Went to HKDL this past week to check out their newest event at the park: Pirate Takeover.
The event takes place in Adventureland, now re-named Pirateland during this summertime promotion, in conjunction with the debut of the new POTC3 movie, At World's End.
Ok.. I went in with no expectations whatsoever, and concidering the abysmal low attendance problems they are having at HKDL, I expected little from this event. Therefore, what is there to do meet my expectations.
First up... many pirate-related props have been placed around Adventureland to add to the pirate feel and theme. Most of the props are actual 3d artifacts and little banners (like would be the way WDW would do this). I was impressed they took the time to add little things like cannons, Jolly roger flags, hidden treasures and the like to the entire area. Add to that the other costumes characters that make the magic come alive.. like Mirabella the gypsy girl or the dueling pirates teaching guests how to defend themselves and swordfight. ATT New Yorkers: this can be useful to you when riding the subways into the Bronx.
Many photo spots have also been erected for that timeless photo souvenir. Of course, I was even more impressed with the fact that most props are nicely lit up for nightime purposes and everything looks great in the evening hours. Too bad Adventureland is basically dead when the sun goes down..and not much is happening in that area at dusk.
I was also impressed that the show designers went out of the way to overlay the Tarzan Treehouse and Jungle Cruise ride in order to create an all-encompassing pirate takeover experience. The Jungle Cruise for example even has a new scene in which a live actor plays a pirate, who temporarely stops the cruise and threatens to hijack us.. It's a little interacive guest moment that as far as I know, is a first for any Jungle Cruise ride.
Guests can also participate in other activities.. like games of luck and treasure hunts.. in which guests recieve a gift if they complete. I got me this cool Pirate Mickey scarf as my hunt prize! Guests can also enjoy having their photo taken with Pirate Mickey, Goofy, Pluto, and Capt Hook.
Street entertainment can also be enjoy as the "Doctors of Voodoo" perform and pirates parade thru the land. The biggest disappointment was not being able to see a well recommended fire dance show, with fiery male performers... Apparently they were on their day off because this show didn't perform today.
All in all... it was a fun time at the Pirate Takeover.
As for the rest of the park... again.. crowds were none-existant. Everything was a walk on and I took advantage of that. Even rode some of the spinners and caught Philharmagic in it's lovely HKDL setting.
Some observations... IASW construction is progressing but now, they have placed covers so that guests exiting Golden Mickeys don't get much of an eyeful of what's going on in the backside of Fantasyland. Over at Pooh's ride.. a new prop has appeared in the ride... a "3, 2, 1 CHEESE!" prompt moment for you to smile when the camera takes your photo. Over in Tomorrowland, I noticed the kinetic lights at TL's entrance seemed to move and change colors and sequencing at a more active way, creating a constant eye candy experience as guests leave and enter the TL area..
In the shops... I noticed many new souvenir items for sale, but mostly new tee shirt designs and stuff like that, and some..recycled from other parks..with the HKDL name added to them.
As the nightime fell over HKDL, I took the time to walk around the park and take in the atmosphere. This place has it's many critics for being small or cheap..whatever, but the more I visit, the more I enjoy the surroundings and theming found here that even the ever popular MK at WDW does not offer. I don't care what most naysayers say.. but HKDL has great potential. It still has a LONG way to go in achieving greatness compared to DLP or DL or TDL... but the foundation is there for high quality experiences. I find great enjoyment in just walking the expansive walkways this very little park has to offer. Taking in the small details of things in Adventureland... enjoying the beautiful artistry of fantasia gardens of the sheer spectacle of the decor in the Royal Banquet Hall... or simply amusing myself looking at the colorful accent lights around Tomorrowland and Autopia. Everything I see is not TDS-like lavish, but it's presented in small samples that elevate the experience far above what some more established and popular Disney parks are offering their guests.
I am not blind to the problems but I see the promise of a nice outcome, IF and only IF Disney plays their cards well in light of the challenges.
Oh well... here are some photos from my Pirate Takeover visit... and I apologize most nightime shots came out a bit blurry as I didn't have my tripod to stabilize my camera still for those open lense shots. Hope you enjoy these pics!