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Breaking News! Massive Expansion and Rebuilding Project Coming to Hong Kong Disneyland!
DisneyDan  Tuesday, November 22, 2016 8:54:09 AM
Hello everyone,

In a bold and and virtually out of the blue announcement, Disney today announced a massive regeneration project for Hong Kong Disneyland.

The most shocking of all the details was by far the revelation of a brand new castle! Yes, you read that correctly - Sleeping Beauty Castle will be transformed into a towering structure, completely unlike what we see there today.

Instead of me paraphrasing everything, I am going to provide the full press release below, followed by the press images. Then I have some additional information from the New York Times, and finally I'll provide my thoughts on it all.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL) announced a multi-year development plan to take the park to a new level of excitement, leveraging some of the most beloved and successful franchises of The Walt Disney Company. Plans include new themed areas, attractions and entertainment, launching almost every year from 2018 through 2023.

Guests will experience Marvel and “Frozen” like never before as HKDL leverages the best of Disney to bring both these world-renowned franchises to life in their own immersive areas. The centerpiece of the park and the gateway to Fantasyland – the castle – will also be transformed to create spectacular entertainment experiences for guests.

“We are more excited than ever about the future of Hong Kong Disneyland,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We are bringing the best of The Walt Disney Company to this wonderful tourist destination, giving guests from around the world an experience only Disney can deliver and an experience they can only have with us at Hong Kong Disneyland.”

Some highlights of the new experiences that will delight Disney fans and guests from around the world include:

  • An epicenter of Marvel Super Heroes that will continue to unfold. From the launch of Iron Man Experience, the Marvel universe continues to grow at HKDL. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters will be reimagined into a brand new experience for guests to fight alongside the icons of the Marvel Universe. Further, another thrilling attraction dedicated to one of the most popular Marvel franchises will be added to expand the epicenter of Marvel Super Heroes as exciting events unfold in phases.

  • An exciting new “Frozen” themed area where characters and stories from the kingdom of Arendelle will come to life in ways guests have never experienced before at a Disney park. Guests will enjoy two new attractions and be immersed in Arendelle with uniquely themed dining, shopping, and entertainment.

  • A completely transformed Castle and Hub area to showcase brand new daytime and nighttime shows and entertainment offerings that will celebrate every prince and princess who ever wished upon a star and dared to follow a dream. An “Adventureland Show Place,” which invites guests to “Moana’s Village Festival” through a series of daytime entertainment offerings anchored around a lively stage show in a new interactive entertainment environment. In addition to experiencing live shows and immersive Disney storytelling, guests can meet Moana, heroine of the new Disney animated film that will be released globally starting November 2016.

The major development plans extend the excitement and amazing growth at HKDL, as the resort is set to open the eagerly anticipated Iron Man Experience officially on January 11, 2017 and the richly themed Disney Explorers Lodge resort hotel later in the first half of the year.

HKDL has continued to grow since its opening in 2005 and has broadened its appeal to families and young adults as well as diverse markets, including local, mainland China and overseas guests.

The three themed areas launched between 2011 and 2013, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point, have enhanced the park’s attractions and entertainment offerings and boosted the park’s attractiveness to different market segments. In 2013, Mystic Manor was awarded the prestigious Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement – Attraction, the equivalent of the Oscar in the theme park industry. In the following year, the nighttime parade “Disney Paint the Night” was launched and subsequently honored with a Thea Award.

In celebration of HKDL’s 10th Anniversary in 2015, the new stage show “Mickey and the Wondrous Book” and a new walk-through experience “Fairy Tale Forest” were introduced. This past summer, “Star Wars: Tomorrowland Takeover” presented attractions and offerings themed after another classic Disney franchise.

“The all-new developments will further reinforce HKDL’s position as a world-class tourist destination for everyone, including families and young adults, and help build lifelong memories across generations of families,” said Samuel Lau, executive vice president and managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland.

