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The BLOGFlume—A Sticky Situation

Hong Kong Disneyland prepares for its grand opening and a debut at the Magic Kingdom.

Written by Russell Meyer
Published: September 7, 2005 at 9:19 PM

Too Popular?
New York Times 9/8/05

Disney’s newest theme park, Hong Kong Disneyland, is scheduled to open on Monday, but they have been giving special guests and others a glimpse into the newest take on Walt Disney’s vision. On Sunday, the park hosted a charity event, which served as a trial run for Hong Kong newest tourist attraction. A near-capacity 30,000 guests turned out for the event, and it was nearly a disaster. The primary reason for the trial run was to test the capacity of the park, and how guests would take to a park which is smaller than the original Disneyland, and significantly smaller than its sister parks in Orlando, Tokyo, and Paris. Part of the park’s smaller size is because the park is not yet complete- sound familiar? (ie: Animal Kingdom, California Adventure, or Disney Studios Paris) The park is expected to grow larger in phases as different lands of the park are completed. However, as with the other recent additions of the Disney theme park empire, Hong Kong Disneyland is not only just short on space, but it is also short on attractions. Space Mountain is the only roller coaster, and the other attractions lack the zing that one expects from a theme park. Jungle Cruise, Philharmagic, Buzz Lightyear, Mad Hatter’s Teacups, Dumbo, Dumbo Clone (Orbitron), and Winnie the Pooh complete the list of attractions. Yes, there are some shows and other assorted things to do, but as with any new park, people want to ride, and with only 8, that’s right EIGHT, rides, that means with 30,000 people in the park, there’s probably about 3,000 people waiting in each line at any given time. It seems that the Chinese guests were submitted to a feature common to most Disney parks, and one that many Americans have just learned to deal with, LINES. Disney considers this a strategy for success, and if your goal is to piss off as many people as possible, I don’t think they’ll have much of a problem. Disney probably won’t have much of a problem making money in the first year or two of operation. However, those who come in the first year may be willing to wait the 2 hours or so to get on a ride, but may not be willing to fork over the dough to come back to ride a new ride once they eventually expand the park over the next few years. This concept may have worked in locations where there’s already a Disney park anchoring the attendance of the resort, but at a completely new location, I think Disney may be swimming upstream. Disney really should have opened a “mature” park, and not allow the park to mature in front of guests’ eyes. Hong Kong Disneyland should have been the best effort, but instead China is treated to the declining standards of a theme park company that is probably stretched too thin.

Expansion
Jim Hill Media 9/5/05

While one Disney park on the other side of the world is already in need of expansion before it officially opens it gates, the largest Disney park just got bigger. Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has opened a new children’s play area called Pooh’s Playful Spot. The area is supposed to take kids on a journey back to the 100-Acre Wood, to hang out with some of the favorite Pooh characters. At first glance, the area looks very nice, and the theming is very well done. However, it is apparently rather small, and looks out of place between the intricate and bold thematic elements of Tomorrowland and the whimsical and outrageous elements of Fantasyland. The playground stands on the location which once was the site for the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction. Whereas 20,000 Leagues offered a clever transition from science and technology to the world of fantasy, Pooh’s Playful Spot displays the sharp contrast between the worlds of tomorrow and fantasy. Looking at various pictures of the new attraction, I see a lot of similarities to the Brother Bear Trail play area at Disney’s California Adventure, and I was not terribly impressed with that attraction. Maybe it’s because I don’t have kids, but I don’t want to pay a big chunk of my annual income for a family vacation for my kids to hang out at a glorified McDonald’s Playland. It’s good to have a spot for the kids to be able to run around in and interact with their favorite characters, but at least give the kids something they cannot get at the local playground or fast food restaurant.

Readers' Opinions

From Anthony Murphy on September 7, 2005 at 9:43 PM
You seem very grimm about Disney, but I will agree with you that the playground is a poor choice to put in there. Personally, if I was in charge, I would bring back Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. It was a popular ride that they took out! Disney is getting too Pooh Crazy and thats just wrong! Also, they maybe should wait a little longer in China. Try to be more positive. AK and DCA have turned out well in my opinion. I am suprised that Hong Kong Disneyland is so small. I would guess that Disney would learn parks in CA vs ones in FL. Make 'em big!
From Noel G on September 7, 2005 at 11:04 PM
HOng Kong of all places should have had a Disney the size of its parent if not bigger with 1/2 of the worlds population in the asia area.

