Has Hong Kong Disneyland Finally Solved Disney’s Tomorrowland Problem?

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best tomorrowland
Hong Kong Disneyland’s “old” Tomorrowland 2013.

The Best Tomorrowland?

When Hong Kong Disneyland was built in 2005 it was designed in many ways to look like Disneyland in Anaheim. The castle was identical and Main Street was very similar. While it did stray from Disneyland’s model when it came to Adventureland (and the lack of Frontierland), it pretty much played it safe when it came to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland.

And that’s not to say Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland could or can compare to Disneyland’s in size or scope, but it felt familiar. On opening day it had the same Space Mountain as could be found in Disneyland, a rocket ride that goes in a circle and a Buzz Lightyear shooting dark ride that was very similar to all of the others installed around the world. It was small, but dare I say familiar. When the park added Autopia shortly after opening, it didn’t help to make Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland any more unique either.

A Generic Tomorrowland

But today is a different story. Since Hong Kong Disneyland opened in 2005, Disney purchased both Marvel and Lucasfilm. We see the results of those purchases in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission:Breakout!, but no park mashes them together like Hong Kong Disneyland and I LIKE IT!

What is the most common complaint you see about Tomorrowland? The theme is vague and it is outdated! Sure, those criticisms can vary park to park, but for the most part Disney has struggled to define what Tomorrowland is in this modern era. That is a problem that desperately needs to be fixed in Anaheim, Tokyo and Orlando, but thankfully I think they have it figured out in Hong Kong.

best tomorrowland
Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland sign in 2007. You can see the Orbitron in the background. This view looks largely the same today, but once you turn the corner the land looks completely different.

Star Wars Tomorrowland Takeover

When Disney brought back the Skywalker movies a few years ago they decided to implement an overlay to Space Mountain in Hong Kong, Paris and Anaheim. While the Anaheim version was temporary (and has returned for a limited time), the Paris and Hong Kong versions are permanent. Tossing Paris aside, this represents a pretty amazing anchor to Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland and dare I say I prefer it to the original?!?

Around the time Hyperspace Mountain came to Hong Kong Disneyland as part of the “Star Wars Tomorrowland Takeover”, a new stage was built next door to handle Jedi Training Academy. The combination of the newly painted Hyperspace Mountain and this stage brought a lot more atmosphere to the area. It still felt generic, but it was coming along.

Enter Marvel Land

Then, Disney announced and opened their first Marvel ride next door. The Iron Man Experience takes place in Stark Expo Hong Kong and utilizes the Star Tours ride system, but has a unique movie and story. It was Disney’s first Marvel ride and only one piece of the puzzle in the new Star Wars/Marvel Tomorrowland.

Earlier this year Hong Kong Disneyland took the next step in this re-theme by completely re-doing their Buzz Lightyear shooting dark ride. With much better technology and an updated story tying into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ant-Man and the Wasp: Nano Battle has been a big hit. (See the before and after above.) But they aren’t done.

Identity Taking Shape

Since its opening, Hong Kong Disneyland has struggled to grow its own identity but that is finally starting to take shape. In addition to the new rides/renovations mentioned above, they expanded the park with several unique areas and are once again changing with an expansion of the castle and the addition of a Frozen themed land. Once that is completed they’ll get back to finishing their Star Wars/Marvel land.

Around 2023 if timelines hold, an Avengers ride will make its way to Hong Kong Disneyland to finish out the trio of Marvel attractions. It will sit in the vast and now empty Autopia spot and based on rumors will be a massive and epic experience. Once this new ride lands in Hong Kong Disneyland’s Tomorrowland I think it might just be the best of all of them.

best tomorrowland
Shawn Reece and Jasmine in Hong Kong Disneyland Tomorrowland Autopia car 2007.

More Theming Needed

When entering Tomorrowland from the hub you still can see the remnants of that original Tomorrowland. The land’s Orbitron rocket ride and two restaurants still largely look like they did on opening day with the exception of some different paint colors. If they go all-in and decide to bring the entry area into the fold, then it could become truly magical.

Bottom Line

When Disney completes their second massive expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland they may just have the most relevant version of Tomorrowland in the world. Yes, it is full of Disney intellectual property and one could argue Star Wars and Marvel don’t belong together, but having experienced it recently I can say it works well enough and what was once the park’s most generic area is quickly becoming its most exciting!

Have you been to Hong Kong Disneyland recently to see the changes coming to Tomorrowland? Share your thoughts on the park and its expansions in the comments!

Shawn Coomerhttp://www.disneyhacks.com
I grew up an hour from Disneyland and spent most of my childhood at Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom. As I grew up my love of theme parks and Disney grew as did my love of travel. For the past 13 years I have circled the globe with my family for pennies on the dollar. I am an expert at travel hacking, saving money, family travel and of course Disney.

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