Hong Kong Disneyland is slated to receive a massive, multi-year expansion between now and late 2023, which includes the replacement of Sleeping Beauty Castle, plus Marvel rides and World of Frozen. These additions are projected to cost $1.4 billion. (Updated May 16, 2023.)
This was first announced over 5 years ago, and much of it has now debuted. The new Castle of Magical Dreams debuted almost two years ago, but has yet to be experienced by guests from outside of Hong Kong due to border closures. Similarly, the daytime show “Follow Your Dreams” and nighttime spectacular “Momentous” are big additions to the entertainment lineup at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Prior to this, Marvel attractions debuted at Hong Kong Disneyland. Tomorrowland is now home to Stark Expo, which currently includes the Iron Man Experience simulator and Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! The former is a simulator very similar to Star Tours, whereas the latter is a shooter attraction that reimagined Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters. At some point in the future, Autopia might be replaced by an Avengers Quinjet E-Ticket.
We say “might’ about the Avengers E-Ticket because Hong Kong Disneyland hasn’t mentioned it in a long time. The last few years have been brutal on the park, which has endured multiple closures and reopenings, reduced capacity, and strict border closure measures that have significantly reduced its attendance.
Even pre-closure, Hong Kong Disneyland was struggling. Its position as a global hub had been diminished due to incursions by China as that country attempts a hostile takeover of Hong Kong. Sadly, China has largely been successful, with increasing interference from mainland China in Hong Kong have resulted in protests and hostility, while negatively impacting tourism.
As such, it’s entirely possible that the Avengers Quinjet attraction never gets off the ground. The projects currently underway might be the last major investments by Disney in Hong Kong Disneyland for a long time. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the latest updates on the HKDL expansion…
To commemorate the 17th anniversary celebration at Hong Kong Disneyland, a new line-up of exciting events is planned for 2023!
Michael Moriarty, managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, said: “2023 will bring to guests magic and surprises like never before as we celebrate having grown and evolved across 17 fantastic years so far. Join in as we celebrate 100 Years of Wonder with Mickey and Friends and our cast members in a year of many firsts, with the World of Frozen opening in the second half of 2023, a brand-new Duffy and Friends-themed experience, and our very own Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue on the way! The excitement will be set to one hundred in 2023!”
The year 2023 marks the 100th anniversary celebration of The Walt Disney Company, which was founded in 1923. This memorable milestone will include spectacular events from Lunar New Year to Halloween to Christmas and more.
It’ll also feature appearances from fan-favorite characters like Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, Goofy, Pluto, Chip ‘n’ Dale in all-new 100th anniversary outfits. Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, one of Walt Disney’s original cartoon creations, will be making his debut in the park at long last too!
Hong Kong Disneyland will unveil a new statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse near Cinderella Carousel as part of Disney’s 100th anniversary celebration. This pays tribute to how Walt Disney famously conceived the idea for Disneyland while sitting on a bench in Griffith Park in Los Angeles. On this bench, Walt sat and waited while his daughters rode the merry-go-round.
Walt later said, “Disneyland really began when my two daughters were very young. Saturday was always Daddy’s Day and I would take them to the merry-go-round and sit on a bench eating peanuts while they rode. And sitting there alone, I felt there should be something built, some kind of family park, where parents and children could have fun together.” And that was the seed that planted the idea of Disneyland in Walt Disney’s mind.
While I’ve been a bit cynical when it comes to the current company’s use of Walt Disney as a corporate mascot and way to shield itself from criticism, I love this. It’s a thoughtful idea and lovingly pays tribute to the genesis of the Disney theme parks. It’s also practical–a bench makes for easy photo ops with guests. Here’s hoping this ends up at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. (It would certainly be better than the Dreamers Point statue coming to EPCOT!)
World of Frozen–the first highly immersive Frozen-themed land inspired by the Walt Disney Animation Studios hit films–is coming to Hong Kong Disneyland in November 2023. In this new land, guests will be able to visit the kingdom of Arendelle and be fully immersed in all its sights, sounds, cuisines, and traditions, as seen in the all-time favorite movies.
World of Frozen will be home to two exciting attractions: the first Frozen-themed coaster, Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, where guests will embark on a scenic ride designed and built by Wandering Oaken and powered by his buddies Olaf and Sven, as they work together to pull the sleds to the top of the lift hill; and Frozen Ever After, the attraction where guests are invited to go on a whimsical journey to visit Elsa’s Ice Palace on the special occasion of “Summer Snow Day” and meet all their beloved friends from Frozen.
In addition to the long-awaited World of Frozen, more of everyone’s favorite Disney stories will come to life with the launch of 100 Years of Wonder in an immersive way guests can only experience at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Beloved Characters from various Disney stories will appear in a series of events during the centenary celebrations. A brand-new immersive Duffy and Friends-themed experience will magically transport guests into the world of Duffy and all his friends at Plaza Grounds in the coming spring.
In May, Marvel fans will be surprised by a series of Heroic Encounters. More Disney and Pixar friends also await guests with a series of summer surprises. For fans looking for some spooky excitement, the only thing to do is join in on the wicked fun with a terribly delightful line-up of Disney Villains during Disney Halloween Time.
Get ready for more magical surprises as Hong Kong Disneyland brings more Disney franchises to life in 2023 and make the resort the best gathering place ever for Disney fans!
Overall, I guess you could say I’m cautiously optimistic about these plans. While I would love to see Hong Kong Disneyland remain the quaint, peaceful park, that’s completely unrealistic. The concept art for the castle does have me worried a bit, but the rest of the plans hold a good deal of promise. The park has been hemorrhaging guests this year, and staying on the current trajectory–particularly while nearly doubling their room inventory–was simply not viable.
This plan is demonstrative of TWDC’s and HKSAR’s dedication to the park as a going concern. It’s definitely good to see that Hong Kong Disneyland hasn’t simply been forgotten now that Shanghai Disneyland is open. Based on these plans, it also seems likely that Disney will expand both HKDL and SDL in ways that keep each park distinct, so regional guests feel compelled to visit both. While we are certainly not the target audience for these parks, we are unintended beneficiaries of this philosophy. Even if you don’t have any interest in the Asia parks, this also might function as a window into what Disneyland Resort will build in the decade after Star Wars Land.
What do you think of the Castle of Magical Dreams or World of Frozen? Excited about these additions? If you’ve visited the park, what do you like to do most at Hong Kong Disneyland? Any tips of your own for exploring HKDL? If you’ve never been to Hong Kong, what interests you most about the park? Anything else to add? Any questions? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!