"Hong Kong Disneyland is aiming to unveil a major new attraction by late 2011 as long as a deal on expansion plans can be hammered out between Disney and the government and approved this year, sources say.
There were no details about the attraction as the plan could still change, depending on the final agreement between the two joint venture partners, the sources said. The government holds a 57 per cent stake in the amusement park.
However, there were fears the negotiations and often arduous Legislative Council approval process could not be completed this year, the sources said. This would mean the newest Disney park would not have had any major additions to its original roster of rides and attractions in its first five years of operation.
The theme park opened in September 2005 with major attractions such as Space Mountain and Jungle Cruise. Autopia was meant to be part of the opening roster but was added the following summer.
Hong Kong Disneyland's planned expansion would increase its size by more than a third and cost an estimated HK$3 billion to HK$4 billion. Three new themed "lands" would occupy about 12 of the 20-plus hectares available for development at the theme park site.
Adding major new rides is seen as key to improving the performance of the theme park, which is often perceived as having insufficient attractions to keep guests entertained for a whole day.
But attendance has grown at double-digit year-on-year rates every month since October, and visitor numbers are expected to continue improving during the peak Lunar New Year period, the sources said. Ticket presales so far for the holiday indicate larger attendance on the Lunar New Year's second day, which is usually less busy.
Aliana Ho, vice-president of sales and travel trade marketing, said the theme park was focusing resources on growing short-haul markets such as Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia as well as India."