Theme park out to cement its attraction

PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 May, 2012, 12:00am

Hong Kong's Disneyland will open its newest attraction - a high-speed roller coaster and themed area based on the California gold rush - in July.

Grizzly Gulch is the second of a three-stage expansion following Toy Story Land, which opened late last year. The third part, Mystic Point, is scheduled to open next year.

The Grizzly Gulch ride will speed around a 27-metre hill dotted with artificial bears that move and geysers that spray water. The mountain, the centrepiece of the themed area, is almost finished after 30 sculptors and 20 painters worked on it for eight hours a day over the past 14 months.

The team visited California's Sierra Nevada Mountains and Yellowstone National Park before starting work.

A town from the gold rush days of the 1840s and 1850s has been built around the mountain.

'This is based on an actual location in Northern California,' Ali Rubinstein, creator director of Walt Disney Imagineering HK, said. 'That is the biggest challenge, recreating an environment that actually exists.'

Rocks on the mountain seem rough and eroded, but none of them are real. Instead, 3,850 tonnes of cement were used to create them. Even the bricks and 'wooden' logs at the site are made from cement.

'The real mountain is covered by sandstone, but it is too difficult to carve and too heavy to transport to Hong Kong,' principal production designer Tomohiro Mamiya said.

Instead, the team used a special, relatively soft cement to shape the mountain's features. It is also structurally safer: the cement used to make the mountain is as strong as any cement used to build houses.

To make the mountain look realistic, designers went through several exhaustive stages, including sketching, model-making, three-dimensional computer scans and adding authentic finishing touches.

Two hundred people will be hired this month to run Grizzly Gulch.

Technicians are still testing the cars that will take visitors around the mountain on a 21/2 minute ride.


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