Mickey must keep up the magic - The Standard
Monday, December 30, 2013
Hong Kong's two theme parks did well during Christmas. A friend of mine decided to spend the holidays here but could not get a room at the Disneyland hotels. He later found that due to great demand, one would have to call at least a few months ahead.
When the park opened in 2005, its performance was disappointing, but after management localization and shareholding restructuring, things have turned around.
Business has been further boosted since the mainland introduced the individual visit scheme in 2003.
The concern now is not patronage levels, but whether the park is expanding fast enough to meet the rising number of visitors.
Demand is expected to shoot up further when the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge begins operation in two years or so.
To prepare for the opening of the bridge, Zhuhai is earnestly pushing forward its Hengqin development, which will include a large theme park. That facility will become a new tourist attraction, but it is not expected to have a direct impact on Hong Kong Disneyland due to the latter's brand advantage.
Meanwhile, the Shanghai Disney Resort, which is to open in 2015, will serve the market in the north, as opposed to Hong Kong Disneyland that serves clientele from South China and Southeast Asia.
Both resorts are managed by the Asia section of the Walt Disney Company, but as the Shanghai park will be larger and charge admission in yuan, its turnover may easily overtake the one in Hong Kong.
If Hong Kong Disneyland does not want to lag too much, it must start investing in expansion as soon as possible.
But as the government is a shareholder, any additional fund injection will have to get the approval of the Legislative Council, which is a protracted process.
Someone observed that since the theme park is good business, and with new competition looming near, significant expansion would already be well under way had the same situation happened in Singapore.
But in Hong Kong today, we can expect the usual dilly-dallying.
Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily.