's far enough off that WDI has plenty of time to take the hundreds of concepts it has and make one work for Hong Kong. Although a few have already made the cut...

A new themed hotel designed for the Resort was shelved until attendance rises. Once the new rides open later this year and IASW opens in 2008, we may see this one come out of mothballs and move forward for a 2010 or 2011 opening. Time will tell...



Did I mention haggling over price? That happens to be one of the main reasons that HKDL's version of Pirates had it's sails taken down. It's going to be a great version of the ride... if you love the movies. The ride will still have elements from the Anaheim version but will be more lavishly themed to the movie version and be a tad bit darker in tone. So that means in addition to Jack Sparrow, we can look forward to Captain Barbosa rambling from the deck of the Black Pearl as well as other characters represented in the various scenes visitors will encounter. Another item that they're trying to work in is the addition of Captain Sao Feng(Chow Yun Fat) from the new movie. Chow is huge in Hong Kong and the addition of his character could add alot of "ticks" to the turnstiles. Again, his character is not finalized for the version but if Disney and the city government officials can come to a deal then construction could begin in 2009 for a 2011 or 2012 opening. A great deal rides on if IASW opens well and the parks numbers increase to a degree that the company and city officials can justify it. Another factor that Disney didn't think they'd have to deal with could bring them to the bargaining table...

Ocean Park.

The park across the way is doing far better than originally atticipated. Company officials thought they'd own the Hong Kong market and are rather surprised at the competition it's getting from the park. This is a good thing, because competition will make sure the rides and attractions that follow will be designed to make sure people visiting the resort don't even think about visiting Ocean Park. Cross yer fingers and head to the Resort, increasing the "ticks" if you want to see Pirates roaming around an elaborate expansion of Adventureland, me hartees.

There is preliminary work being done for a "Voodoo" Haunted Mansion as well, but it would likely get approved only well into the construction of Pirates. Several "C" and at least one "D" ride are scheduled to be built should they finally bite the bullet. The "D" ticket could be one of several proposals, the most favored of which, at this time is a themed roller coaster. As I often repeat... these are preliminary ideas still being tossed around and we are still years off so the "D" ticket could change.

The one true bright spot in this is that any future attractions or gates from WDI will not be conceived and designed with Bean Counters in charge of greenlighting the ideas. Rather, the new management is focusing on giving the residence and visitors of Hong Kong a worthy theme park to call their own and not a clone of Anaheim or Orlando... or Paris or Tokyo for that mater.

More updates to follow on this in July, possibly...

3 comments:

Michiel said...

"Stay tuned for a future post on Paris."

Have been waiting for that one since I discovered this beautiful blog, can't wait!

Honor Hunter said...

Uhm... gee, thanks.

The Paris update of Blue Sky will probably be out around the middle of June sometime.

Anonymous said...

I hope this really happens. It would make me want to go see HK Disneyland, which up until now I haven't. It's just too small and lacking in rides. This Pirates ride would give it something else to see. Something no other park has.