Jump to content

Why are disney parks so expensive to build?


Recommended Posts

I was just reading a 2005 article which stated that Hong Kong Disneyland cost $1.8 Billion USD to construct. To me this doesn't make sense given the park only had 7 rides on opening day and featured theming that isnt to much better than some Australian parks. Compare this to Universal Studios Singapore a park wich cost only a little over $1 Billion SGD (Far less in American dollars) and had far more opening day rides and far superior theming. This raises a serious question of why Hong Kong Disneyland Park cost so much money to build.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nah, Disney theming definitely is is much better, and more extensive than Australian parks.

It's stuff like how Superman Escape comes out of white shed, or on Wildwest Falls the back of the lift hill is exposed.

At Disney parks you just don't see any breaks in the theming like that, this means more design, more materials etc to finish the job.

HK land and construction costs are high.

Disney capacity requirements are higher, so more trains, more blocks etc.

As for USS, I think because the park is slightly smaller than HK, and yes more attractions in total, but a lot of them are cheaper, for example something like Jungle cruise would cost more combined than several smaller ones like the car ride, rollerskater, carousel etc

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Gazza said:

HK land and construction costs are high.

The price tag I provided didnt factor in land costs and as far as labor goes I cant imagine singaporean labor being much cheaper than hong kong.

1 hour ago, Gazza said:

As for USS, I think because the park is slightly smaller than HK, and yes more attractions in total, but a lot of them are cheaper, for example something like Jungle cruise would cost more combined than several smaller ones like the car ride, rollerskater, carousel etc

You forget that Disneyland Hong Kong also opened with a lot of cheap small attractions like a carousel, tea cups and 2 spinner rides. Hong kong only had 2 major attractions at opening jungle cruise and space mountain. Whilst Universal Singapore had 5 major attractions Transformers, Battlestar Galactica, Mummy, Jurrasic Park and Madagascar.

1 hour ago, Gazza said:

Disney capacity requirements are higher, so more trains, more blocks etc.

I cant imagine Universal capacity being much smaller than Disney.

Edited by Park Fan
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
44 minutes ago, Ash said:

Ever been to disneysea? The teeming there is second to none. 

Oh no Disneysea is definitely second to none Im more so just curious why Hong Kong cost so much when it was a worse park than Universal Studios Singapore which had nearly half the budget of Hong Kong Disneyland.

40 minutes ago, Gazza said:

Transformers didn't open with USS.

Sorry my mistake but the overall point still stands that universal had more major attractions on its opening than hong kong had.

40 minutes ago, Gazza said:

Does the $1.8b include the resort at HK?

Nope it was $1.81 billion to build the park and an additional $1.74 billion to buy the land and develop associated resort infastructure and facilities.

Edited by Park Fan
Link to post
Share on other sites
16 hours ago, Park Fan said:

The price tag I provided didnt factor in land costs and as far as labor goes I cant imagine singaporean labor being much cheaper than hong kong.

You forget that Disneyland Hong Kong also opened with a lot of cheap small attractions like a carousel, tea cups and 2 spinner rides. Hong kong only had 2 major attractions at opening jungle cruise and space mountain. Whilst Universal Singapore had 5 major attractions Transformers, Battlestar Galactica, Mummy, Jurrasic Park and Madagascar.

I cant imagine Universal capacity being much smaller than Disney.

Yeah, Transformers wasn't built at open, Battlestar didn't open with the park due to seats falling off, and Madagascar was a delayed open as well. Now, it's been a while since I did math, but that leaves Mummy and Jurassic Park, and i'm pretty sure that's two.

Being fair, JP had both the rapids and the canopy flyer coaster, which although small is pretty cool. But we're also ignoring the shows on offer at both parks which also would have cost loads on both sides.

I'll grant you that Universal did technically have more to offer at open - it was the folly of Disney to think that they needed to target the local non-thrill market in one of the biggest transport hubs in the world - but they sought to fix that pretty quickly.

The thing about Disney is there's no way in hell you can compare their level of theming, detail and immersion to an Australian park or ride. The closest we ever got to their level was Bermuda - and even Disney executives were astounded by how much it cost - however we all know what Bermuda looked like at the end of its life - and that just doesn't happen at Disney.

If you want to know why Disney parks are truly so expensive to build - try searching 'Imagineering in a box' and understand that, at best, you've got 1-2 guys in Australia doing the design work on everything outside the ride machinery and operations requirements.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
54 minutes ago, DaptoFunlandGuy said:

If you want to know why Disney parks are truly so expensive to build - try searching 'Imagineering in a box' and understand that, at best, you've got 1-2 guys in Australia doing the design work on everything outside the ride machinery and operations requirements.

