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Hong Kong Disneyland to get $1.4 billion expansion

November 22, 2016, 9:20 AM · Updated throughout. The Walt Disney Company this morning announced a billion-dollar plus refurbishment and expansion plan for Hong Kong Disneyland.

Disney's original Chinese park has been dealing with an attendance slump, as travel to Hong Kong overall has suffered in recent years. In addition, Hong Kong Disneyland faces tough competition from nearby Ocean Park, the only theme park in the world that consistently beats a neighboring Disney park in annual attendance. Finally, this year's opening of Shanghai Disneyland has intensified the competition for visitors from the Chinese mainland.

With a series of improvements announced today, Disney is hoping to make its Hong Kong park a more attractive destination not just for visitors from the mainland, but from throughout the Asian market. The improvements include:

A new Frozen-themed Port of Arendelle land, located behind Fantasyland, to open in 2020. The land will include an Oakens Dancing Sleigh trackless ride. Tokyo DisneySea recently dropped a Frozen-themed "Port of Arendelle" from its expansion plans, so it appears that some of those concepts will make their way to Hong Kong, instead.

Oakens Dancing Sleigh
All concept art courtesy Disney.

A dedicated Marvel-themed area, extending from the park's Tomorrowland. A new Marvel shooter attraction will replace the Buzz Lightyear ride in 2018, with a second, much larger Avengers-themed attraction to follow in 2023. The Iron Man Experience will open in between these attractions in January 2017.

Marvel shooter ride

A new Moana theater in Adventureland, to open in 2018.

Adventureland Show Place

A newly-topped castle, extending its height from 77 feet, with an refurbished hub area, to support new day- and night-time castle-front shows. The castle and hub will be completed in 2019. If you look carefully, you can see the existing Disneyland-style Sleeping Beauty Castle at the bottom of this structure, revealing that it will be a re-top rather than a complete rebuild.

Sleeping Beauty Castle for 2019

Here is the site plan, courtesy Disney:

Hong Kong Disneyland 2016 site plan

The Walt Disney Company owns 47 percent of Hong Kong Disneyland, which is under majority ownership of the Hong Kong government. The cost of the scheduled improvements to the park will be US$1.4 billion.

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Replies (33)

November 22, 2016 at 9:33 AM · #thankshongkong
November 22, 2016 at 9:39 AM · Can't wait to see the comments here #ThanksHongKong...

Hong Kong is a great place to visit, and I'd strongly recommend it if you have the means. It already has some great unique Disney attractions, adding more only increases the incentive to go.

There's also a typo saying the Frozen area will open in 2010

November 22, 2016 at 10:04 AM · Having been there, I felt the castle was too little with all the Huge skyscrapers in the city. This will fix the size problem only if it really seems large enough. I'm surprised they won't yet fix Main Street. The American Main Street doesn't work in the former British colony. Make it Mary Poppins Lane.

I hope Frozen won't go to Shanghai for there is less reason to visit Hong Kong if both places get the same thing. Nonetheless, I think it's great that Arendelle is going there. May it go to Anaheim in the future.

Hints about what Marvel Land might be at DCA too.

November 23, 2016 at 8:47 AM · It's too bad Disney didn't just put their time and effort to fixing Hong Kong Disneyland, instead of building another Disney park/resort in a country that already has a struggling one. China is a big country, but I don't think there is enough demand for two Disney parks and resorts to be successful. China is a huge country with a huge population, but Disney is no where near popular enough to justify 2 different Disney resorts.

If Hong Kong Disneyland wasn't built, I think Shanghai would be doing a little better. It's far enough away from Disneyland Japan and Paris that it wouldn't cannibalize those resorts. But Hong Kong Disneyland is too close to Disneyland Japan, and now Shanghai. Next to Disney Studios Paris, Hong Kong is Disney's least successful park world wide. The expansion should help, but I think Asia has now has too many Disney parks/resorts for them all to ever be profitable. The best Disney can do is get Hong Kong to break even, and work on making Shanghai successful. Oriental Land Company has done a great job, and that probably won't change anytime soon.

