Hong Kong Disneyland plans to complete its ambitious expansion project by 2013, a year earlier than originally planned.
The Hong Kong Economic Times has reported that the resort will open three new lands - one each in 2011, 2012 and 2013. The original plans called for the final land to open in 2014, ahead of a potential further expansion. However, this date has now been brought forward as Hong Kong Disneyland looks to boost its performance significantly.
Toy Story Playland will be the first new land to open, later in 2011. Inspired by the Pixar movie trilogy, its design will closely match that of the identically-named area that opened at the Disneyland Paris Resort's Walt Disney Studios in 2010. It will feature three new attractions themed around Toy Story Characters - RC Racer, Slinky Dog Zigzag Spin and Toy Soldiers Parachute drop. Details of the existing versions of these attractions at the French resort can be found in Theme Park Tourist's review of Toy Story Playland.
The other two lands will be Grizzly Gulch (due to open in 2012) and Mystic Point (due to open in 2013). Grizzly Gulch will feature a major new rollercoaster dubbed Big Grizzly Mountain, while Mystic Point will feature a new dark ride known as Mystic Manor.
The announcement of the accelerated expansion plan appears to have been designed to coincide with the expected announcement of further details of the planned Shanghai Disneyland resort on April 8, although Disney itself had already spoken of 2013 as the completion date. The company insists that the two resorts will serve different catchment areas, although concerns have been raised over the impact on attendance at the Hong Kong park. Visitors from mainland China currently account for 42% of Hong Kong Disneyland's attendance.
The report in the Hong Kong Economic Times claimed that talks had begun between Hong Kong Disneyland and its majority owner, the Hong Kong government, about an additional phase of expansion. However, the resort has since denied these reports.
Hong Kong Disneyland has performed below expectations since its opening in 2005, drawing unfavorable comparisons with Disneyland Paris - which has never rivalled the financial performance of the chain's U.S. parks. Currently Disney's smallest park, it plans to increase its size by 20% through the expansion. The Hong Kong government, which owns 57% of the park, hopes that the project will drive an increase in increase annual attendance from 4.5 million in 2009 to 8.4 million by 2015.
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