UPDATED: It's been about a week since the last weekly column, so we feel comfortable about unveiling the latest 'This Week in Hong Kong Disneyland'. This week, we discuss the latest piratey developments and discuss just how far the park has come in the last 18 months. We also engage in shameless self-promotion, and bring you some recent news about upcoming closures in the park. So what are you waiting for?
Every week I sit down to pen one of these updates, I think to myself ‘Oh well, another week where nothing has happened’. Then the second I start typing, some major event or another happens and I have to do the whole thing over again. So basically, if you really want to get things moving in Hong Kong Disneyland, commission me to sit down and write columns on a regular basis. Oh, the power we wield at the HKDL Source. Bwhahahah.
Delusions of grandeur aside, the weekend saw Disney’s official response to a question we posed to them about the forthcoming Pirates Overlay for Adventureland. Set to coincide with the theatrical release of Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, the idea is to create an immersive experience through live entertainment; shop displays; characters; merchandise and food throughout May and June in both Adventureland and the Hotels. In addition to being one of the first times that Hong Kong Disneyland’s campaign has been in sync with the rest of the Disney World. The Californian Disneyland will see the premiere of the film in May; while Walt Disney World in Florida will see a three-day, multi-tiered event on open water entitled Pirates of the Caribbean Adventures at the Seven Seas Lagoon. While some may complain that there are just ‘too many Pirates’ at Disney Parks and Resorts, there is no arguing that this franchise is bigger than Disney ever anticipated. A campaign at Hong Kong Disneyland based specifically on the phenomenon may be precisely what is needed to raise the profile of the park and bring it closer to the rest of the Disney family. That said, a permanent Pirates of the Caribbean attraction – especially the rumoured Pirates Themed Land – would probably go further towards creating this kind of high profile, but everything in small steps I guess.
Speaking of small steps, the other article we came across this week that has been garnering some interest is the Telegraph report, “Waiting for the Crowds”. While the article spoke about the rocky start the park has had, and the upbeat attitude of director Bill Ernest around the time of the Chinese New Year. While nobody can dispute Disney’s desire to put an upbeat spin on things, Ernest was perhaps a little more upbeat than is warranted. "This is a seasonal business," insisted Ernest. "Our busiest periods are our fiscal third and fourth quarters [April to September], and we have resolved the problems we experienced early on." Once again, the seasonality of the theme park business is not open to dispute, as even the US parks have their quiet periods throughout the year. However to suggest, as Ernest does in the article, that the early problems have been magically ‘fixed’ is not simply optimistic, but misguided. As one commentator, known only as Witches of Morva, suggested on a the popular MiceChat forum “They really should have opened the park with more E-ticket type attractions, instead of a few side-dish attractions”. This really gets to the crux of things – how can anyone claim that the park is ‘fixed’ when the factors contributing to the original complaints (“too small” and “not enough to do”) have simply not been effectively dealt with over the 18 months since opening. While other users compared the park to the other much-maligned – and similarly small - Disney’s California Adventure, we see the comparison on a slightly different level. Both parks have potential. There is no doubt that both parks have improved since their initial opening, and both parks have got a vision for the future. However, in either case, suggesting that they have been fixed is tantamount to putting in a pot-plant and saying your house has been renovated. The increased amount of seasonal activity and events in the park shows great promise, but there is still a long way to go.
Case in point happens this week in Hong Kong Disneyland. Between March 5 and 16 at various times, the Hong Kong Disneyland Railroad; UFO Zone and Autopia will either be closed or inaccessible to wheelchairs. For example, on March 6 and 7, guests will not be able to visit the UFO Zone or the Disneyland Railroad. While some may not consider the former a loss, the closure of the Railroad for 3 days sees the park’s longest ride shut down. In a place that really only has about half a dozen ‘rides’ in the traditional sense, this is quite a noticeable event. Once again, we question any suggestion that the park has been ‘fixed’. (For more information on these are other closures, see the Current Closures/ Refurbishments section below).
Now, one thing we hate are those sites that constantly go on about the ‘bad’ things happening in the parks. One has to question whether people are really ‘fans’ if all they can do is find fault in that which they claim to love. So please don’t get us wrong – we absolutely adore Hong Kong Disneyland or we wouldn’t be in this gig to start with. So with that in mind, there is plenty to be excited about in the coming months. In addition to the already confirmed Mickey’s WaterWorks and Animation Academy in July, the next few months promises the Pirates overlay and a few other promotions that we are in the process of confirming with Disney. Hopefully we will hear from them sometime this week. Naturally, we will let you know the second we do. Well, the second plus however long it takes me to type it up here.
A few bits of housekeeping before we sign out. We’ve got a stack of photos and even a video from Tom’s recent trip to Hong Kong Disneyland for the Chinese New Year celebrations getting ready to roll. The latter is still being toyed with by our tech people, but you can find Tom's mammoth 119 picture gallery here.
The other thing I wanted to mention this week is HKDL Source’s support of the Disney Online Community's charity drive, led by MiceAge columnist Kevin Yee, to Give Kids the World. Give Kids the World is a magical resort where kids who face life-threatening illnesses can be kids. To make a donation to this very worthy cause, you can do a number of things. The most obvious is clicking on the banner below and making a donation that way:
Please donate. Every little bit helps.
Remember, as always, if you have any news, photos, trip reports or just a question, feel free to contact us. Another way you can help out the site is by voting for us on The Disney Portal. They rank all of the Disney sites on the web according to popularity and numbers of hits, and we are slowly making our way up the ranks. If you want to help us move up even higher, please use the link below to vote for us.
If you know of any events that should be listed here, please let us know.
This week, park hours will be from 10:00AM to 8:00PM for most of the month, with the Lunar New Year Festival finishing off. All weekends are presently classified as ‘Peak Ticket Days’. From March 12 to 25, hours will reduce and the park will close at 7:30 PM. However, these hours extend to 8:00 PM from March 26.
Value Annual Passholders will have all weekends blocked to them during February and March. Deluxe and Premium Passholders have no blockout dates in the near future
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