This week, we take a look at some of the fan reactions to a small new attraction; find out how Hong Kong Disneyland is doing in the polls and wonder what to do why Autopia is closed.
Consider me gobsmacked. With well over 2100 hits, and counting, last week’s column is undoubtedly the most read “This Week in Hong Kong Disneyland” we’ve ever produced. Now, call me a cynic, but rather than praising my own skills with the written word, I tend to suspect that the result of all those hits has something to do with all of those official Disney photos of the interior of the new it’s a small world attraction. So here we are, a not so busy week later, with more words.
The reactions to the it’s a small world photos have been mixed and varied. My initial reaction was “My god, they’ve been working on this since 2006. Gosh time flies when you’re having fun…”. It seems that most of the responses I’ve seen come not from a newfound interest in Hong Kong Disneyland on the part of the Disney fan populace (although new things anywhere always tend to get a higher interest rate), but rather a reaction to the proposed changes in Anaheim. I don't mind telling you, here at HKDLSource, our opinions are divided on the subject and that is inevitable with any group of fans passionate about a particular topic. In this case, it is an especially sensitive one as it's a small world is not simply another Disney attraction, but an icon with a song that almost exists independently of the ride in the public consciousness.
Fan outrage will always erupt when a classic ride, especially one overseen by Uncle Walt, is proposed. Just look at the reactions to Pirates of the Caribbean and Tom Sawyer’s Island in Anaheim last year. That said, these things have a habit of passing over and being forgotten once punters get in there and start enjoying the new digs. The biggest difference with the Hong Kong version is the Hong Kong skyline; the new Asian and American bit and most controversially, the ‘doll versions’ of classic Disney characters. As I mentioned briefly last week, these dolls seem to keep with the general feel of the Mary Blair inspired classic attraction, and people are getting far too precious about every change. People go to a Disney park to experience the magic that only Disney can provide, and there is something a little dated – not to mention creepy – about a forty-year-old dolls singing about a world of laughter and a world of tears. On a personal level, I’m finding it great that there is something to be excited about in Hong Kong Disneyland. Every time a change or new attraction is mentioned in any of the parks, my little ears perk up. If Disneyland were to remain static, it would be tragic. If Hong Kong Disneyland did the same, it would be fatal.
Comments I’ve spotted around the ‘net have included “amazing”; and in relation to the Disney characters “natural and non-intrusive”. It’s not all smiles, as some feel it “completely changes the meaning of the ride”, and others just think that the “Woody and Jesse insert looks a little tacky”. The World of Animation has its opinion too, over at the Re-Imagineering blog. They are coming from the "leave a classic alone" perspective, and while I'm all for change, they do make some pretty solid arguments. How do you feel? Be sure to leave a comment at the bottom of this article.
All of this comes back to where Hong Kong Disneyland could be positioning itself. Hong Kong Disneyland is in a unique position, where it isn't burdened by the history that causes so much grief to change in the other parks. With over fifty years of heritage, not to mentioning building on available space, the original Disney parks simply don't have the ability to experiment like their Hong Kong cousin. Hong Kong Disneyland is in an unique position, because it can try new things like skylines in it's a small world, or combining the Jungle Cruise, Tarzan's Treehouse and the Rivers of America. They can wow Asian audiences, while giving the American parks a little more inspiration to how far they can tweak their rides before the villagers start running with pitchforks and fiery things. There’s so much that we share – isn’t it time we’re aware it’s a small world, after all?
In my rush to get those photos out last week, here was a little story I missed. Local newspaper The Standard reports that “Hong Kong Disneyland has plunged nearly to the bottom of the world's 25 most popular theme parks last year - five places behind major rival Ocean Park - according to a survey by Themed Entertainment Association and Economics Research Associates”.
The full article can be read here.
Without any real explantion, the official site has been updated to state: " Tomorrowland attraction Autopia is temporarily closed for maintenance." Fans with memories that stretch back to September last year will remember that the ride was temporarily shut when one of the cars derailed. We'll let you know if this is going down for a while, and when it comes back up!
More details on scheduled closures can be seen below.
We're just getting warmed up! With our membership sign-up section fixed, there is no stopping the onslaught of the Member Zone; the fabled competition and anything else we've written down on the back of a coaster over the last few years. 2008 is going to be huge.
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