The Hong Kong park has also been affected by a rodent infestation … (Disney Company)

Disneyland Hong Kong plans $1.4bn expansion amid first loss in four years

24 November 2016 | By GCR Staff 0 Comments

Hong Kong Disneyland is to spend $1.4bn on a six-year expansion programme that will bring together quarrelling sisters Elsa and Anna from Frozen with Tony Stark, aka Ironman, from the Marvel Universe. This time their joint mission will be to halt losses at the theme park on Lantau Island.

The park suffered a loss of $19m in the year ending October 2015, its first loss in four years, while visitor numbers were down 9.3%, reports South China Morning Post.

A combination of weaker growth on the mainland, political tensions in Hong Kong, and competition from the new Disneyland Shanghai, said to be three times bigger, have been blamed for the fall in visitor numbers.

The works will increase the park’s attractions from 110 to 130 between 2018 and 2023. About half of the cost will be met by the Hong Kong government, which owns 53% of the park, if the territory’s legislative council approves; the remainder will be paid for by the Walt Disney Company.

Gregory So, Hong Kong’s commerce secretary, said the expansion was a strategic development to attract tourists who would stay overnight and spend more. He was speaking at a joint briefing with Disney that featured actresses posing as Elsa and Anna.

This Disneyland is the smallest of the company’s six resorts, and the expansion reflects concern that it lacks the variety of attractions needed to compete.

Shanghai Disneyland earlier this month announced the start of an expansion plan just four months after opening its doors in June. Officials claimed the move was based on higher-than-expected demand.

However, an analysis by the South China Morning Post suggests that visitor number have been lower in Shanghai than initial predictions.

He Jianmin, director of the tourism management department at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, estimates about 20,000 people are visiting daily. South China Morning Post comments that those healthy-sounding numbers are only about half what was projected. In this case, the blame has been put on high prices and rumours of long queuing times.

Disney and the state-owned Shanghai Shendi Group had been counting on the immense, and rapidly growing, Chinese middle class to guarantee the resort’s success. However, it seems that peak season ticket prices of 499 yuan ($72) are too high.

SCMP comments that although this is low compared with the $95 charged at Los Angeles and the $64 in Hong Kong, monthly per capita disposable income in China is much less than those locations, at $280 a month.

Image: As with other Disneylands, Hong Kong has been affected by a rodent infestation … (Disney Company)