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  1. #1

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    HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06


    Hong Kong Mickey Mouse should be really worried about people like Shum Nai-ho.
    The middle-aged man from southern China could have ridden Space Mountain or posed for photos with Donald Duck at the new Hong Kong Disneyland, which was expected to be a top attraction for mainland Chinese.

    Instead, Shum took his wife and daughter to Hong Kong Ocean Park, a 29-year-old marine-themed park many thought would be wiped out by the time Disneyland celebrates its first anniversary this Tuesday.

    Just the opposite has happened. In the past year, Ocean Park has experienced its largest attendance boom ever, luring customers with its cheaper ticket prices and diverse attractions like dolphin shows and a cable car ride with stunning views of the South China Sea.

    "We didn't try the rides and just strolled around, but it was fun," said Shum, who's from the city of Guangzhou. "Many people tell me I should try Disneyland instead, but I heard it's small and there aren't enough things to do there."

    Walt Disney Co., hoping to tap into China's huge market, has struggled a bit in its debut year in Hong Kong. Its park hasn't quite reached its first-year attendance goal of 5.6 million, and its had some hiccups along the way.

    Disneyland's image was dealt a blow in February, when the park had to turn away thousands of Chinese tourists who bought tickets during the peak Lunar New Year holidays. TV viewers were not impressed with the footage of angry visitors besieging the overcrowded park, rattling its gates and forcing themselves in.

    Another factor may be that most mainland Chinese don't have a strong attachment to Mickey and friends.

    "If you haven't grown up with the brand, its characters and themes, you're not quite sure what you're walking into," said Hong Kong Disneyland's managing director Bill Ernest, who stressed the park is working hard to learn what Chinese want.

    "We realized we needed more educational materials out in the market," he said.
    But such adjustments are to be expected initially, said John Ap, a professor of hotel and tourism management at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. He pointed out that both the Tokyo and Paris Disneylands faced initial difficulties but are now doing fine.

    "Disney's challenges are mainly in the software, like understanding the Asian mind-set and Chinese consumer culture," Ap said. "You've got to put it in perspective."
    But one of Disney's biggest — and most unexpected — challenges has come from Ocean Park.

    The park, which sprawls across both sides of a mountain in southern Hong Kong, was overhauled a few years ago in preparation for Disney's arrival. Ocean Park knows its strengths — a hybrid of thrills and animals, fun and education — and sells them well, said Allan Zeman, the park's flamboyant chairman.

    "Disney is all about fantasy, cartoons, castles," he said. "What's Ocean Park? It's real. It has real animals, real fish."

    It has pulled in more than 4.03 million visitors so far this year, Zeman said, already more than the 4 million people who came last year. That's the best visitor count the park has seen since opening in 1977, and Forbes magazine recently named the park one of the world's 10 most popular amusement parks. Disney has declined comment about Ocean Park.

    Some have decided that Hong Kong Disneyland may not be worth its steep entry fee — US$37.90 to US$45 (€29.80 to €35.40) — compared to Ocean Park, which costs US$23.80 (€18.70) to enter.

    Ocean Park is also more centrally located than Disneyland, which is built on the lush Lantau Island 30 minutes away from downtown Hong Kong.

    Owned by a nonprofit organization, Ocean Park hasn't always been so popular. Just before 2000 it was an aging, poorly maintained attraction, and business was so poor that it was on the verge of being closed down.

    A facelift complete with new management and upgraded food outlets injected new life into the park a few years ago. Ocean Park now has a new jellyfish house and five annual events — including a Halloween bash that proved a huge success — on top of its popular pandas, giant aquarium, and cable car ride.

    "If we didn't have the goods, people wouldn't come," he said. "I don't want to out-Disney Disney, and we can't because they're good at what they do."
    Some visitors have been disappointed in the size of Hong Kong Disneyland, the smallest among other Disney parks at 126 hectares (310 acres).

    Although it has plans to add new attractions, many Chinese appear to have taken a "wait-and-see" attitude, especially with reports that a bigger Disneyland in Shanghai may be in the works. Disney has said it is in talks with Shanghai authorities about building a park in the city, but that no agreement had been reached.

    Undaunted by the new competition, Zeman has big plans for Ocean Park. He wants it to become the world's best marine-themed park, and an ambitious revamp and expansion worth US$707 million (€556 million) is slated to start at the end of this year.

    By 2010, the park will have brought in three new hotels, more animals — including a killer whale and penguins — and doubled its current 35 attractions. It will be able to handle 53,600 visitors a day.

    "We have so many exciting things planned," Zeman said. "I'm pretty confident we'll keep appealing to both locals and tourists."


    Source: International Herald Tribune

  2. #2

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    If TWDC can’t build a quality theme park in Hong Kong, I don’t think it can do a good job in Shanghai. There are many empty land slots around the existing HKDL but TWDC still has no plan to speed up the phase I expansion.

