Story highlights

Hong Kong Disneyland announces new $1.4 billion expansion plan

Development plan includes new themed areas, attractions and entertainment

CNN  — 

Are the icy powers of “Frozen” stars Elsa, Anna and Olaf magical enough to draw tourists back to the world’s smallest Disney resort?

Hong Kong Disneyland execs certainly hope so.

In an effort to renew interest in the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, which has experienced a drop in visitor numbers, Disney has announced a multi-year, $1.4 billion development plan that includes new themed areas, attractions and entertainment.

Hong Kong Disneyland said in a statement there would be new attractions launching almost every year, from 2018 through 2023.

Among the highlights is a new “Frozen” themed area featuring rides, dining, shopping and entertainment based around the characters and stories from the kingdom of Arendelle.

It’s due to open in 2020.

Hong Kong Disneyland's Arendelle concept art.

First up: Iron Man Experience

Other expansion plans include a new Marvel Super Heroes zone. This will complement the new Iron Man Experience, which officially opens on January 11, 2017.

The Iron Man Experience features a multi-sensory immersive motion ride that allows guests to soar through Hong Kong’s skies alongside Iron Man and battle the evil forces of Hydra.

There’s also a mock Stark Expo, where Tony Stark will show off his latest high-tech creations in various exhibition halls.

Though further details on the Marvel zone are sparse, the announcement did say the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters would be reimagined into a brand new experience that allows guests to fight alongside the icons of the Marvel Universe.

Other highlights in the expansion plan include a transformed castle and hub area to showcase brand new daytime and nighttime shows and an “Adventureland Show Place.”

At the latter, guests will be able to check out shows at “Moana’s Village Festival” and meet Moana, heroine of the new Disney animated film due for release this month.

Locals won't have any trouble recognizing the backdrop of the new Iron Man Experience.

“We are more excited than ever about the future of Hong Kong Disneyland,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, in a statement.

“We are bringing the best of The Walt Disney Company to this wonderful tourist destination, giving guests from around the world an experience only Disney can deliver and an experience they can only have with us at Hong Kong Disneyland.”

In terms of new accommodation offerings, the Disney Explorers Lodge resort hotel will open later in the first half of 2017.

For a look at some of the concept art for the new additions, check out the above gallery.

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Hong Kong government footing more than half the bill

For many Mickey Mouse fans in the region, Hong Kong’s Disneyland has become an afterthought following the flashy opening of the massive Shanghai Disney Resort in June of this year.

The expansion might give them reason to come back.

According to Disney’s statement, the plan will be funded by Hong Kong Disneyland’s shareholders – subsidiaries of the Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong Government, which owns a 53% stake in the park.

This means the shares of the project funded by the company and the government will be approximately $650 million and $750 million, respectively, subject to funding approval by both sides.

According to a report in the South China Morning Post, the expansion is expected to create 5,000 to 8,000 jobs across the tourism industry.

“Despite dwindling tourist numbers, [Commerce Minister Greg So Kam-leung] expects the park’s new offerings to help attract up to 9.5 million visitors annually by 2025, up from 6.8 million in 2015,” says the SCMP report.

“The expansion comes after the park’s first descent into the red in five years and large-scale layoffs earlier this year. It lost a total of HK$148 million [$19 million] last year, while the number of visitors dropped 9.3%.”

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