November 22, 2016 at 10:26 AM · Looking at the map, is the area marked marvel attraction 2018 where buzz currently is?
November 22, 2016 at 3:30 PM · I'm wondering if with Disney's investment into China recently if there are other factors involved. China is now the 2nd largest movie box office globally, and rapidly expanding. They only allow a set number of foreign movies to screen annually, at their governments chosing. I'm curious as to whether part of Disneys Chinese development is to put them in a good standing with the Chinese government to allow more of their films to screen there. This may also help expand their profile in China to improve their movie's profitability.

It may be that the true profit of these parks can't be measured by ticket sales and merchandise sold in park, but by the overall success of Disney (as a whole) in this market. $700m (their half of this development) may be a small investment in expanding their overall identity in China, leading to much bigger returns in the box office and merchandising.

November 22, 2016 at 10:52 AM · This looks amazing but I'm disapointed that Disney is still ignoring Disneyland Paris Resort. Walt Disney Studios Park needs a TOTAL revamp.
November 22, 2016 at 11:34 AM · This is awesome news! I always looked at the satelite view of the park Nd felt it had a lot of room to expand, and now it seems to finally be happening. With as great as Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Poit are, I have little doubt that HK's new lands will be equally as impressive!

Never too early to start saving for another trip to Hong Kong!

November 22, 2016 at 11:54 AM · I guess with Shanghai open, Disney can start investing in other parks, I'm starting to change my opinion of Iger and Chapek. They've also announced upgrading Epcot, although it still remains to be seen what they're planning exactly.

It's embarrassing that Hong Kong Disney is outdone by Ocean Park, basically a family regional park. Wang, who declared war on Shanghai Disney, should team up with this group. Disney and Wang have boasted that they incorporate Chinese themes into their parks, but although Ocean Park has one Hong Kong themed area, it look more like an American carnival than Chinese themed.

I don't know how they're going to extend the castle, I guess they have to keep the small footprint, but here's hoping they can do a decent job.

One last comment, I don't know why they put the Jungle Cruise in basically the same waterway as the Rivers of America, the other Jungle Cruises are very intimate, and you feel like you're really in a dense jungle, Hong Kong's looks like the Mississippi River Jungle Cruise

November 22, 2016 at 3:49 PM · Throwing good money after bad. How long will Iger and Chapek be allowed to continue making terrible decisions? Disney shareholders need to wake up.
November 22, 2016 at 3:59 PM · This looks like a very good addition to Hong Kong Disneyland, and I'm glad to see Disney is adding completely different attractions to their two Chinese parks. Shanghai looks like the more impressive park, but particularly after this is built I think Hong Kong is probably the more complete park. Also, I could be wrong, but I've got a hunch the Frozen and Marvel attractions are likely very similar to what is going to be coming to the Disneyland Resort in California in the next five or so years.
November 22, 2016 at 4:53 PM · The Hong Kong Park press conference seems to indicate that Frozen will be a re skinned version of the Epcot Frozen attraction that replaced Maelstrom.
November 22, 2016 at 6:05 PM · Well, I hope they bring marvel land to Walt Disney Studios in Paris and California Adventure.
November 22, 2016 at 11:53 PM · They just can't stop throwing good money after bad...

Why can't they put this money towards regular maintenance of rides at the stateside parks? Ride breakdowns have reached near-epidemic proportions. Unlike Hong Kong Disneyland, the stateside parks are actually very popular and successful.

November 23, 2016 at 1:13 AM · RE: Randy Keith

The USA has only one quarter of the population of China but home to 2 Disney parks. IMHO, I think a population 4 times the size of the US can support more than two disney parks otherwise why would Wanda Media Group be planning to build over a dozen amusement parks in China in the future. China's amusement/theme park makrket is not saturated unlike the US market.

RE: Still a Fan

Because Disney is not footing the entire 1.4 billion price tag, they only have to pony up 658 million (47%) which is their equity stake in HK Disneyland. The HK Government (taxpayers) is picking up the other 53% which is 742 million.

Disney gets two lands built and they only pay less than half the cost.

November 23, 2016 at 7:49 AM · Yeowser, and they get less than half the profits too, assuming Hong Kong Disney ever makes a profit.

