A full decade after Walt Disney Co.’s musical animation Frozen became a global box office phenomenon — and a lasting soundtrack to the lives of parents with young children everywhere — the first theme park attraction dedicated to the film will open its doors Monday at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.
The delayed take on the internationally popular IP is expected to deliver further gains for Disney’s lucrative, newly rebranded Experiences group, including its theme parks, cruises and consumer products businesses, which reported a 31 percent rise in revenue last quarter. business.
The launch also underscores the role the Asia-Pacific region will play in Disney’s recently revealed plans to “turbocharge growth in our parks and experiences business,” CEO Bob Iger said at the company’s fourth-quarter earnings call earlier this month. . In September, Disney said it would spend $60 billion over the next 10 years to expand its parks and cruise lines — nearly doubling investment in the sector over the past decade.
Among Disney’s portfolio of six theme parks around the world, Hong Kong Disneyland is perhaps the location most in need of a boost. The park, which is jointly owned by Disney and the Hong Kong government (with the government holding a slight majority), has reported losses for the past eight operating years and made a profit in just three years since opening in 2005. Several significant headwinds over the past few years, including a steep decline in civic engagement and mainland Chinese tourism during pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong in 2019-2020, followed by the city’s prolonged border control policies during the pandemic.
“[World of Frozen] will completely change the footprint of this theme park and bring whole new fans and families to the franchise,” he said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
The executive added that he viewed the new Frozen attraction earlier in the day with director Jennifer Lee, co-creator and co-director of the film Frozen films. “To see her walk into that space and be completely immersed and overwhelmed, frankly, by what she saw — that’s a big thing,” he said.
D’Amaro said Disney chose Hong Kong as the first global location for a Frozen land because he “knew guests in Asia and Hong Kong were asking for it” and “we saw a big opportunity to do it right here.”
The Frozen World in Hong Kong brings to life many iconic scenes from the films, such as North Mountain, Elsa’s Ice Palace, Arendelle Castle, the Friendship Fountain and the Clock Tower where Anna dances with Prince Hans. The area is also home to three main attractions: Frozen Ever After, a family-friendly boat ride that immerses guests in the music and world of the movies; Wandering Oaken’s Sliding Sleighs, a high-speed slide through the landscapes of Arendelle; and Playhouse in the Woods, a high-tech interactive show featuring Anna, Elsa and Olaf.
Business at Hong Kong Disneyland has already started to pick up ahead of the looming opening of the new attraction next week. In its quarterly earnings report on Nov. 8, the company said the international arm of its Experiences division posted a more than 100 percent rise in revenue to $441 million, with higher attendance and higher ticket prices at parks in Shanghai and Hong Kong offsetting worse results in home parks in California and Florida.
“As the borders have opened up, flights continue to come in and visas are easier to get, we’ve seen really nice growth here,” D’Amato said from Hong Kong. “Adding this new land will open people’s eyes to the fact that this is a place they can now come to. That’s why we have high expectations here.”
Disney has already announced several major expansions of its parks and cruises overseas before unveiling a $60 billion spending plan for the next decade. The opening of World of Frozen in Hong Kong is to be followed by the long-planned presentation of a Zootopia– a themed area at Shanghai Disney Resort in December, the Frozen Kingdom attraction at Tokyo Disney Resort in spring 2024, and more Frozen-the theme area of the Kingdom of Arendelle in Disneyland Paris in 2024/2025. Disney first launched cruises in Australia and New Zealand in October, and due to the popularity of the first sailings, the company recently revealed expanded voyages to both countries for 2024 and 2025. A Disney Cruise Lines port is also planned for Singapore in 2025 — the first in Southeast Asia. In its last full fiscal year, Disney invested $5 billion in its parks, resorts and cruise lines.
D’Amato declined to say how much of the $60 billion in future spending is for domestic and more international projects in Asia.
“All the sites are doing extremely well today,” he said, referring to Disney’s parks in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Tokyo. “We will continue to invest there and I think that can be built upon with other experiences outside of those three theme parks.”
Disney has also revealed big domestic expansion goals, but those ambitions may ultimately depend on forces beyond its control. The company wants to redevelop the land next to the original Disneyland in California, but that will require the city of Anaheim to change a policy that limits where such attractions can be built. The city is expected to vote on Disney’s proposed rule changes in late 2024. Disney also previously said it would spend $17 billion over the next decade to expand Walt Disney World in Florida, but those goals are in doubt because of the company’s high-profile legal action. feud with state governor Ron DeSantis.
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