Do you know why a park like Hong Kong Disneyland is so much more expensive than Universal Studios Singapore? I understand that an attraction at Disney is probably going to be more expensive than one at Movie World but I am not sure why Disney is so much more expensive than Universal.

Edited by Park Fan
Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah thats a fair question - and honestly, when you look at installations like Wizarding World, Universal certainly has the capability to do great things.

I'm certainly no expert on the details - but while times have changed, I think it comes down a lot to the (MANY MANY) little things Disney does - the little attention to detail, 'show comes first' things that come before cost (Unless you're Bob Chapek).

I remember in my early 'discovery of disney parks' days - I read stories about how Disney would replace every lightbulb in a Main Street Facade at the same time, when they had reached 80% of their expected life - rather than waiting until they blew so that there were never any blown bulbs.

Now, I know that isn't always the case any more (its just wasteful really) but it illustrates the thinking behind how disney does things.

Another story I remember is the costume designer for Pirates of the Caribbean. I think it was Alice Davis? Anyhow - I think the story goes that she was asked to cost the costumes for all the animatronics - so she made an estimate and then doubled it and went with the double figure - that allowed her to make multiples of the same outfit, so that one could be laundered while the other was 'in show'.

Things like mountains - every detail is thoughtfully planned, then moulded, cemented, painted, and weathered all by hand - even in places that guests won't get within 300 feet of.

What makes a Ferrari better than a Subaru? (or insert any other preferred vehicle comparison you like.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
57 minutes ago, DaptoFunlandGuy said:

Yeah thats a fair question - and honestly, when you look at installations like Wizarding World, Universal certainly has the capability to do great things.

I'm certainly no expert on the details - but while times have changed, I think it comes down a lot to the (MANY MANY) little things Disney does - the little attention to detail, 'show comes first' things that come before cost (Unless you're Bob Chapek).

I remember in my early 'discovery of disney parks' days - I read stories about how Disney would replace every lightbulb in a Main Street Facade at the same time, when they had reached 80% of their expected life - rather than waiting until they blew so that there were never any blown bulbs.

Now, I know that isn't always the case any more (its just wasteful really) but it illustrates the thinking behind how disney does things.

Another story I remember is the costume designer for Pirates of the Caribbean. I think it was Alice Davis? Anyhow - I think the story goes that she was asked to cost the costumes for all the animatronics - so she made an estimate and then doubled it and went with the double figure - that allowed her to make multiples of the same outfit, so that one could be laundered while the other was 'in show'.

Things like mountains - every detail is thoughtfully planned, then moulded, cemented, painted, and weathered all by hand - even in places that guests won't get within 300 feet of.

Do these levels of detail not apply to Universal Parks as well?

Also Didnt Hong kong Disneyland cut a lot of these corners?

It just feels like Disney spent more money in Hong Kong than Universal spent in Singapore and somehow managed to still have an inferior park.

This analysis doesn't just apply to whole parks but also individual lands. Star Wars Land cost over a billion dollars whilst the more successful Harry Potter land cost around a quarter of that price. 

Its makes me feel that Disney at least with the examples provided are overspending compared to Universal.

Edited by Park Fan
Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, Naazon said:

There is a chance the Disney figure was the "cost of the park" not just how much was spent on completed rides / areas for opening.

For Hong Kong Disney, Star Wars Land, Harry Potter and Universal Singapore the costs provided were for the whole park or area with none of the figures I used being just for rides. 

Edited by Park Fan
Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Park Fan said:

Do these levels of detail not apply to Universal Parks as well?

The analogy that comes to mind is a car wash. You can have the regular wash, or you can upgrade to the deluxe (Universal) wash - which is a really nice upgrade - and then they go a little overboard and offer an 'Ultimate Deluxe Wash' (Disney) - just my opinion.

Its the noticeables. Disney does things in their builds that 99.99999999999999999% of people will never notice. But for those who do, or understand the story - it makes the magic even better - its the epitome of the hidden mickey.

1 hour ago, Park Fan said:

Didnt Hong kong Disneyland cut a lot of these corners?

Source?

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 minutes ago, DaptoFunlandGuy said:

Source?

My source for hong kong Disneyland making cut backs in terms of theming is general observations like how the first castle was small and had no interior decoration or even murals inside the tunnel like at other castles, how many of the parade floats and costumes were hand me downs from tokyo and how the splash pad in Tommorrowland was clearly a cheap tacky space filler. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

So, no source. gotcha.

Certainly several things about Hong Kong were scaled back as the company was tightening its belt at the time. And it was a mistake. However, the design of the park was always the flawed way it opened. They did market research, expecting the bulk of their traffic to come from mainland chinese tourists, who did not like high thrill attractions, and preferred photo opportunities, meet and greets, and shows. HKers expected and wanted more, and so did the many international tourists that travelled through hong kong and stopped off to visit the park.

