Recently I have had a few people ask me what we are going to do when Shanghai Disney Resort opens.
This question is often followed by the comment “Hong Kong Disneyland will have to close because it won’t have visitors anymore.”.
I’m a little shocked by the totalitarian view that this region of Asia can not sustain more than one Disneyland.
Technically, Shanghai Disney Resort will be the 3rd Disney park complex in Asia. People seem to forget Tokyo Disneyland and DisneySea are also open and quietly plodding along happily … in Asia. However Shanghai will be the second Disney resort in China (Hong Kong is a special administrative region of China) and it will be three times the size of Hong Kong Disneyland.
From the rumours I have heard Shanghai will be quite different from all the other parks around the world. It won’t have a Main Street. It will have a completely different castle rising above as its centrepiece. It will focus on being a resort for the people of China and it will have a lot of Chinese themes weaved into it. Straight away this will distinguish it from all other Disney parks.
Shanghai can’t add any of the rides from Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch or Mystic Point for at least another 5 years (or so the rumours go), which in the short term will give people choice over which of the 2 Chinese parks to visit as well as giving Hong Kong breathing space to continue establishing their Disneyland with more unique attractions.
What is Hong Kong doing to improve its distinctiveness in the region? Hopefully the Iron Man Experience will open in time to breath new life into the Hong Kong Disney resort. With little else on the horizon publicly announced, a potential problem Hong Kong Disney will face is keeping the Magic Access pass locals engaged enough to maintain their continued support. Those of us with children who have grown up with Hong Kong Disneyland are now reaching those ages where Ocean Park is slowly becoming a viable option with more rides and diversity for older kids and nothing new to draw our kids back time and again to Disneyland.
In some ways Hong Kong having the smallest Disneyland may be advantageous to those with younger children or those who want a ‘cut down’ or ‘quieter’ Disneyland experience. However Hong Kong Disney will need to address how to alter their marketing strategy to reach out to the potential visitors in South East Asia and the Pacific as no one would deny they will loose mainland Chinese visitors. After all, wouldn’t you prefer to go to a land that requires no visas or international travel, and no need to follow the rules of another culture? The big question is how many of those mainland tourists, who seem to be the life blood of revenue for the park right now, will they loose to Shanghai when it opens?
Personally, I think the key to Hong Kong Disneyland remaining successful is to ensure it stays current and fresh. To ensure it has a solid plan for expansion and growth that will interest and engage Hong Kong residents and be unique enough that visitors from all over the world will have a reason to visit. Coming to a park where the parades, festivities and rides never evolve is a sure way to kill it.
I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t worried about Hong Kong Disney’s future given the lack of change and minimalistic effort being put into celebrations out there. I really hope there are some major surprises in store over the next year or two to really give Hong Kong the rejuvinative boost it sadly needs right now. It has been a place full of such fun and wonderful memory making for my children and I. I certainly hope it remains that way well into the future for my family and others…
What do you think the impact of Shanghai Disney will be on little old Hong Kong?