How much money has Disneyland Paris made? Disneyland Hong Kong? How much money does Shanghai Disney need to make to justify the $4 billion investment. Meanwhile, American parks are left to rot.

November 23, 2016 at 1:08 PM · Despite having four times the U.S. population, Disney's parks in China are still losing money. Unlike many chinese, people in the U.S. have disposable income -- not to mention the many people who fly into Orlando from all over the world.

Disney is acting like a gambler who can't stop plowing more and more money into a losing game, in the hopes that his luck will turn around. The stateside parks are a proven winning investment, but basic maintenance of rides is being neglected in the name of cutbacks (to pay for the bad foreign investments, and ESPN, I suppose). Every time a ride breaks down, that aggravates the crowding situation, and line ups -- not to mention aggravating loyal, repeat customers. There's a lot wrong with this picture.

November 23, 2016 at 10:20 PM · America's middle class is shrinking, disposable income is stagnant if not decreasing as as purchasing power

Whereas Asia's middle class is expanding and their disposable income is increasing.

China's middle class alone is the population of the USA and is still growing.

Granted their income per capita trails the developed countries but it's growing and that is what Disney, Universal and Six Flags sees.

The European and North American theme/amusement park market is saturated whereas Asia's is not.

Remember Hard Rock Park anyone? I still have my fingers cross for OWA in Alabama. Good luck to them.

November 23, 2016 at 11:22 PM · The stateside parks are packed, despite frequent price increases. The parks in China are still unsuccessful in comparison. MAYBE Disney will break even on these overseas investments in ten years?
November 24, 2016 at 12:14 AM · Multi billion investments don't break even or pay themselves off overnight, just ask Boeing or Airbus.

It's about establishing your brand presence and selling tons of merchandise in a country where most couples have only one child (many spoiled brats) and whose parents can spend lavishly fulfilling ever whim or want of their child.

November 24, 2016 at 9:23 AM · @Stillafan: you say Disney's Chinese parks are "still" losing money. Shanghai opened only six months ago. I don't really think "still losing money" is applicable to a park that is so new.

Something else I'd like to say is that China has two Disney parks. France has two Disney parks. Japan has two Disney parks.

So outside of America, I don't see the big deal. Now each foreign country has two parks (if you consider Hong Kong to be part of China, that is). Furthermore, China's two parks are not sister parks, as all of the others are. They're basically stand-alone parks, so to be worth a guest's time and money, they need to be up to par, and Hong Kong simply wasn't.

If you go to DLP, sure, Walt Disney Studios may be underwhelming, but you can easily go to Disneyland. If you go to Hong Kong Disneyland, and you find it inadequate...then what? Ocean Park?

Of course Hong Kong Disneyland needed this cash infusion, and expansion more desperately than any other.

November 24, 2016 at 10:49 AM · The bottom line: they're still pouring good money after bad in China, while cost cutting at their extremely successful American parks. That's completely ass-backwards, and shows contempt for their guests in Orlando and Anaheim.
HKDL opened in 2005, and is still a money loser. They tried again with Shanghai, and attendance is below expectations. Aside from Tokyo Disney (which was built, and is owned, by a different company), no foreign Disney park has known success. Their overseas record is abysmal, despite the cache of the Disney name and characters.
So what's their response? "Let's continue starving the stateside parks, and keep pouring in more money overseas." Back-asswards, indeed.
November 24, 2016 at 11:32 AM · Disney is cost cutting at their American parks, you say? Starving the stateside parks, you say?

If Star Wars Land (twice!) and Pandora (and Toy Story Land, which though not as grand as I'd like, sure beats Streets of America and the Backlot Tour) are considered cost-cutting and starving....I want to starve. Holy Canole!

What do you propose instead, StillAFan? Just let Hong Kong Disneyland wither and die? Close the park and concede the entire region to Ocean Park? While we're at it, let's just give up on Walt Disney Studios park in Paris, too. That sound good to you?

November 24, 2016 at 9:26 PM · Thanks Gabriel for your comments which I agree with.

Theme park companies are global companies and have or will have multiple properties world-wide all of which require constant capital investments.

