Twenty years on, the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has baffled theme park watchers around the world in its magnificent stride turning from a small half-day carbon copy of the 1955 Disneyland in California, to a unique, dazzling, spectacularly created and fashioned theme park, taking the magic and sparkle of Disney right into the heart of Hong Kong.
That is the opening paragraph of an article to be written in 2025, celebrating two decades of the world's fifth Disneyland park. Hopefully I will be writing it, it looks like I'm planning it in advance.
How will Hong Kong Disneyland Resort look in 2025? My version is very unrealistic, but I am being positive. From now on, I am back in 2025 journalist mode.
The Disney Group (The Walt Disney Company was absorbed into The Disney Group, a foundation owned by the remaining descendants of Walt and Roy O. Disney in 2009) have not failed in maintaining one of the world's finest theme parks. Main Street dazzles as you stroll on it's cobbled surface, walking past such original attractions as Great Moments with Mr. Bush, and a Victorian Haunted Mansion.
The laughter of children and the chatter of parents can be heard throughout the Chinese Magic Kingdom. Tomorrowland is the gem in the futuristic vision of The Disney Group, with Space Mountain being constantly updated with the latest technology every five years. It is the most lavished-upon land in Hong Kong Disneyland, and it really feels like a buzzing space hub. That does not mean the other lands are neglected although.
Fantasyland is constantly busy with visitors flocking to dark rides of the latest Disney classics. Streamlined elephants fly through the sky, based on the ancient Disney classic DUMBO. At night time, a show which costs two million US dollars a week to perform nightly is performed on Lilly's Lake, a man made water auditorium at the back of Fantasyland. Adventureland is by far the largest area of the park. Chocker block with attractions ranging from the classic Jungle River Cruise (one of the opening day attractions, now a world-famous crow mecca) to the ultra-cool Expedition Fuji, a trek to the peak of Japan's famed mountain via an expensive rollercoaster.
A land within a land, Mositika Bay sits on the west edge of Adventureland. Opened in last year as part of a well publicised refurbishment to the entire resort, it is a popular destination for foreigners visiting Hong Kong Disneyland where Epcot's World Showcase is given a new home - in a much more smaller and exotic format.
Outside of Hong Kong Disneyland park, Disney's Caribbean Twilight water park sits just off Disneyland Harbour - where the Asian arm of the Disney Cruise Line is headquartered. Themed on the internationally acclaimed Pirates of the Caribbean movie franchise - itself a child of the Disneyland attraction, yet to appear at Hong Kong Disneyland - it sends Asian guests on a tour around the Caribbean, courtesy of skeleton pirates. It constantly features in Top Ten lists of things to do in Hong Kong, sometimes overshadowing it's older, and bigger sister park.
Outside of the parks, there is so much to do in the resort. When docked for more than two days (rare), the Disney Sparkle cruise ship - which debuted in the European arm of Disney Cruise Line but was transferred when Disney Cruise Line Asia opened for business - is open for resort hotel guests to spend a few hours on board, utilising the ship's pools, cinema, bowling alley, bars and resturants for free, courtesy of The Disney Group, who purchased the remaining shares in Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (as well as Disneyland Resort Paris, Dubai Disneyland Resort and Melbourne Disneyland park - Tokyo Disney Resort was purchased from the Oriental Land Company by the McDonalds Corporation in 2007 and has since been reviled by Disney fans) in 2012 from other shareholders.
The Disneyland Hotel is one of Hong Kong's most luxurious hotels thanks to a huge facelift three years ago, and Disney's Hollywood Hotel, Disney's Fantasmic Hotel and Disney's Golden Sun Resort also litter the resort. Disney Vacation Club opened up offices five years ago with Disney's New York Star Resort.
Hopes were not high for the struggling theme park in 2005. The park was dismissed as built on the cheap by Walt Disney Company watchers and Hong Kong locals, but rose above the odds and has been constantly improved ever since. Together with resorts in the USA, France, the United Arab Emirates and Australia, The Disney Group has put the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort at the forefront of world tourism, and may the next twenty years be just as prosperous.
Speedway, Imagineer and Spokesperson for The Disney Group