On 16 November, state executive councilman Jailani Khamis (in charge of tourism and culture) announced that a new Disneyland theme park would be opening in Melaka, Malaysia in 2027.
According to Melaka Hari Ini, it, accompanying Disney City, would be the biggest theme park in Southeast Asia, being built on 80.9 hectares of land, with a price tag of around RM2 billion (~S$600 million).
Shiok. Finally can travel across border for something other than cheaper petrol.
Unfortunately, that’s not going to be happening anymore.
CNN Digital’s Asia Writer Heather Chen has managed to get in touch with Disney officials and they’ve debunked the myth.
In a tweet on Thursday (17 November), Chen announced that a Disney representative has told her that “it’s fake news and purely speculative.”
Since then, her tweet has been deleted at the order of Disney, but she has released a follow-up tweet saying that “the original clarification (she) made from reaching out and reporting still stands.
“There are no official plans for a Disney-themed park in Melaka, earlier reports were purely speculative and misinformed,” she wrote.
To clarify: My tweet has now been deleted on orders of Disney. But the original clarification I made from reaching out and reporting still stands — There are no official plans for a Disney themed park in Malacca, earlier reports were purely speculative and misinformed.
— Heather Chen (@heatherchen_) November 17, 2022
With all these allegations, Disney should have cleared the news rights? No. Disney has made no official announcement on its part to dispute the claim.
With the recent speculation, Jailani has said that the a press statement will be given on Friday (18 November).
Before the release of Chen’s tweet, excitement was in the air. Everyone was eager for the new attraction to be built and looked forward to the new developments.
Still, there were a few sharp-eyed sceptics who doubted the authenticity of the news.
However, after Chen released the news, everyone came to their senses.
Many voiced that “it doesn’t make sense for Disney to choose Malacca” and that the Malacca government “need to wake up.”
Some also had queries as to why Disney wanted the tweet to be deleted, which Chen replied by saying that they “didn’t want to be associated with the rumours.”
Why Were We Excited?
This was the announcement video released to the public:
Jailani said, “After more than 20 years, we will have our very own new theme park and even though it might not be so large I feel that it will be more than enough to live up to the Disneyland name which is an achievement and feat in itself to be brought to our shores.”
Disneyland is finally coming to Southeast Asia!
Not only is Melaka building a Disneyland, they will also be having a 22km-long “Maglev” transportation system which will connect Melaka’s tourist hotspots.
After witnessing the signing of memoranda of understanding for the development of the transportation system, Jailani spoke to reporters. He said the investment value for the Maglev line was estimated at RM900 million (~S$272 million).
For those who don’t know, a “Maglev” transportation system involved trains operating on an electromagnetic system.
Not only would Malaysia now boast a new, state-of-the-art tourist funhouse, it would also be home to a fantastic, cutting-edge transport system.
With all these promises, it’s hard not to get excited right?
Even before the myth was debunked, people had their suspicions.
First and foremost, the low cost. S$600 million might seem like a boatload, but compared to other Disney projects, it’s nothing. SoyaCincau reported that it cost almost 8 times that amount (RM15-16 million) to build Hong Kong and Shanghai Disneyland.
Putting that into perspective, the estimated cost of this project seems too good to be true.
Next, the lack of Disney representatives. You’d think that in the announcement of a Disneyland opening, Disney would at least send one representative down.
In the official announcement video, there were no Disney representatives among the bunch of ministers present.
Also, Mickey Mouse wasn’t present either, and from the past openings, Mickey, and even Minnie, was always present when there was a major Disneyland announcement.
Third, the wrong character. In the video, it showed a large Minion statue in the artist’s impression of the place. For those who are unaware, the Minions IP is owned by Illumination Entertainment, which in turn is co-owned by Universal Pictures. None of which are a part of, nor even fall under Disney.
That’s like an announcement about a Marvel movie, only to have Batman at the background.
Last but not least, the wrong castle. The video’s Disneyland castle, which was supposed to be of European architecture, looks more like The Sultan’s Palace from Aladdin.
Chen provided her own take on how the confusion came about, clarifying that the government merely wanted to have a theme park as big as Disneyland and not that a Disneyland would be built.
tbh I think this is where the confusion arose. A theme park **will** be built, as was said. But not like there’s a contract with Disney. Jailani just wants it to be big enough to attract Disney attention pic.twitter.com/OtJrP7Z7PG
— Heather Chen (@heatherchen_) November 17, 2022
Essentially, a theme park will be built, just without Disney’s legendary name.
As can be seen, Disneyland won’t be coming to Southeast Asia. Until then, all we can do is keep our palms together, close our eyes, and pray that someday Disney can one day reach our shores.
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