    So, even though there is a huge land reserved for the SHDL project, no one can say the park will be a bigger one until we saw the plan. Don't forget it is the TWDC’s strategy to build budget parks and I have not yet seen any indicators for a change.

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    I couldn't agree more. They obviously have no intention to expand the park. I don't think they are even playing close enough attention to how this park is taking away from HKDL. Their attention is focused on another site and another park, yet they can't even get HKDL off the ground. Disney has to stop assuming that it will turn out like Disneyland Paris and become the #1 tourist destination in Hong Kong a few years down the road. Forget about Shanghai for now, and FOCUS on the damn Hong Kong property. I am getting so frustrated with how they are handling this. And I'm sure Jay Rasulo is behind most of it. Fueling them his marketing crap and telling them to adjust ticket prices..."and that everything will be fine once we fine-tune prices and marketing."

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    Agree. Peoples in Hong Kong / China do not hate Disney theme. The biggest challenge is people here think the park doesn’t value for money. If expansion cannot be completed shortly then price cut is the only way to make people think it is worth to be a paid guest. I know it reduces the revenue but at least it costs less the than the existing staff admission program (1 millions free tickets = 38 millions revenue).

    My suggestions are:
    • Cut the admission price for 20%: Adult admission HK$238 (Weekday) / HK$280 (Weekend)
    • Provide a further 15% group discount for 30 tickets or more, and 20% group discount for 100 tickets or more.
    • Enhance the reseller program and to provide 20% - 30% rebate to travel agents (subject to the number of tickets and hotel rooms sold by the agent in a specific time frame). We should understand that travel agents are the most important sales channel in the mainland China. Trust me if they get more rebate they will bad mouth Ocean Park and then attract their customers to HKDL.
    • Cancel the staff admission program and to replace it by a 15% staff discount on tickets.
    • Free admission for any person on their birthday. Ocean Park is doing the same and it is proven to be so success. People bringing their friends to the park for celebration and they will spend more on their birthday meal and birthday gifts.
    • Set up a point system - Guests may earn “points” when they spend on merchandise and food items in the park. Once they have collected enough points they will enjoy another free admission / big discount on admission.
    Just my two cents.

  5. #5

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9

    I agree that HKDL should cut its prices. It has been offering special half price packages to taxi drivers, travel agents, then season prices and double entry for the price of one...etc, but it should just come out honestly and say we made a mistake on the ticket pricing and now we will cut it.

    The money people save on entry will eventually be spent back on the merchanidize and food inside the park and the hotels.

    I don't want travel agents to bad mouth Ocean Park, as much as I don't want them to bad mouth HKDL. I want travel agents to say, "Both are fabulous and you should stay an extra day and visit both of them."

  6. #6

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    Well, part of it makes me wonder if it's not Disney but the consumer. Disney has always founded on a tradition that people will pay a reasonably higher price for better quality. Such as people choosing Walt's Disneyland over something dirty and unattractive like Coney Island in the 50s when Disneyland opened. Those parks were the reason why Walt made Disneyland anyway, he thought they were of poor quality.

    It could be very likely that HKDL is priced too high. But it could be also that a lot of people in Hong Kong would prefer Coney Island? Which is to say, would the people there place such a high priority on cost that what you get for the money is irrelevant?

    I'm not trying to trash Ocean Park, it's a mediocore park in a great location but it's certainly not a terrible one like Dreamland or that thing in Egypt. I'm also not trying to stereotype Chinese, but what I'm seeing here if these positive stories about Ocean are true is that people don't care how clean the streets are, or that the lightbulbs are all lit and working, or whether the buildings have been repainted this year. Ocean seems to have a popularity surge just because it's "the cheap one."

    Combine that China's economic motto largely revolves around creating products that can be the absolute cheapest available on the market, and it makes one wonder.

    Before I step into the mud of stereotyping people, perhaps HongKongDisneyland or someone else with experience in China/HK culture can answer me here?

  7. #7

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    I have been to Ocean Park many times and it has never lacked quality.

    I have also been to HKDL and I think HKDL is a great park, but I also think HKOP is great. They are different.

    But I am not comfortable with the media comparing them to each other all the time as if it was some death match. I think they complement each other very well. I think they, together, make HK a more attractive tourist destination.

    Those who have been to HKOP, they should comeback for HKDL. Those who have been to HKDL, they should go to HKOP. For those who can afford it, they should stay longer and visit both.

    The idea behind developing both parks is to make HK a family vacation destination and make people want to stay longer. Not a death match between the two.

    People in HK have this mind set of a death match because when HKOP opened, Lai Yuen and Kai Tak amusement parks (more like funfairs actually) closed soon after due to low tickets sales. But HKDL and HKOP are not like that.

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    Furthermore, Ocean Park has a excellent gondola ride which HKDL lacks. Am I wrong?

  9. #9

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9

    Actually, if HKOP was run by Disney, it would have become two theme parks instead of one. HKOP is like 2-3 times larger than HKDL.

