Friday, May 11, 2012
It seems that all South-East Asia countries want a Disney theme park! Recently Thailand and Philippines officials did a request, either to their own government or directly to the WDC. There is a good reason for that as both are aware of the tourism potential of a major theme park, specially since Hong Kong Disneyland and Universal Singapore opened.
Let's begin by Philippines where, according to Rappler.com, "Representative Carmelo “Tarzan” Lazatin has reportedly written a letter to Thomas Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, encouraging him to expand the international leisure park franchise on Philippine soil.
Working with the Department of Tourism, Lazatin aims to catapult the Philippines to the top spot of the best tourist destinations in the world, claiming the success of the endeavour will urge more foreign visitors. Lazatin markets the Clark Freeport Zone as the perfect site to build the world renowned theme park. He writes, “The Clark Freeport Zone may interest you and Walt Disney as the next location for your famous Disneyland theme park, as it boasts of a 4,400-hectare main zone and 27,600-hectare subzone.”
Moreover, he mentions how this project will also benefit Walt Disney, referring to Clark Freeport Zone’s tax free privilege for developers, and the already prolific tourist status in the Philippines. An estimated 4 million foreigners visit the country per year. In the letter, he wrote, "Together with our population of more than 90 million Filipinos, a Disneyland theme park in the Philippines could be a major income generating site for your company."
In another letter to DOT Chairman Ramon Jimenez, Lazatin explains, “I notified (Walt Disney) that Clark Freeport Zone also has its own world-class airport and hotels which can accommodate the influx of foreign and local tourists".
In Philippines, the news received mixed reactions, with many debating the practicality and success of the plan amidst widespread poverty in the country".
The other wish is coming from Thailand as the Association of Thai Travel Agents claims a proposal to build in Thailand a Disneyland-like theme park has been presented to Yingluck Shinawatra, Thailand prime minister: "ATTA president, Sisdivachr Cheewarattaporn, told TTR Weekly that Thailand’s tourism industry needed a mega project to compete with neigbouring countries particularly as the ASEAN single market 2015 is approaching. “We have talked to Prime Minister Yingluck, last week and hope our suggestion will be taken on board by the government to create a new dimension in tourism for the country.”
However, he admitted it was just at the idea stage and far from even gaining Disneyland’s attention.
“We expect the government to look at the feasibility and financial support….if the project can give benefits for the country then the government should seek a project developer who could invest at least Bt20 billion.” When challenged on whether Thailand needs to go down the theme park road to build tourism success, he said the country has many attractions such as beaches, heritage and historical sites, but very few man-made attractions. “Thailand lacks man-made attractions that are helping Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia to expand their tourism basees.”
Disneyland has not been approached yet or shown an expression of interest in building a theme park in Thailand, but in the past it did look at the potential and decided to develop its first project in Tokyo before concentrating on parks near or in China".
If you want my opinion, i think that the WDC will not be interested to build a theme park either in Thailand or Philippines. In Philippines, it'll be for the reasons explained above - the country poverty. For Thailand, the situation is a bit different. Thais are not as rich as japanese can be but there is plenty of very rich people in the country and also a Disney theme park will be very popular. And, considering that there is 10M + tourists coming each year in Thailand from rich countries, my guess is that a Disney theme park in Thailand could be as successful at least as Universal Singapore is in Singapore. But the problem is that Bangkok is just at 2H30min flight from Hong Kong Disneyland, and i don't see the WDC opening another theme park in a country so near from Hong Kong - not to mention that Disney have plenty of other things to think right now with the construction of Shanghaî DIsneyland... Disney also don't do what Universal has done in Singapore and may be soon in Moscow. In Singapore, Universal don't own the park, they just gave a license to a Singapour company, and Disney is not doing that.
But if Thailand and Philippines want a fantastic theme park which would cost half of the Disney price they still can have it. There is plenty of former WDI Imagineers not working anymore at the company extremely talented. They have the best experience in theme park design that one can dream of and i'm sure they will be pleased to design a great theme park for these two Asian countries!
Picture: copyright Disney