Images of a new Marvel attraction, which forms part of a multiyear expansion at Hong Kong Disneyland, were revealed on Tuesday.
The ride, the second featuring characters from the Marvel comics series, was expected to open this year, giving a much-needed boost to the theme park’s flagging finances.
After posting losses of HK$171 million (US$21.9 million) in 2016 and HK$148 million the previous year, market watchers were keen to find out how the park would fare when it announced its 2017 results on February 20.
Following years of criticism that the park, occupying 27.5 hectares of land, had too few attractions to lure tourists for a return visit, a HK$10.9 billion expansion finally started last October, and would last into 2023. The cost will be split by the Walt Disney Company and Hong Kong government, the majority shareholder.
The latest, as yet unnamed, attraction, is based on Marvel characters Ant-Man and the Wasp, and follows another Iron Man-themed ride last year.
Artists’ impressions of the attraction show a mainly futuristic design throughout.
The new ride will sit on the site of the former Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, which closed in August after 12 years.
An even bigger Marvel-themed area featuring super heroes from the Avengers franchise was expected to open in 2023, while another area would be based on Frozen, the hugely popular Disney cartoon.
Though the expansion was planned to minimise disruption to daily operations, a makeover of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the park’s centrepiece, forced the suspension of the nightly fireworks from January 2 until 2019 at the earliest.
Official estimates show that the park would receive up to 9.3 million visitors a year by 2025, up from 6.1 million in 2016, while the expansion would create an additional 8,000 jobs in the tourism sector.
Hong Kong Disneyland’s attendance fell 10 per cent in 2016 largely due to a 21 per cent slump in the number of inbound mainland China visitors.
Ticket prices were raised in December for the fifth year in a row to offset declining attendances, with adult admission costing HK$619, up 5 per cent.
The opening of Shanghai Disneyland – which is 14 times larger than its Hong Kong counterpart – in June 2016 could also eat away at its profitability, although Disney executives insisted the mainland market was big enough to accommodate two parks.
Hong Kong’s inbound tourism figures rebounded in 2017, rising 3.2 per cent year on year to 58.5 million.