HKDL’s two shareholders – The Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong Government – have agreed on the development plans, subject to funding approval by the Company’s Board of Directors and Legislative Council for their respective share of investment.

Disney have thus far provided the following concept images for the brand new areas:




















All images (C) The Walt Disney Company and their associates.

There are some very interesting things in these images, which I'll discuss in a moment, but first I also want to direct your attention to a New York Times article from today that states (according to them, at least), that the new castle will stand 197 feet tall, versus the current 77 feet, and will be the tallest Disney castle in the world upon completion. They also suggest that the cost of the park's regeneration will be around $1.4 billion.

So with that in mind, what does all this mean? To be absolutely clear, everything from here on is my own opinion.

First of all, the new hub area is going to be very neat, and clearly they are going for something akin to the area in front of Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland. However, having been to Hong Kong multiple times, and looking at this concept art, it will be very interesting to see how they are going to fit this in exactly. Even if they manage to make it look like the concept art, it'll be very small. I doubt the seating area capacity will be very high at all.

The castle itself is a mixed one for me. Ultimately, it is definitely a good thing that they are making such massive improvements. However, in my opinion, it's a real shame that they have lost such confidence in their own brand that they would go to such lengths. Nothing like this has ever been done before, and it really shows that they are admitting their mistakes. Why didn't they just spend the money to make it awesome in the first place?

The castle show images are also interesting because they give us a glimpse of who we might come to expect in the new performances there. There are two character based images - one that depicts the daytime and one depicting the nighttime. Why these images show us what appears to be two different shows, with two different sets of characters, is not made clear at this point, and I don't think we should read anything into who we see in the images until Disney themselves know exactly what they are doing. However, it is interesting to note the presence of characters such as the Cheshire Cat and Br'er Bear.

The Marvel area looks utterly epic, with the new hangar looking building completely swallowing Autopia and transforming the face of Tomorrowland altogether. Replacing Buzz Lightyear is a smart move, especially since there is one in every park, and the nearby Shanghai has the far superior newer version.

The Moana area is cute, and doesn't appear to envelop anything existing, except perhaps a small water area and some trees. It's a smart move to have an area dedicated to her, and we look forward to seeing it.

The Frozen area looks really nice, and while Frozen is used on overkill these days, I actually have hope that they'll do a real good job of it, looking at the pictures we have so far. Of course, the Oaken's Dancing Sleigh Ride looks completely adorable!

Finally, the it was inevitable that with a brand new castle will come a new nighttime spectacular. Disney seem to be upping their game on nighttime spectaculars all the time, so by the time the new castle is completed, hopefully we see something really awesome there!

Despite some of my slight criticisms (mainly the workability of the hub, and them losing faith in an iconic Disney castle), I am very excited for all these changes. Hong Kong Disneyland is a beautiful park already, and I constantly sing its praises here on the blog and to every Disney fan I meet. Looking around the internet today, though, I see that there is a lot of resentment swirling around already, and, right or wrong, I think that the following perfectly sums up how a lot of people feel.

To rebuild an iconic Disney castle is unprecedented, and virtually unthinkable. Some may say that this investment is just what the park needs - and to a degree they are right. However, perhaps what the park needed was a little love and investment from the beginning though, and not being sold out for a bigger, better park just a few hundred miles away in Shanghai. A couple billion dollars later, and perhaps Disney have realised that money should have gone to Hong Kong in the first place.

Now fans can blame Shanghai even more for US cutbacks... but at least Hong Kong will be pretty, right?

What do you think?

