Hong Kong Disneyland plans Iron Man expansion


Associated Press

Posted on October 8, 2013 at 2:04 AM

Updated Tuesday, Oct 8 at 2:07 AM

HONG KONG (AP) — Hong Kong Disneyland is adding an Iron Man-themed area in the hopes that the Marvel superhero's success at the Chinese box office will help draw more visitors to the underachieving resort.

The park said Tuesday that the Iron Man Experience is planned to open by late 2016.

A thrill ride will let visitors "take flight with Iron Man on an epic adventure" involving a "battle against alien invaders" across Hong Kong, the park said.

Fans will also be able to take photos with the action character, view the different Iron Man suits created by alter ego Tony Stark and visit a gift shop.

Hong Kong Disneyland revealed few other details, such as the project's budget.

It's the latest in a series of expansions aimed at bolstering visitor numbers at the struggling park, which has failed to draw as many tourists as expected because of its small size.

At just 311 acres (126 hectares) when it opened, Hong Kong Disneyland was the smallest of Burbank, California-based Walt Disney Co.'s parks worldwide. New attractions added over the past two years, including rides based on the "Toy Story" movies, have added a quarter to the park's size.

The expansion efforts so far appear to be paying off. The park earned a small profit of $14 million in its latest financial year, its first after losing hundreds of millions since opening in 2005.

The Iron Man ride would be the first based on a Marvel franchise for Disney, which bought Marvel for $4.2 billion in December 2009 as it sought to build up its appeal with boys. "Iron Man 3" was the No. 2 movie in China in the first half of the year, raking in 722 million yuan ($118 million), according to Chinese state media.

Hong Kong's Disnelyand is a joint venture between the Hong Kong government, which owns 52 percent, and Walt Disney, which owns the rest.