    It has all the attractions plus one of the largest aquariums in the world, a long gondola ride, dolphin shows, roller-coasters, giant pandas, bird park...etc.

    But people forget that HKOP was not build overnight. It was opened in 1977 and it became what it is today through years of hard work and development. (When it first opened it was a small park with no gondola rides, no roller coasters...etc.) On the other hand, HKDL only had one year. I think the HK public are just showing off their usual impatient attitudes again.

  10. #10

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    HKOP has the cable cars, but then, 5 minutes from HKDL you can now go to Ngong Peng and ride a terrifying cable car. (Too High, with very high winds at times.)
    I feel I have to reply to one of the comments made earlier. I bought annual passes for HKOP last year for my daughter. I hate the place. It is filthy, the workers don't smile, and I don't think good family entertainment is having characters in costume beating eachother up. (Ocean Theater.) My 4 year old told me they were too naughty and we left the show. The food is not cheap at HKOP. I can't see spending $14 for an icecream cone you can get in any 7-11 for $4. I don't mind the $15 for the mickey shaped ice-cream at disney. At least it looks like something and the packaging is appealing. Nestle's ice cream drumsticks! Come on!
    The lines are long at HKOP as well. This summer we waited over 2 hours for the log ride thing, and another 90 minutes to go up the tower.
    People here complain without thinking.
    I'm an expat and I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. I bought a keychain doll at HKOP and within a week of being banged around on the schoolbag it was gone. Minnie mouse has been there since November 2005.
    The staff at Disney are wonderful, and yes you have to wait in line, but it is no longer than HKOP. Family entertainment is family entertainment. No violence, except what comes from the tourists.
    If I have a problem at HKDL I talk to a member of staff and something is done to correct the problem. At HKOP I get the standard answer of "No Englishe lady!" Even when I speak Cantonese!
    I would rather spend $2000 on an annual pass at HKDL than $500 at HKOP. Better value for money in my book. And, best of all, it is the cleanest place in HK. It reminds me that there are still civilized places on this side of the globe.

  11. #11

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9

    Quote Originally Posted by Katsmom View Post
    HKOP has the cable cars, but then, 5 minutes from HKDL you can now go to Ngong Peng and ride a terrifying cable car. (Too High, with very high winds at times.)
    I feel I have to reply to one of the comments made earlier. I bought annual passes for HKOP last year for my daughter. I hate the place. It is filthy, the workers don't smile, and I don't think good family entertainment is having characters in costume beating eachother up. (Ocean Theater.) My 4 year old told me they were too naughty and we left the show. The food is not cheap at HKOP. I can't see spending $14 for an icecream cone you can get in any 7-11 for $4. I don't mind the $15 for the mickey shaped ice-cream at disney. At least it looks like something and the packaging is appealing. Nestle's ice cream drumsticks! Come on!
    The lines are long at HKOP as well. This summer we waited over 2 hours for the log ride thing, and another 90 minutes to go up the tower.
    People here complain without thinking.
    I'm an expat and I firmly believe that you get what you pay for. I bought a keychain doll at HKOP and within a week of being banged around on the schoolbag it was gone. Minnie mouse has been there since November 2005.
    The staff at Disney are wonderful, and yes you have to wait in line, but it is no longer than HKOP. Family entertainment is family entertainment. No violence, except what comes from the tourists.
    If I have a problem at HKDL I talk to a member of staff and something is done to correct the problem. At HKOP I get the standard answer of "No Englishe lady!" Even when I speak Cantonese!
    I would rather spend $2000 on an annual pass at HKDL than $500 at HKOP. Better value for money in my book. And, best of all, it is the cleanest place in HK. It reminds me that there are still civilized places on this side of the globe.
    AHH!!! Totally Agree With everything,

    When myself and a friend went to Hong kong for 2 weeks in July we went to HKOP one day, thought it'd be ok no disney but better than the crappy carney parks we have in Australia. WRONG!!

    Dirty place, Overpriced for Generic items with no Exclusivity to the Park.

    Terrible lines, we got there at opening and went to the mine train already a 45min wait, we waited by the time we got off it was 90 minutes!! and ONLY 1 Train Running!!!!! how stupid can they be!

    the place is very run down, dirty and stuck in the colors and themeing of 1992.

    As much as i enjoyed the whiplash i got from that crappy Dragon
    Coaster, no thanks...

    The gondola was the best part! and we took it on our way to the exit. the staff were rude as well.

    We planned to spend 2 days of our 2 weeks at Ocean PArk, cause we love COasters and Theme parks in general. But we spent one day instead and ended up spending 3 1/2 days at HKDL instead which we LOVED!! single rider on Space mountain 10 rides in a row in 1/2 hour AWSOME!!!! and the staff were amazing and it was so clean it just reminded me of DL and WDW which i had been missing!

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    Re: HKDL facing unexpectedly tough competition from local fixture Ocean Park,IHT,10-9-06

    Good to hear Disneyland is clean and the staff is friendly.

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