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Hope Ahead for Hong Kong Disneyland

Posted by: Bruce Einhorn on January 19, 2010

Hong Kong Disneyland has come out with its results for the year ending September 2009, and the ailing theme park has some good news to report. The joint venture between Disney and the Hong Kong government suffered a net loss of $169 million, a 16% improvement over 2008. The park, which opened in 2005, had a 2% increase in visitors, to 4.6 million. Not bad, considering the economic crisis.

That’s still 1 million visitors shy of the park’s initial target of 5.6 million, though, and Hong Kong Disneyland isn’t likely to reach that number for many years. The results deserve an asterisk, too, as my Bloomberg News colleagues report: “The park’s fiscal year ends on the Saturday closest to or on Sept. 30 with an exception every six years, such as in 2009, when it comprises a 53-week period.” So the park had an increase in attendance, but the year was longer.

There’s still hope for Hong Kong Disneyland. A big expansion is in the works, with three new “lands” scheduled to open in 2014. That $450 million project should go a long way toward solving the attendance problem, since Hong Kong Disneyland now is the smallest of the Disney parks and there’s just not enough to do. (Sure, the lines are short so you can ride on Space Mountain many times in one day, but even that can get old pretty quickly.)

As Disney pushes ahead with long-awaited plans to build a park in Shanghai, too, don’t expect to hear much about it. The Hong Kong venture had to reveal the embarrassing numbers because of demands from members of the Legislative Council, many of whom have been critical of the project from the get-go and were reluctant to approve the additional spending for the park’s expansion. In China, Disneyland executives won’t need to worry about inquisitive lawmakers demanding transparency.

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