A Modest Boost for Hong Kong Disneyland

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on December 11, 2008

Attendance at Disney’s Hong Kong theme park rose 8% in the year ended September. A spokesman for Hong Kong Disneyland (a joint venture between Disney and the Hong Kong govenrment) confirms a report in today’s South China Morning Post, citing government statistics, on the attendance figure. While the company won’t say the number of people who visited Hong Kong’s Magic Kingdom in the 2007-08 fiscal year, the SCMP reports the park had over 4.5 million. That’s certainly better than the 4.17 million the previous year but still far below the 5.2 million in the park’s first year, 2005-06. And it’s nowhere close to the 5.6 million the SCMP, citing unnamed sources, predicted a few months ago.

By now, I think it’s pretty well established what the biggest problem is: Hong Kong Disneyland is quite small, much smaller than other Disney parks. There’s just not that much for a family to do there. When I take my kids, we easily cover all the attractions they care about in one day. And then some: Usually we go on Space Mountain several times. There’s no way you can do that in, say, Anaheim.

I’m not going to go over again the problems Hong Kong Disneyland has suffered. (For more on the park’s history, see this BusinessWeek story and this BusinessWeek blog post.) Clearly, the park is still recovering from those setbacks. The Disneyland spokesman (who, because of company policy, requested not to be named) says the company is “still in discussion with the government about expansion” but wouldn’t say more on the subject.

One bit of good news: The Chinese government is going to liberalize visa rules to make it easier for residents of Shenzhen to visit the park. Till now, people who live in Shenzhen but originally came from elsewhere in China have needed to return to those other locations to apply for visas to go on group tours to Hong Kong Disneyland, says the park spokesman. Under new rules going into effect soon, they’ll be able to apply locally.

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