Therefore these capital investments are spread out over their various properties globally and yes some will feel their home parks are getting the short end of the stick.

Whether it be Disney, Universal or Six Flags, they know that their future growth lie overseas in unsaturated markets not the saturated mature North American market.

Stateside parks are indeed packed despite constant price increases which offers them really little incentive to make major capital investments in them.

So they focus on investing in parks that are not at capacity.

Simple business 101.

November 24, 2016 at 11:29 PM · You and Gabriel are having quite a love-in. You two should get a room.

Yes they're building new lands, but they are skimping on basics like daily ride maintenance, which has resulted in frequent breakdowns. They are still in cost-cutting mode, which worsens the crowding situation. That is unacceptable.

Their future is overseas? Grim future, indeed. Their overseas record is one of hemmoraging money. You guys keep talking about the supposedly vast potential of a market like China. Yet, somehow, HKDL has managed to resist being a successful park for eleven years! Heck, with that much "potential" who needs something silly, like actual profits?

November 25, 2016 at 5:58 AM · Being in constant cost cutting mode is acceptable to Disney's board, its shareholders and wall street because that is whom IGER and CHAPEK ultimately answer to at the end of the day.

As long as the numbers look good, it does not matter to the above mentioned parties how that is achieved.

Also, Disney has been in cost cutting mode since the days of Eisner/Pressler so what they are doing now is really nothing new nor should it be a surprise to anyone.

As for actual profits, that is more of a concern for the majority owners of HKDL and SDL: the respective local governments and not the minority owner in WDC. The profitability of their Disney parks is not nor should it be a top priority for them, they have more pressing matters that need to be addressed.

Don't forget it was Eisner's idea to enter the China market not Iger's so if there is any finger pointing that one feels needs to be done, it should be in Eisner's direction.

November 25, 2016 at 10:57 AM · You should be on that board, because the way you're talking, the guests don't matter a damn...

November 25, 2016 at 2:08 PM · StillAFan, I feel like you're taking this personally. It's not personal.

Please don't resort to telling two people to "get a room". Let's keep this civil and professional.

Of course guests matter. It's just that this $1.4b investment may not matter to AMERICAN guests. Disney is a global company, and to focus on the U.S at the expense of an overseas property that could be called a failure up to this point, is not good for business.

Even with the recent additions of Mystic Point, Grizzly Gulch, and Toy Story Land (and Iron Man Experience), it is still the smallest of Disney's parks. And to think back in 2010, those lands didn't even exist? It's no wonder the park has not been successful.

There are only two real options for Disney to take. Either admit defeat, and throw in the towel, or decide they're going to make it a park worthy of guests time and money. They've obviously decided on the latter, and I'm very glad that they have. It's not like Disney is giving up on the American parks.

As was stated earlier, it's not like EPCOT (for example) is having attendance problems. We can grumble all we like about it not having a $1b refurbishment/expansion, but when it comes down to it, they're going to focus on the parks whose numbers aren't where they should be. With that in mind, you could even argue that EPCOT is two parks in one, with World Showcase and Future World. I've certainly gone to EPCOT through the International Gateway and not stepped foot in Future World - and had an awesome time. In fact, I've gone to World Showcase during Food & Wine, and not experienced a single traditional attraction, and had a blast. I can understand why Disney isn't in a rush to "fix" tomorrow's experimental community prototype.

Unlike Walt Disney Studios or California Adventure back in the day, there is no sister park for Disney guests in Hong Kong to go to. As I said before - you get a few hours in at Walt Disney Studios park and feel bored, you can go to Disneyland. You can't do that at Hong Kong Disneyland. It's much better with the recent expansions, but still not a full day park. And you know what that means? Less people staying at the on-site hotels. Less people eating at the restaurants.

Speaking of hotels, they are building a third on-site hotel right now, which only makes sense if they feel like more people will visit, and more people will only visit if the park is worth it. Which takes a lot of money, especially for a park as underdeveloped as HKDL.

Not to take this away from Hong Kong, but on the same note, I would imagine at some point in the future, they're going to decide Disneyland Paris being the third-most visited theme park in Europe is unacceptable. They're going to see the same problems at that resort that have plagued Hong Kong, and one of these days, you'll come to TPI, and the newest headline will be a $1b investment in Paris.