It's telling that the two things in-park that cater to the chinese demographic in chinese language were the Jungle Cruise and the Golden Mickeys, and that such a large portion of Fantasyland was dedicated to the Fantasy Gardens character meet and greets.

Many others attractions - Philharmagic, Space Mountain, Sleeping Beauty Castle were all copies \ clones which saved on design and development costs - but Hong Kong isn't the only park to take advantage of cloned attractions to spread the R&D costs - but they still cost a bit to build.

Regarding the murals - the problem is such a nice to look at object inside the objectively narrow pathway through the castle would inevitably lead to the castle pathways choking with hoards of photographers eager to capture every angle. It was a prudent move to keep the interior of the castle bare to keep the crowds moving towards the far more spacious and appealing sights of fantasyland.

As for space filler, sure - things like UFO Zone could be considered space fillers (it was actually another shrewd "appeal to the local kids" design)- but you point to that as a way to cheap out when in reality - instead of custom designing buzz lightyear water features, they could have just left it grass, or construction wall and called it a day.

The fact is that they did frequently hit park capacity, especially around chinese holidays such as New Years, so much so that the park had to revise its ticketing policy and park capacity to manage demands.

Hong Kong's budget was definitely restricted compared to what it SHOULD have been on day one. And they certainly scaled things back as a result, but I don't agree that they 'cut corners' - the "flaws" you point to about the park were allegedly deliberate design choices to cater to the local market. Right down to the alignment of the park, and bends in pathways, placement of fountains and stone sculptures to satisfy the requirements of Feng Shui.

Link to post
Share on other sites
9 hours ago, DaptoFunlandGuy said:

So, no source. gotcha.

Certainly several things about Hong Kong were scaled back as the company was tightening its belt at the time. And it was a mistake. However, the design of the park was always the flawed way it opened. They did market research, expecting the bulk of their traffic to come from mainland chinese tourists, who did not like high thrill attractions, and preferred photo opportunities, meet and greets, and shows. HKers expected and wanted more, and so did the many international tourists that travelled through hong kong and stopped off to visit the park.

It's telling that the two things in-park that cater to the chinese demographic in chinese language were the Jungle Cruise and the Golden Mickeys, and that such a large portion of Fantasyland was dedicated to the Fantasy Gardens character meet and greets.

Many others attractions - Philharmagic, Space Mountain, Sleeping Beauty Castle were all copies \ clones which saved on design and development costs - but Hong Kong isn't the only park to take advantage of cloned attractions to spread the R&D costs - but they still cost a bit to build.

Regarding the murals - the problem is such a nice to look at object inside the objectively narrow pathway through the castle would inevitably lead to the castle pathways choking with hoards of photographers eager to capture every angle. It was a prudent move to keep the interior of the castle bare to keep the crowds moving towards the far more spacious and appealing sights of fantasyland.

As for space filler, sure - things like UFO Zone could be considered space fillers (it was actually another shrewd "appeal to the local kids" design)- but you point to that as a way to cheap out when in reality - instead of custom designing buzz lightyear water features, they could have just left it grass, or construction wall and called it a day.

The fact is that they did frequently hit park capacity, especially around chinese holidays such as New Years, so much so that the park had to revise its ticketing policy and park capacity to manage demands.

Hong Kong's budget was definitely restricted compared to what it SHOULD have been on day one. And they certainly scaled things back as a result, but I don't agree that they 'cut corners' - the "flaws" you point to about the park were allegedly deliberate design choices to cater to the local market. Right down to the alignment of the park, and bends in pathways, placement of fountains and stone sculptures to satisfy the requirements of Feng Shui.

I still dont understand why the park cost $1.8 Billion when it is clearly a small park with theming and attractions that deliberate or not were scaled back compared to every other Disney park on the planet.

I must ask is the reason that the park cost so much for such a subpar product because imagineering was so focused on blowing their decently sized budget on tiny details most guests wouldnt notice that they ignored the need for more lands and attractions to the point where Universal could produce a better park only a few years later with a much smaller budget and theming that were basically on par with what imagineering had created for Hong Kong anyway.

To be clear I wouldnt complain about the cost if the park offered some kind of amazing and unique experience like you would find in shanghai or paris but it clearly doesn't it just feels like a sub par experience that shouldnt have cost anywhere near what it did.

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 hours ago, Park Fan said:

I must ask is the reason that the park cost so much for such a subpar product because imagineering was so focused on blowing their decently sized budget on tiny details most guests wouldnt notice that they ignored the need for more lands and attractions to the point where Universal could produce a better park only a few years later with a much smaller budget and theming that were basically on par with what imagineering had created for Hong Kong anyway.

