20 September 2005

HK Disneyland... and this is important, because...?

Hong Kong, or Disney, or both, clearly had a plane-full of UK journalists out there for the opening of HK Disneyland a week ago yesterday, because their copy has been appearing all over the place in the last 7 days.

(They all say pretty much the same thing: pretty island setting / much smaller than other Disney parks with fewer rides / bizarre cultural juxtaposition / tri-language difficulties.)

I keep wondering, why? Why were they invited and why did they go? What's in it for a UK audience/readership?

I mean, I know 'why' - the opening of a multi-million dollar Disney park is quite a big thing, and wouldn't you enjoy a freebie out to Hong Kong - but it's not really going to be a big draw for a British traveller is it?

Disney World/Land in California or Florida might be a significant reason to go to the USA (their true cultural setting). Disneyland Paris is important because it's our local Disney park. But no Brit would travel to Japan primarily to visit Tokyo Disneyland, would they? These parks are aimed at their local/regional markets. That's why the next one is planned for Shanghai.

If Disney and their government partners want to attract both domestic and international visitors they have to give the parks more individuality and autonomy. At the moment there are minor regional differences but, like KFC and MacDonalds, it's essentially the same.

Put more simply: my family have no interest in going to Disney in Paris, Japan, California or Hong Kong because we've seen it all, 'got the t-shirt', in Florida.

If the parks had greater autonomy for their own 'imagineers' to develop their own rides and attractions (within the Disney intellectual portfolio) each one could reach both markets.

Meanwhile the fact box at the bottom of Fred Mawer's HK Disneyland piece in today's Telegraph tells me I can fly halfway around the world with BA for £x to stay in a Disneyland hotel, how much the park tickets will cost, etc, etc.... yeah right! That's useful to know!

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