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  1. #1

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    Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary

    Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary

    Tuesday, September 12, 2006

    Poking his white-gloved mouse paws into the sides of a giggling child, Mickey's antics have brought delight in the world's newest Disneyland in Hong Kong which celebrates its first anniversary today.

    "I'm very happy," said 10-year-old Lucy Liao from Shanghai, visiting with her parents.

    But the laughter seems to stop there.
    Frustrated by overcrowding and long queues in the park, which is relatively small compared with Disney's other magic kingdoms, not all visitors are impressed.

    "It's below our expectations," said Lu Hongsheng from Hangzhou, who saved for months to bring his wife and eight-year-old daughter to the first Disneyland on Chinese soil.

    "There are too many people," he said, gesturing at the crowds stretching as far as Sleeping Beauty's castle 100 meters away.

    Managing the sensibilities of mainland tourists like the Lu family has been a crucial task for Disney as it tries to establish its business in China - estimated to be the world's fourth-largest source of outbound tourists by 2020.

    Opened last September, the park failed to hit its full-year 5.6 million visitors attendance target, but still managed to pull in more than five million guests. At least a third of them were from the mainland.

    But Disney has suffered a number of controversies, including a lockout of angry ticket holders during the crunch Lunar New Year holidays, and the public airing of grievances by its staff who complained of low wages and mistreatment.

    A public opinion survey in March found that 70 percent of Hong Kong people had negative impressions of Disney.

    "I think their fundamental problem is a software one, the inability to understand the Asian mind-set in terms of their customers and staff," said John Ap Tsim-hung, a theme park expert from Polytechnic University's School of Hotel and Tourism Management.

    Ap said many of the Disney guests were not interested in white-knuckle amusement park rides like Americans and Europeans. "Asians are a lot more conservative," he explained. Disney had also not adequately catered for the Chinese obsession for photo-taking, though a "Fantasy Gardens" attraction built in the Hong Kong park for this purpose was a good start, he added.

    Disney has downplayed these setbacks as "growing pains" and admitted there were cultural hurdles to be overcome.

    "Our biggest challenge going into China is that familiarity with the Disney brand is high, but familiarity with a Disney theme park is not necessarily so high," said Josh D'Amaro, Hong Kong Disneyland's head of Sales and Travel Trade Marketing. "There's a much more integrated marketing approach that needs to happen, there needs to be an education process. People need to understand what Buzz Lightyear is," D'Amaro said, referring to Disney's bionic toy character.

    With this in mind, Disney will launch a 10-15 minute "preshow" induction course at its Hong Kong theme park in the coming months to teach its guests about its characters, stories and park attractions. This crash course - a first for any Disneyland - is aimed at minimizing any cultural confusion.

    Disney has also strengthened its sales and marketing initiatives on the mainland, particularly in the south.

    An annual pass scheme, giving unlimited visits on one ticket will be introduced by Disney later in the year, aimed at encouraging repeat visits.
    Disney is targeting not just the local Hong Kong market, but the many affluent mainlanders now holding special travel documents allowing unlimited, visa-free visits to Hong Kong.

    "Bottom line and the name of the game is to encourage repeat visitation. If you're unable to do that, you're going to be in trouble. And I think that's the challenge Hong Kong Disneyland will have particularly with the mainland market," Ap said.

    But this task will be made difficult by the small park size, limited attractions and up to 90-minute waits for many rides including the Space Mountain roller coaster at peak times.

    While Disney struggles to adapt, its attempts to tap the lucrative mainland market are being shadowed by homegrown competitor Ocean Park.
    The 30-year-old theme park, modeled on Sea World in the United States with dolphin shows, panda enclosures and roller coasters has had a bumper year, drawing more than four million visitors.

    Forbes magazine ranked it the seventh most popular theme park in the world last year. The Disney park in Hong Kong was not included in the ranking because it had just started.

    Although it is not considered a direct competitor with Disney, according to Hong Kong's Travel Industry Council, almost 80 percent of tours from China, not including those from Guangdong province, visit Ocean Park as part of their itineraries. In contrast, Disney tends to be an optional day out.

    "Most tourists choose Ocean Park because it's been established for so long, especially in the mainland," said Paul Leung Yiu-lam, a director of the Hong Kong Travel Industry Council.

    Hong Kong drew a record 23 million tourists last year, drawn in part by new attractions like Disney. But many are still lured by the city's famed dining and shopping

    "We never heard of Disney [being in Hong Kong] before we came," said Daniel Santos from Australia watching the Golden Mickeys musical in Fantasyland. "We mainly came for the food, we love eating."

    While a series of high-profile extravaganzas have been planned for the first anniversary, last weekend's protests over poor wages suggest Disney's troubles are far from over.

    "We will protest until Disney stops exploiting Chinese workers," said Vivien Yau Tze-wei, a spokeswoman for Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior, a grassroots pressure group behind Sunday's protest.

    Dressed in animal costumes mocking Disney characters like Goofy and Captain Hook, SACOM protesters lobbied customers as they entered the park.

    The group says that during visits to factories that produce Disney merchandise in Shenzhen and Zhuhai, they built up a dossier of alleged labor infractions. "Workers are being underpaid, they don't even reach minimum wage levels," Yau said. "They are also being denied their weekend holidays.

    "We realize Disney is not the only company that contracts these factories, but if it made a stand then it would send a message to other abusive factories that it is time they changed their ways."