Makes one wonder what they the Imaginers were thinking in the design phaze, of this new themepark.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on September 8, 2005 at 3:37 AM
Hong Kong Disneyland is much smaller that the usual Magic Kingdom because it is not completed yet. Space Mountain is the only roller coaster in the park. But Mickey's Philharmagic is at the Fantasyland. It will be a good 3-D. Also there is Winnie The Pooh ride. This is a good ride because they copy the Tokyo Version not the American version. The Tokyo version is the deluxe version because the ride is trackless. I don't know what is Liki Tikis, but the site says that you will be wet!
Autopia will opened in 2006 and Pirates of The Scaribbean will opened in 2010. Imagine that! Only 10 rides in 5 years?
Also what makes this park is so popular is because there is a contest for the children 8-13 to become a reporter at the Grand Opening of Hong Kong Disneyland. The winner has been announced yesterday and the winners are 3 females and 2 males.12,11,11,12 and 13.
From Russell Meyer on September 8, 2005 at 6:24 AM
I think part of the popularity of the park is basic intrigue. China is very interested in this park, since many Chinese people rarely have an opportunity to leave the country. Having a Disney park in their own backyard will spur a lot of interest. However, what eventually happen is that the word will spread that the park is small and overcrowded, and not worth the expense and the popularity will disipate after the inaugural season just like all of the other newer uncompleted Disney park.

Why can't these guys finish a park before they open it? Haven't they figured out that this doesn't work, and leads to more animosity than fanaticism?

From Robert OGrosky on September 8, 2005 at 10:52 AM
Its sad that disney hasnt learned anything in how to build new parks!! MGM/DCA/AK/Disney Paris MGM(Disney Sea being the one exception which was built by OLC and not disney) were all built as half day parks for full admission and now they have done the same DUMB thing.
I dont know ANYONE who would say that DCA hasnt turned out well, and if you look at recent photos from mouseplanet or miceage
While MGM has been built out more, the same cant be said about either AK/DCA . I guess the corporate model is keep screwing your guests for many years by giving them incomplete parks with a promise to build them out someday. And except for DCA the public has went along with this BS!
I dont know of ANYONE else who would say DCA has turned out well. And if you look at photos just taken of DCA on either mouseplanet or miceage of DCA during prime time hours and you can see jus how few people are in the park,
From Jason Lester on September 8, 2005 at 3:52 PM
Adriel, the American version is also trackless. I don't see how having a track or not would make the ride any better or worse. The point is that HKD 0nly has one E-ticket ride and 7 smaller ones. That's barely enough to fill half a day. Look at all the critiscism DCA gets for the exact same reason.
From Anthony Murphy on September 8, 2005 at 4:24 PM
Robert, I agree with you on alot of things, Hey! We are the midwest people on this site, but I completely disagree with you about DCA. I do not know what, but I have been to Disney World in FL alot more times than I would like to admit! Because of this, I have gotten used to Disney World and its function. I had the opportunity to go to CA this year so I went to both DL and DCA. My family and I LOVED DCA. We thought it was great! The only thing I did not like about DCA was their Tower of Terror. Other than that, I enjoyed it alot. Of course, they could have changed for the better this year, but I do not understand why this Park is so hated. I understand the AK problem. They should have waited for Asia, but that has gotten better. I really liked DCA because I thought it was different and fun! You are not the only one Robert who has made this claim, but I really liked DCA! Because of this site, I thought that DCA was terrible going onto the trip. Boy, was this site wrong in my opinion on this!
From Jason Lester on September 8, 2005 at 5:53 PM
It's your own opinion, but the majority of people I've spoken to do find DCA to be an awful park. It's cool the first time, but repeat trips always turn out to be complete bores. Last time I went, the park was completely empty. Explain that.
From Anthony Murphy on September 8, 2005 at 7:04 PM
You and I Jason, we like to disagree alot! Ha Ha Ha! Thats ok! It makes the conversation more interesting. I would find it hard to believe that it would be empty even if it was the worst park in the world! Its the 50th so it was crowded when I was there (both parks were) as it should. Disneyland is 50! Of course, you do have the advantage of being closer to DCA (I live in Chicago). You are probably right about repeat visits. I am quite the sentimentalist so I guess it is that opinion. Also, I find EPOCT interesting so the vineyard, tortilla, and bread making areas I find great! So it is my opinion I guess! Ill see how I feel the next time I go!