Have a great day everyone,

Dan.
Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report, November-December 2015 - Part Two
DisneyDan  Monday, January 4, 2016 2:46:53 PM
Hello everyone,

In the first part of this report, I shared our adventures at the Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) hotels, resort esplanade area and train, Main Street USA, Flights of Fantasy Parade, Disney Paint the Night Parade, the Disney in the Stars Fireworks, and the Frozen Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

  [ Read More... ]
Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report, November-December 2015 - Part One
DisneyDan  Tuesday, December 29, 2015 11:32:56 AM
Hello everyone,

At the end of November Jon and I travelled to Asia for a multi-stop trip to Tokyo and Hong Kong. We started in Hong Kong, flew to Japan, then flew back to Hong Kong before coming back home. In this part of my report on our travels, I will be sharing with you our adventures at Hong Kong Disneyland on both ends of the trip, which ended up stretching from the end of November, until the first week of December. I am actually going to break up this Hong Kong Disneyland report into several smaller parts, as it will be quite long. Here, in part one, I'll talk about the resort overall, resort hotels, and Main Street USA (including characters and entertainment on Main Street).

During the first part of our stay, we actually stayed in a hotel in the city, and used the opportunity to visit various places in the city. You can read my report for that, which I published this week, on my Two Lost Boys blog, here. On the second part of our stay in Hong Kong we stayed on site at Disney's Hollywood Hotel. Between the two ends of the trip, we ended up having a total of four days at the resort and in the park.

Rather than jump around, telling you everything in the random order in which we did them, I'm going to group different themes together to keep everything organised and less confused.
  [ Read More... ]
NEWS - Goodbye Halloween at DLR, WDW to FINALLY welcome Olaf and a new Villains show, Christmas at DLP and MUCH more!
DisneyDan  Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:57:59 AM
Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I have had chance to make a full news post here on the blog, but today I thought it would be nice to finally share some of the things we have learned recently.

Let's start with Disneyland Resort in California,   [ Read More... ]
A Grand Circle Tour of the Magic Kingdoms of the World: Part 4 - The Kingdom of Dreams and Magic
DisneyDan  Thursday, February 19, 2015 4:02:20 PM
Hello everyone,

Welcome to part four of my grand circle tour of the Magic Kingdoms of the world. In this part we will take an in-depth look at Fantasyland. In case you missed the previous three parts of this tour, you can find them here:


This article features many photos, so be prepared if you are on a slower internet connection. This is going to be the longest of any of the parts in this tour, since Fantasyland at all the parks contains the highest number of attractions and other experiences, compared to any other land.
  [ Read More... ]
News From Around the World - 24 hour event at the US Parks, Disney On Ice announce new Frozen show, new HKDL night parade and MUCH more!
DisneyDan  Tuesday, May 20, 2014 1:03:12 PM
Hello everyone,

First of all, apologies for being absent recently, we have had a lot going on here (real life) and so I haven't had chance to keep as up to date as I would like. Anyway, there are some cool new things I want to talk about today.

First of all the big event of the week will be the 24 hour event, "Rock Your Disney Side", coming to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom and both Disneyland Resort theme parks on Friday this week (23rd).
Details are a bit sketchy right now though, sadly, as Disney seem to want to keep tight-lipped about which characters will appear, when and where. Of course, this doesn't make planning easy, especially since it is likely to be exceptionally busy like the previous events!

I have highlighted below some of the key moments (mainly character experiences) for Disneyland Resort, as per the Disney Parks Blog:

Event operating hours: 6 a.m May 23rd until 6 a.m May 24th.

At Disneyland Park:


At Disney California Adventure Park:


In terms of characters, that's pretty much all that has been announced for DLR, sadly. Of course everyone anticipates that there will be a lot of characters out and about, and there is speculation floating around that some characters - villains in particular - may replace the princesses at Royal Hall, but that has not been confirmed publicly by Disney yet.

Over in Walt Disney World, the Disney Parks Blog reported the following (again, I've only highlighted the important moments and character experiences):

Event operating hours: 6 a.m May 23rd until 6 am May 24th.

