Yesterday was a lovely day in Orlando and I headed out to EPCOT to check out the new HKDL Preview Center in China.
Along the way, I got a chance to preview a little bit of the new gardens for the upcoming Flower Festival this April 15th (on TDL's 22nd aniversary Also was hoping to go on 'Soarin' but it was at that time close, so no soaring for me today...
After checking out and drooling over the lovely new "Happiest Celebration" merchandise now on sale at MouseGear (and later finding it again at DTD's WOD where I dropped a ridiculous amount of money on these new collectibles and getting my puny 10% AP discount, thank you very much WDW), I finally made my way to China, enjoying the cool breeze and late afternoon Sun on my way there.
One thing I noticed first and foremost is the lack of a sign outside China advertizing this new exhibit. The front chinese archway is under rehab so it doesn't help that the entire front of the pavillion is blocked off. Anyways... making my way to the exhibit, only the small marquee sign is visible. Upon entering the exhibit, I came uopn a love huge rendering of HKDL's Main Street USA. From there, as I made my way counter clockwise, I enjoyed the many aspects of the exhibits, which is not as extensive as I had hoped but it does serve to pick my interest a bit more and maybe appreciate this park for what it appears to be: elegant park.
The only things that disappointed me a bit was that most of the photos and renderings on display here are items we have already seen at so many other Disney fan sites and even in the official HKDL website. Also...there were NO video monitor exhibits that would show construction updates and such other HKDL developments or milestones, such as the ground breaking ceremony or castle topping ceremony. These milestones are shown briefly via photos that (again) we have already seen before. Also...there were NO CMs in the exhibit at all, so no one was available to explain further or answer questions from guests. More horrific to me was also the lack of a pre-opening merchandise stand. No tees or pins or keyrings that would read "HKDL-opening sept 15th 2005" anywhere. Zip. Nada in the merchandise dept. ..and believe me... I would have love to own some of those renderings in post card format at least.
As for the exhibits..it does make a great show and does give curous guests an idea of what is there to be seen come sept 2005. At least I overheard one guest commenting to his wife..."oh honey, we are going to have to go to HK!!" so I guess that's one point in favor of Disney and what they are trying to accomplish with this preview exhibit.
I did learn of some things that I didn't know about the park, and also saw some artwork I had not seen before, but all in all, the displays are as basic as possible and lack a lot of indepth information, but still made me more curious than ever to discover the place and anticipate what's in store. It also made another concern of mine quite clear... as it is frightening to find out about the very few attractions this park will offer on opening day. I tried my best to look closely at the renderings and models on display but my fears are true (at least for what I saw), the park will be a pedestrian park for the most part, and I sure hope that Imagineering's magic in regards to the park's cosmetic looks and themeing will be enough to carry HKDL thru it's first few years. They definitely need more attractions here if they are to satisfy the masses that will most likely decend upon HKDL after it's opening.
With that said and done...I invite you to take a look at my photos from the exhibit, and do take the time to read captions so you too can learn of somethings I discovered while touring the exhibit. Enjoy.