Disneyland hopes summer pass will work magic
Hong Kong Disneyland has introduced an unlimited-visit summer pass to stimulate business going into the last quarter of its first year.
Disney managing director Bill Ernest said Monday holders of the new passes "own the right to come back whenever they like."
Asked if the theme park would reach its forecast 5.6 million annual visitors with the summer pass, Ernest said Disney "is here to establish a permanent theme park and to make the theme park become part of people's lives."
He added: "Guests can enjoy greater flexibility with this pass, because some of them might go to the theme park in the evening, only for the fireworks." Except for the park's first anniversary, September 12, local and overseas visitors holding summer passes can enter the theme park as many times as they like from Saturday until September 28, including Sundays and public holidays.
The passes cost HK$450 for adults, HK$320 for children aged three-11, and HK$270 for elderly aged 65 or above - which is 1 times the normal ticket price.
The main users of summer passes are expected to be locals, Ernest said.
The park's closing time will be extended from 9pm to 10pm.
Ocean Park chairman Allan Zeman said Disney's move is "just a promotion strategy. They want to make the business better and boost the visitor numbers. I hope it works."
But Charles Ng Kwong-wai, chairman of the Inbound Tours Operators Association, said the marketing campaign will not benefit tourism development, or lead to a substantial growth in visitor numbers. "Even holders of annual passes to Ocean Park, which has a greater variety of entertainment, normally visit only two to three times in six months," Ng said.
Rather, Disney should offer the local inbound travel trade greater discounts, allowing them to do more promotion overseas, which would help raise the number of non-Hong Kong visitors.
Ocean Park offers 20 percent discount to local travel agents, while Disney offers 10 percent.
Zeman estimates guests will only visit Disneyland twice in three months with its summer pass. Ernest said the park's three new attractions in Tomorrowland - Autopia, Stitch Encounter and UFO Zone - will open in July.
The summer pass will not erode revenues for Disney, Ernest said, as much of the company's earnings come also from merchandise and food. Disney has sold more than nine million items of merchandise since it opened.
The theme park is doing a lot of wedding business as well, Ernest said. "There will be three couples getting married in our hotels this weekend," he added.
Zeman said a greater portion of Ocean Park's revenue comes from the gate, with Disney relying more on shop and restaurant sales. Depending on the success of the summer pass, Disney might introduce an annual pass after October, Ernest said.