  • Everything kicks off with a special edition of the Welcome Show, as heroes and villains make their way to Magic Kingdom Park.
  • The Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party will feature Disney heroes at 10 a.m and Disney villains at 1:30 p.m. When it comes to the 5:45 p.m. performance, though, exactly who makes an appearance will be determined by your votes throughout the day! (More information on how you can vote will be posted on Friday morning on the Disney Parks Blog).
  • Magic Kingdom Park parades will each have two performances. “Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade” will be at 12 p.m and 3:30 p.m, and Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade at 11 p.m and 1 a.m.
  • Wishes Nighttime Spectacular fireworks at 9 p.m
  • Prior to each presentation of Disney’s Main Street Electrical Parade, the Disney villains roll through Magic Kingdom Park in a pre-parade, celebrating how “It’s Good to Be Bad!”
  • Starting at 11 p.m half of Princess Fairytale Hall becomes Scary Tale Hall, where you can meet Maleficent and the Queen. The other side of the hall will still feature favourite royals Anna and Elsa.
  • Around 1:45 a.m, the villains will take over the rest of the park’s character greeting locations. Where Aladdin and Jasmine appear in Adventureland during the day, expect to find Jafar. Dr. Facilier takes the place of Princess Tiana in Liberty Square, Captain Hook replaces Peter Pan in Fantasyland, and more!
  • In Tomorrowland, the INCREDIBLES Super Dance Party rocks the Rockettower Plaza Stage from 4:30 p.m – 10 p.m, and is expected to feature characters from 'The Incredibles'.
  • Disney’s “Up All Night” Dance Party at Cinderella Castle and the Frontierland Dance Party will run from 2 a.m – 5:45 a.m, and may (or may not...) feature Disney characters (no official confirmation, yet)
  • The event concludes with a special “Kiss Goodnight” at 5:50 a.m at the Railroad Station in Town Square on Main Street, U.S.A.

The Move It Shake It heroes line up is likely to include Hercules, who has been seen out and about at EPCOT the past few weeks in preparation for his starring role in this event!

It should be noted that for both WDW and DLR there were more things announced such as bands, food and merchandise, which you can find out about if you search the Disney Parks Blog. Here at Character Central our main focus is of course characters!

Staying with Walt Disney World, and this year's Star Wars Weekends Celebrity Welcome and Motorcade saw the debut of
three new characters to the Disney Parks! Sabine, Ezra and a grumpy droid named Chopper have all landed on Earth for the special weekends this year, from their new Star Wars TV show, 'Star Wars Rebels'.
Check out this video below from Attractions Magazine, which features the new characters in the Motorcade!



At the Magic Kingdom, Tinker Bell and her fairy friends have left the Nook in Adventureland, and sadly all the fairies have now left Florida and are heading back to Pixie Hollow. Tinker Bell has found a new home at Town Square Theatre on Main Street USA, filling the empty space left by the princesses when they moved into the new Fairytale Hall. Other recent character changes in Walt Disney World include the Pooh characters leaving Animal Kingdom, and Donald and Daisy replacing them - just in regular outfits, sadly (I wonder what happened to their special DAK costumes from when they met in Camp Minnie-Mickey?).

Taking the heat off the summer at Disneyland Park in California, the Disney Parks Blog announced the other day that Anna and Elsa from the ever-popular Frozen will feature in a brand new pre-parade addition to Soundsational. At the moment no other details are known except they will feature from "mid-June".

Keeping with Frozen, and the big news this week was that there will be a brand new Disney On Ice show this autumn featuring the characters from Frozen! You may recall that I actually reported about this way back in January, when I even suggested that characters such as Olaf and Sven would appear, and now it has come true! The video below was posted by Disney On Ice and shows some great concept art for the new show.



The description on the Disney On Ice website also specifically mentions Olaf, Kristoff, Sven and the magical trolls, leading us to believe they will all feature in the new show!

Finally for news, and Hong Kong Disneyland finally announced today that their new nighttime parade will debut in October, ending long running speculation that it would start in the autumn. The brand new electric light parade will use innovative new technology and will be interactive, too, whereby guests can use a mobile app to control the colour changes on the floats!

