The Wild West is going farther west. So far west that it’s the far east.
The newest roller coaster announced for Hong Kong Disneyland is Big Grizzly Mountain. Set to open in 2012, it will be the main attraction in Grizzly Trail — Hong Kong’s version of the original park’s Frontierland.
The ride follows a runaway mine train through the mining town of Grizzly Gulch, which comes decked out with a stagecoach, a jailhouse, and the world’s largest nugget of gold — plus the ubiquitous audio-animatronic bears, of course. Disney legend has it that Grizzly Gulch was founded by gold prospectors on August 8, 1888 — all of the eights make it the luckiest day, month, and year in Chinese culture.
Big Grizzly Mountain will be part roller coaster, part water ride — with geysers, leaking buildings, and a splashdown finale.
These are big days at the theme park. This ride is just part of a $500 million expansion that will add on three new theme lands — Grizzly Trail, Mystic Point, and Toy Story Land — to increase the size of the park by 23%.
According to the operations manager of Hong Kong’s Disneyland, the leading cause of ride stoppages is weather. Nearly seventy percent of all prematurely stopped rides are due to high winds, lightning, or rainfall. But that does not mean that there are not other reasons for cutting the fun short. One of the largest reasons, besides weather, is bad behavior.
According to the park: “The human causes include standing up during rides to take photographs, striking backdrops with umbrellas, or noticeably terrified children being forced onto rides by parents.” So, think twice before dragging Junior on to the super-coaster.
The safety-first rules occasionally cause confrontations between park staff and unruly guests. Staff have recently received training in dealing with guests who don’t know or care about the rules.
The park’s most time consuming task is not enforcing its safety code or watching the skies. It is the nightly inspection of rides, bolt by bolt, that eats away most of the Mouse’s security budget.