Hong Kong Disneyland to have $500 million expansion

December 23rd, 2008 - 1:07 pm ICT by IANS  

Hong Kong, Dec 23 (DPA) Hong Kong’s struggling Disneyland theme park, the smallest Disney park in the world, is to grow by more than one third in a $500 million expansion, a news report said Tuesday.An extra 20 hectares of attractions and park are to be added to the site on Hong Kong’s Lantau island to combat losses and criticism that the three-year-old theme park does not have enough rides.

Hong Kong Disneyland managing director Andrew Kam said in an interview in Tuesday’s South China Morning Post that the expansion would increase the number of attractions at the park by more than one third.

He said three new themed areas would occupy around 12 of the 20-plus hectares, adding that negotiations were continuing with the Hong Kong government.

Construction of the new part of the park - which will be aimed at people in their 20s who account for around 50 percent of guests - is expected to take around three years, Kam told the newspaper.

Hong Kong Disneyland, which covers a total area of 120 hectares, opened in September 2005 and was funded largely by Hong Kong taxpayers in a joint venture between the government of the former British colony and the Walt Disney Company.

Visitor numbers have been disappointing and the expansion is expected to be funded by Disney, which also loaned the joint venture $420 million to repay commercial loans from 26 banks.

The park, which has refused to release official figures, is understood to have attracted around 4.5 million visitors from October 2007 to September this year against a pre-opening target of 6.22 million visitors.

It reportedly fell around 500,000 visitors short of its 5.7 million first-year target and then saw numbers plunge by more than 1 million in its second year of operations.

Disneyland launched a series of initiatives, including cut-price tickets for poor families and special deals for tour groups from mainland China, to try to boost attendances.

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