Again...please don't take it personal. It's not.

November 25, 2016 at 12:01 PM · @still a fan - As to your last comment... yes, the guests do matter. Including those in other continents. Therefore, Disney should put as much love into their parks as into yours.

Plus, the international parks expand the company's presence in these places, in multiple ways. That includes revenue from merchanise and movies, two very large sectors.

November 25, 2016 at 7:36 PM · To quote from You've got mail "it's not personal, it's business"

There are Disney Fans world wide and for some of them its very difficult if not impossible to get a US travel visa to visit the stateside parks, so Disney brings the parks to them.

Also, until more visitors to Disney parks state that they have had enough of Disney's cost cutting ways and take their businesss to Universal, Seaworld Parks, Six Flags, Cedar Fair etc, Disney will keep doing what it does because they know they can get away with it!

November 26, 2016 at 12:06 AM · If they hadn't wasted so much time, money and resources overseas (yes, wasted, since they're still losing money there), they could have maximized the potential of their U.S. parks instead of letting them be half day experiences for so long.

Earlier in this thread, you guys were saying that Disney would be crazy not to exploit the great potential of China, and now, since I've debunked those ideas, you're resorting to lame arguments like "oh well, the parks create publicity for Disney's movies", as if a bunch of billboards and ads wouldn't do the same thing, for a couple billion dollars less. The other one you're flogging is "don't the overseas fans deserve better parks", as if Disney was a charity and should keep pouring good money after bad.

What else could they do? They could sell the China parks. Of course, they shouldn't have built Shanghai in the first place.

The real slap in the face for visitors of the U.S. parks is the cost
cutting, causing a worsening of the crowding situation, because
Disney's blind greed has diverted $$$$ and resources away from where it is most needed: parks slammed by guests all year long.

I say blind greed because they just couldn't learn their lesson from the failure of HKDL. No, they just had to double down by building Shanghai DL, while pinching pennies in the U.S. And now that Shanghai is proving to be yet another money pit, they announce an expansion for HKDL. Another $1.4 billion dollars flying into a black hole, while they still act like Scrooge McDuck in the states.

As usual, they've got dollar signs in their eyes, and it leads to overreaching, overexpansion, and lousy decision making. That's not good business, and fans should definitely take it personally.

November 26, 2016 at 3:42 AM · Blind greed=Corporate America

There are more double the number of KFCs versus McDonald's in China

GM sells more cars there, the world's biggest auto market than it does in the USA.

Boeing will sell most of its planes they make in China.

These fortune 500 companies don't ignore China so why would theme park operators?

Disney, Universal and Six Flags would be foolish to ignore this country of 1.3 billion people, the world's second largest economy which will eventually unseat the USA as the largest economy in the world, not if but when.

As long as the US parks are slammed with people, there is little motivation for them to invest in them because Disney realizes that visitors will continue to pack DLR and WDW despite the penny pinching that Disney appears to do it's US properties.

Visitors need to stop coming in droves to DLR snd WDW before Disney will get serious about allocating resources to its US parks.

And by the way as minority owners of HKDL, Disney is only ponying up 658 million of the 1.4 billion expansion price tag. The HK government is picking up the rest.

As for just putting up billboards and ads in Hong Kong, obviously you have no idea just how expensive huge ad spaces in high traffic areas in Hong Kong are.

A giant billboard 365 days a year in a high traffic area in Hong Kong would approximately cost as much as cars land (not adjusted for inflation)

Finally, if you want a non people-packed Disney experience, then just pack your bags and visit an overseas Disneyland, you're more than welcome to.

November 26, 2016 at 11:26 AM · No, they would be foolish to continue plowing money into the Chinese market, since it has been nothing but a money pit for them. It's obvious that the demand is just not there, in that market, and a huge market doesn't mean that the average person can afford a day in the parks.

And if they insist on continuing with these overseas misadventures, they have no business doing it at the expense of the American parks. They have an obligation to do right by those parks; otherwise they are doing a disservice to their most loyal guests. Taking your customers for granted is terrible business.

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