Entertainment in 2009, speculation has been rife as to which theme park would host the first Marvel Comics themed land – Anaheim? Orlando? Paris? Tokyo? Would you believe Hong Kong?
Disney World in Orlando, Florida, was out of the question. Universal Studios had exclusive rights to Marvel Comic’s Super Heroes in the Sunshine State. That left Anaheim, home to the original Disneyland in Southern California, which opened in 1955, and the parks in France, Hong Kong, and Japan.
Shanghai Disneyland to Open in 2015
But what about China? Shanghai Disneyland is scheduled to open in 2015. That would seem like a logical spot to start – why not open a new park with an exclusive new attraction?
Super Hero flicks have been a massive box office success in China. The Avengers was the fourth most popular motion picture of 2012 and The Amazing Spiderman came in 10th.
Soon to be released, Iron Man 3, meanwhile, is a joint venture between between US based Marvel and a Chinese production company, DMG Entertainment.
What’s more, the film was shot partially in Beijing, and two Chinese actors – Wang Xueqi and Fan Bingbing – are members of the cast. Shanghai Disneyland would seem like a no brainer.
Asia’s World City?
There was a deep sense of pride in Hong Kong when it was announced that the Hong Kong Government has reached an agreement with Disney to build a theme part in the former British Crown Colony, the second in Asia after Tokyo. It was front page headlines in both the English and Chinese language media for days – if not weeks.
Coming as it did shortly after Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty, it seemed like vindication that Hong Kong really was Asia’s World City after all.
That pride turned to embarrassment, however, when it transpired that Hong Kong Disneyland would be the world’s smallest Disney theme park. And then, not long after the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, there was a second – and more lethal – blow: a second Chinese Disneyland would be built in Shanghai – China’s largest city.
Hong Kong’s coup had turned into a massive loss of face. The park in Shanghai’s Pudong district would be fully three times larger than Hong Kong Disneyland. Oops …
Collective Sigh of Relief?
So I can’t help but believe that there must have been a collective sigh of relief within the offices of the Hong Kong Government and the Hong Kong Tourism Board when this deal was sealed.
Two years after Shanghai Disneyland opens in 2015, there will still be a reason for mainland tourists to visit Hong Kong Disneyland.
The Hong Kong Government holds a 52% share in Hong Kong Disneyland. The theme park turned its first annual profit last year.
I just hope that THIS time Disney does Hong Kong proud and builds something substantial – a full fledged Super Hero Land and not just a side show such as Grizzly Gulch and Toy Store Playland, which have opened over the last couple of years.
Spiderman, Iron Man, and other Marvel Heroes are likely to find favour with an older and wealthier Chinese demographic than such cartoon characters as Peter Pan, Cinderella, and Snow White, which simply don’t have the same cultural relevance.