Don't forget that Disney's Swing into Spring season continues at Disneyland Paris until the 22nd June, and features a fabulous new show-parade, characters and other offerings. You can read my review of it here, and visit our dedicated guidebook page to it here.

You can also continue to meet Spider-man at Disneyland Paris until the 10th July. The Walt Disney Studios is the only place in the world you can currently meet the webbed hero! You can read my review of our meeting with him here, and visit our dedicated location page here for more photos and information.

Finally, don't forget that the Halloween and Christmas party dates for WDW were released less than two weeks ago. You can check all the dates on my previous blog post, here.

Ok, that's everything for today,

Dan.
Advent Calendar - 1st December
DisneyDan  Sunday, December 1, 2013 7:38:51 AM
Today is the first day of December, which means it is time to open the very first door of our very special Character Central Advent Calendar for 2013!

Click to see who is behind today's door!

  [ Read More... ]
News - Frozen Characters coming to the US and Paris, and Iron Man coming to HKDL
DisneyDan  Wednesday, October 9, 2013 2:16:09 PM
Hello everyone,

This week the Disney Parks Blog revealed the first image of Anna and Elsa from Disney's next animated feature, Frozen which is due out this winter.
Starting from an as-of-yet unspecified date in November, the new stars will greet fans at Disneyland Park in California, and at Norway in Epcot at Walt Disney World.
Over in Disneyland Paris, Anna and Elsa will debut aboard the newly redesigned Dreams of Romance float, alongside Rapunzel and Flynn. Rapunzel remains on the swing, as with the previous version of the float - it's the front half that's changed to accommodate Anna and Elsa, meaning the loss of Ariel and Eric. I have heard that there was a picture of the new float posted in the latest annual passholder magazine, Envie+, but I as of yet have not received my copy (DLP are notoriously bad about sending them out!).
Disneyland Paris have not yet confirmed whether Anna and Elsa will also be greeting fans, but rumour has it that they might appear randomly. If I find out more, I'll be sure to post it here.

The Parks Blog also announced that coming in 'late 2016' Hong Kong Disneyland would get an Iron Man themed e-ticket attraction in Tomorrowland, along with a meet 'n' greet for Tony Stark's alter ego himself.
It is the first time that Disney have confirmed that a Marvel attraction will be built inside a theme park, and the second time they have announced a Marvel meet 'n' greet for a theme park - the first being Thor for Disneyland (CA) this winter.

Ok, that's all for this evening. Jon and I will be at Disneyland Paris to celebrate Halloween Season this weekend, so be sure to follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for all the latest live updates from the parks!

Dan.
Happy 8th Birthday Hong Kong Disneyland!
DisneyDan  Thursday, September 12, 2013 12:24:09 PM
On this day 8 years ago, Disney's first theme park and resort in China opened its gates for the first time, in the city of Hong Kong!

Since opening day, Hong Kong Disneyland has had many new additions, from "it's a small world", Autopia, to three entire new lands - Grizzly Gulch, Toy Story Land and Mystic point. The resort also features two stunning hotels; Disney's Hollywood hotel and the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.

The amazingly friendly and thoughtful Cast Members, fabulous entertainment, unique merchandise, beautiful landscape, and its setting at the foot of stunning mountains next to the sea, make Hong Kong Disneyland practically perfect in every way.

So, let's celebrate in our usual style, with a cavalcade of pictures from our adventures at Hong Kong Disneyland over the years!

Happy 8th Birthday Hong Kong Disneyland Resort!

Sleeping Beauty Castle

Tomorrowland by night

Mystic Point Preview event

"it's a small world"

Tomorrowland by night

Main Street USA by night

Grizzly Gulch Chip n Dale

Mystic Point Preview event

Tomorrowland by night

Grizzly Gulch by night

"it's a small world"

Toy Story Land

Muppet's Mobile Lab

Wandering down Main Street USA

Wandering thru Grizzly Gulch

Wandering down Main Street USA

Wandering thru Grizzly Gulch

The Golden Mickeys

Wandering around the HK Disneyland Hotel

Wandering around the HK Disneyland Hotel

Wandering around the grounds

Wandering around the grounds

Wandering around the grounds

Meeting Halloween Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Glow in the Park Parade

If anyone is planning a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland, why not check out our awesome, dedicated Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Planner!