Great talking again Jason!

From Jason Lester on September 8, 2005 at 11:13 PM
LOL. Yeah, when I say empty, I don't mean it literally. It just wasn't very crowded. And yeah, as you pointed out, if someone was into the whole vineyard, break, etc. thing then I can say why DCA would appeal to them. It's not my idea of fun to watch bread being made and I'm not yet of legal drinking age, so that rules out the vineyard. However, as I said, it's all personal preference. I dislike DCA and you like it. Just a matter of opinion.

Nice talking again.

From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on September 9, 2005 at 5:03 AM
Well I don't know if the special train that goes to Disneyland will help in Hong Kong. 30,000 people in the park is a mess. The park will be opened at one p.m. Anyone in this site will go to the grand opening?
From Robert OGrosky on September 9, 2005 at 11:18 AM
There is not nearly enough things to do at DCA to make it worth a whole days visit or full price admission when compared to DL..
They need 4-5 major attractions to make the park worth the price of admission, and now with Screamin down its even worse.
And one thing i HATED was the spit guards on the drop tower!!!! I have been on drop rides all over the country and NEVER had to deal with those dumb guards.It ruins the experience.
From Anthony Murphy on September 9, 2005 at 12:35 PM
Its funny Jason, I thought you were much older than I am, but it seems that I might be older than you!
From Jason Lester on September 9, 2005 at 8:13 PM
I completely agree Robert.

Anyway, I probably am younger then you. If you're of drinking age, I'm younger.

From Anthony Murphy on September 10, 2005 at 8:38 AM
I am not even of the drinking age either!
From Jason Lester on September 10, 2005 at 11:47 AM
LOL! I've still got a bit of a ways to go until that.
From Adriel Tjokrosaputro on September 10, 2005 at 8:51 PM
The Two Towers drop ride is the best drop ride I've ever seen. It knocked down Tower Of Terror.
From Jayson Myers on September 12, 2005 at 10:30 AM
1) We (my wife and I) took a vacation to CA and enjoyed DCA, although I can understand why people complain about it. Not bad for a 2nd park, but I don't know if it would be fun all the time.

I love the rapids ride there (just below Popeye), Screamin' is good, I like M Madness and others. I see the flaws, but we had fun.

2) Pooh's Playland is not the break between Tomorrowland and F. Land. You have Autotopia (is this T.Land??), then Tea Cups (F. Land), then Winnie the Pooh "The Ride" (F. Land) and then Pooh's Playground (up and towards F.Land from Pooh). I actually got to see it this weekend (yesterday) and it was cute and my wife liked it a lot. It was just a playground and it seemed to be fun for kids.

A worker told me it was made out of recycled tires which made the sun reflect off it and made it hotter (not sure if this is true).

It was okay, a nice ride might have been better, but it was cute and quaint and the kids there seemed to like it.

From Jason Lester on September 14, 2005 at 10:05 PM
Recycled tires? The love just keeps pouring in for DCA.
From Chris Oatman on October 14, 2005 at 9:57 AM
Adriel & Jason, regarding the various versions of Winnie The Pooh. The Tokyo version is the only one to use the advanced GPS technology making it a truly trackless ride. It looks truly amazing from the videos I have seen as the vehicles dart around narrowly missing each other in a seemingly random fashion (I am sure it is not random, but the casual rider probably would not notice this.)
All other versions (including Hong Kong) run on a bus bar type of track like any traditional dark ride. I have ridden the Anaheim and Orlando versions and was unimpressed with both (although my 3 year-olds seem to enjoy it, and thats probably the age group they were going for with it anyway.) I just wanted to add a little clarification.
From Mister Wonder on November 25, 2005 at 9:34 AM
Are there no new Blogflumes anymore, what happened? They were my favorite part of the site.

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