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Just like the Avengers might call in Iron Man for air support, Disney is counting on Ol’ Shellhead to rescue its struggling Hong Kong theme park.
The entertainment giant has announced the 2016 opening of the Iron Man Experience at Hong Kong Disneyland, the first ride based on a Marvel character since Disney purchased the company in 2009. According to The New York Times, analysts place the project’s price tag at about $100 million.
Located in the Tomorrowland area, it will be based within part of the Stark Expo, which will apparently feature something akin to the Hall of Armor on display at Disneyland in Anaheim, California (although presumably more robust). There will also be a gift shop and photo pavilion, but the big draw is the thrill ride that employs next-generation simulator technology to send visitors into action with Iron Man.
“Upon entering the ride vehicle our guests will be able to take flight with Iron Man on an epic adventure that not surprisingly pits Iron Man, and our guests, against the forces of evil,” explains Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “This adventure will take place in the streets and skies of Hong Kong, which will make an even more unique and special experience for our Hong Kong Disneyland guests.”
That last part is critical, as Hong Kong Disneyland has experienced difficulty attracting tourists from mainland China, leading to the loss of hundreds of millions of dollars since its opening in 2005. The 55-acre theme park, which is jointly owned with the Hong Kong government, turned its first profit — a mere $14 million — just last year.
Interestingly enough, Hong Kong Financial Secretary John Tsang announced in February that a Marvel superheroes area would be added as part of a park expansion, only to have Disney to characterize his comments as premature.