Dan.
News and Rumours from Around the World: Fantasy Faire opens, Greek event featuring Hercules at DLR, DLP Parade changes and much more!
DisneyDan  Thursday, March 14, 2013 3:43:01 PM
Hello everyone,

This week has actually been quite a news filled week for a change!

Disneyland Resort in California has been at the forefront of most of the news, so let's start there.
On the 12th March, the brand new Fantasy Faire area officially opened to all guests. We have all talked about this a lot recently, but now it's officially open, and it seems to be really popular. Disneyland did an excellent job of it, and we can't wait to see it it in May!

The Disney Parks Blog also announced that the new Mickey and the Magical Map show at the Fantasyland Theatre will debut on May 25th. We will miss this by a few days, sadly, but plan to be back in DL in the summer, so we cannot wait to see it! Much to my happiness, it sounds like it will have Stitch in it too!

Today, the Disney Parks Blog also randomly announced that there would be a brand new 3 day event in late May (25-27) that will be Greek themed!
Apparently it will feature entertainment at both parks at the Resort, including one in DL that will feature Hercules! Hercules is a very rare character indeed, and it will be the first time outside of Tokyo DisneySea that he has met guests in a very long time.

Over in WDW, not strictly character related, but worth a mention; the design for this year's Star Wars Weekends logo has been released, which features Chip and Dale as Ewoks - my favourite Star Wars characters! We hope to be able to attend SWW this year, and so we look forward to seeing which characters will be out... Maybe even Ewok Chip and Dale? Of course that's my own speculation, but that would be very cool indeed!

I can't remember if I mentioned this previously, so I'll mention this again... Hong Kong Disneyland have confirmed further expansions beyond Mystic Point, which opens in May. A bone of contention with many fans, but nonetheless, for the first time a Marvel area will find its way into a Disney Park! Which might even mean characters!
There will also be a new "nighttime" parade, although details were sketchy, we can hope that it'll be an electrical parade? Again, that'll bring more characters to the park, even if it is just for a parade.
Whilst I mention Mystic Point, HKDL are pretty good with their themed characters, and having characters in special outfits in the different lands, which makes me wonder who might appear once Mystic Point opens in May? I guess we'll find out soon enough!

Speaking of Marvel characters, and wondering if they'll show up in HKDL, there is one place they definitely will. Feld Entertainment, the company that produces the Disney On Ice shows and Disney Live shows have announced that they will be creating a brand new Marvel show! From July 2014 it will start out on a big US tour, which will then make its way around the world.

At Disneyland Paris, we have heard from various contacts that for the 20th Anniversary Extension (which runs past the end of April, through to the end of September this year), will include some minor day parade changes. Tiana and Naveen are likely to be replaced with Belle and Prince Adam, and Pluto will finally return to the day parade, having been absent since last year. He will now walk in front of the Mickey and Friends finale float, with Goofy who is being demoted down from the float to the ground.
I have also heard that the music will be altered slightly, but from September (not April), but I have yet to get proper confirmation of this. I'll let you all know when I hear for sure.

Finally, here at Character Central we launched the first of our brand new Trip Planners. Covering pretty much anything you could possibly imagine about planning a trip, and tips and advice for while you're on your trip (complete with tons of useful links), the new Planners are an EXCELLENT resource, and we are proud to say that they are the first of their kind anywhere! The first one is for Tokyo Disney Resort, and we will gradually be adding the other Disney Parks, with Hong Kong being the next one, hopefully in the next week to ten days. So check it out and let us know what you think!

Ok, I think that's everything for now,

Dan.
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