If you can't see it, there is no point trying to convince you further. This kind of apathy is why our parks only aim for "its ok" instead of "HOLY SHITBALLS THATS AMAZING".

I visited both parks in their early days. I have a different opinion. Just gonna have to agree to disagree.

Link to post
Share on other sites
Posted (edited)

I said I am ok with disney spending big bucks to get holy shitballs amazing theming like they did in shanghai and paris but in hong kong they didnt do that they spent the money but the theming is nothing compared to paris and shanghai and I would say on par with Universal Studios Singapore despite costing twice as much. Again no problem with disney spending money for amazing experiences but face it this didnt happen in hong kong.

Edited by Park Fan
Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, Park Fan said:

I said I am ok with disney spending big bucks to get holy shitballs amazing theming like they did in shanghai and paris but in hong kong they didnt do that they spent the money but the theming is nothing compared to paris and shanghai and I would say on par with Universal Studios Singapore despite costing twice as much. Again no problem with disney spending money for amazing experiences but face it this didnt happen in hong kong.

It seems you are expecting someone from Disney to jump on here and explain their financial decisions, operations and logistics to you in detail.

People have answered your question with the knowledge, thoughts, ideas they have, yet to you keep countering that with "but why...."

You're not going to get more than what you've been given.

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

The total estimated cost of the project (including land and infrastructure) for the island and all the elements that were not Disney was 18.1 Billion

according to the HK GOVT brief for the project: (It's a looooog read and really dull)

https://www.legco.gov.hk/yr99-00/english/hc/papers/brief.pdf

Disney put in a small fraction of the total development cost for the area meaning that the HK Govt had little they could 'subsidise' the building with. (especially given most of the 18 Billion was borrowed money according to the brief)

PERHAPS Universal Singapore managed to get some Govt funds to subsidise their build? (I have no figures to back it up, I did look) but it is not unexpected for that to have happened given the the expected rise in tourism both local and international that a park of the caliber would draw.

However, as @Brad2912 said above, all we have is speculation and ideas based on what we can find, and the experience of people in here, and I very much doubt that anyone with the knowledge as to exactly why it cost as much as it did will be giving that information in ANY forums as it would very likely breach their employment NDA.

 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

This is the stupidest thread I’ve ever read. 
Countless enlightened people have answered why it cost so much. 
You came to a forum to ask a question and then state that no one who could know the answer would post it on a forum. 
 

Anyone who has any involvement in any kind of themed entertainment knows how quickly things get expensive. 
If you thing Universal Singapore has the same level of theming detail as Hong Kong Disney then you are wrong. Its not subjective, its fact. And that’s why it costs so much more. 
The fact that for you that detail means little is irrelevant, you are entitled to have a preference for the Universal park and like it more. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t more detail at Disney, it just means it doesn’t interest you. 

  • Like 1
Link to post
Share on other sites
On 30/03/2021 at 6:59 PM, troll under the coaster said:

PERHAPS Universal Singapore managed to get some Govt funds to subsidise their build? (I have no figures to back it up, I did look) but it is not unexpected for that to have happened given the the expected rise in tourism both local and international that a park of the caliber would draw.

Nope Universal Singapore received no subsidies and straight up only cost roughly $1 Billion SGD to build. The only help Universal received from the Singaporean government being assistance for their Malaysian business partners to get a casino license for their Resorts World Development.

Interestingly the reason Disney backed out of negotiations to build a park in Singapore during the late 90's was because the Singaporean government has a policy against offering subsidies and tax breaks to privately owned tourist attractions.

On 30/03/2021 at 6:59 PM, troll under the coaster said:

However, as @Brad2912 said above, all we have is speculation and ideas based on what we can find, and the experience of people in here, and I very much doubt that anyone with the knowledge as to exactly why it cost as much as it did will be giving that information in ANY forums as it would very likely breach their employment NDA.

 

Yeah these are probably the best answers I am going to get.

Thanks for the help.

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, Park Fan said:

The only help Universal received from the Singaporean government being assistance for their Malaysian business partners to get a casino license for their Resorts World Development.

The amount of spin on this statement is making me dizzy.

Genting was a bidder in a tender process run by the Singaporean government to award the contract to develop Sentosa island into a tourism destination. Genting - which is first and foremost a Casino operator - was bidding to obtain the lucrative casino licence.

A theme park was part of the tender specifications - it was a requirement for those bidding for the contract. Genting took the easiest solution and simply partnered with another park chain to operate the park.

It is extraordinarily telling that, even though the park was not ready to open, and numerous rides would not open for months after, Universal soft opened for previews (with zero rides running) on the 14th of February 2010 - the same date the RWS Casino opened for full-time operations. The park was a condition of Casino licence, not the other way around.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.