    Disney defended itself against claims of contracting work to irresponsible employers. "We have a strong International Labor Standards Code of Conduct for manufacturers and conduct regular social compliance audits of the independently run factories that produce Disney branded merchandise," it said.
    "When factory audits, or information otherwise brought to us by third parties, reveal noncompliance with our code, we seek to work with the factory and, if appropriate, the vendor or licensee concerned to develop a remediation plan to bring its operations into compliance with our code." AGENCIES
    Source: HK Standard News

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    Is anyone shocked about this?

    We could have told them that there was going to be problems without any of the major rides that people have come to expect such as: Potc, HM, iasw and the list goes on.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    So they don't want to come to HKDL for the rides but they are going to Ocean Park for the rides...yeah this isn't anti-HKDL is it?
    Last edited by tloolgb; 09-11-2006 at 05:56 PM.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    Quote Originally Posted by ni_teach View Post
    Is anyone shocked about this?

    We could have told them that there was going to be problems without any of the major rides that people have come to expect such as: Potc, HM, iasw and the list goes on.
    Frankly, my world view is completely collapsing. If we can't trust a bunch of over-paid number crunchers to make artistic and design decisions who can we trust?

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-1

    Frustrated by overcrowding and long queues in the park, which is relatively small compared with Disney's other magic kingdoms, not all visitors are impressed.
    News Story #1: HKDL is unpopular, being crushed by Ocean Park in attendance numbers.

    News Story #2: HKDL too crowded, lines are too long.


    "Waiter! The food here is terrible! And the portions are too small!"

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-1

    I think some of the HK media just have this hatred against HKDL because they were treated poorly last year.

    Disney is not a failure to my mind. What in the history of HK brought in 5 million visitors in its opening year?

    I cannot recall exactly but I strongly believe HKOP was smaller than HKDL when HKOP first opened in 1977.

    HKOP is great, but it took them 28 years to get to where they are now! HKDL had only the 1 year!!! Give me a break!

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-1

    Quote Originally Posted by Asa View Post
    I think some of the HK media just have this hatred against HKDL because they were treated poorly last year.

    Disney is not a failure to my mind. What in the history of HK brought in 5 million visitors in its opening year?

    I cannot recall exactly but I strongly believe HKOP was smaller than HKDL when HKOP first opened in 1977.

    HKOP is great, but it took them 28 years to get to where they are now! HKDL had only the 1 year!!! Give me a break!
    I don't know if I buy this agrument. Hong Kong Disneyland had 50 years behind it. Not to mention the difficulties associated with opening a park in Tokyo and Paris. This park is, if anything, extremely lucky. It was the same logic of "If we slap 'Disney' on it the people will come." that has resulted in other past disappointments.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    When you say you're a "Banana Split" and there's whipped cream and a cherry and no ice cream no banana underneath, you deserve what you get. They didn't fall for it. Nice try. Now get out the check book and build the rides that REAL Disneyland's have.
    "As usual he's taken over the coolest spot in the house"- Father re: Orville 1963

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    Damn it! They said it again! They still think that the problems they are having is because people don't know who Buzz Lightyear is. People's expectations are now low because they realize that Disney has half-assed it. Excuses, excuses. They still won't budge will they? They won't admit that the park was built with too many limitations. Perhaps if they think that if an expansion was approved they would be wrong, and again, the public be right. How many articles of these have been published since before it was opened that said over and over and over again that Disney isn' t offering much?
    Last edited by DisneyMickey; 09-11-2006 at 09:50 PM.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-1

    Quote Originally Posted by lazyboy97O View Post
    I don't know if I buy this agrument. Hong Kong Disneyland had 50 years behind it. Not to mention the difficulties associated with opening a park in Tokyo and Paris. This park is, if anything, extremely lucky. It was the same logic of "If we slap 'Disney' on it the people will come." that has resulted in other past disappointments.
    I went to the park and stayed at the hotel and I had a good time. Yes I never went to Disneyland in Anaheim or WDW or TDL before, and I only went to DL Paris when it first opened. I had a better time at HKDL than I had at DLP.

    OK I would not go again - at least not at full price - unless they have built a lot more attractions, but that does not mean it sucks. It needs to expand and it will annouce its expansion plans in October. Let's see what is has in mind then before we junk it. If Disney can fix DLP then it can fix HKDL.

    News just in: HKDL ran into trouble with the media again. It insisted that the media interview Bill Ernest in the rain; so of course the media boycotted the event, in the end the interview was held indoors.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-1

    Quote Originally Posted by Asa View Post
    News just in: HKDL ran into trouble with the media again. It insisted that the media interview Bill Ernest in the rain; so of course the media boycotted the event, in the end the interview was held indoors.
    That was stupid. I am not sure what the HKDL Public Relations team was thinking at the time but at least Bill Ernest should invite the press to continue the interview in a covered place such as a nearby restaurant.

    Come on, it is just common sense.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-1

    Quote Originally Posted by Asa View Post
    OK I would not go again - at least not at full price - unless they have built a lot more attractions, but that does not mean it sucks. It needs to expand and it will annouce its expansion plans in October. Let's see what is has in mind then before we junk it. If Disney can fix DLP then it can fix HKDL.
    But Disney hasn't fixed Disneyland Paris. Well, they did, but they turned around and shot themselves in the foot. Disney can't leep playing this "Disneyland open with little and grew and so will [insert park, land, attarction, hotel, etc]." Eventually the people will just not come at opening as the perception will be that it takes 10 years for Disney to deliver anything of substance.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    I guess one alternative for HK govt to consider would be to buy out Disney and operate the park under a Disney license, like Disneyland Tokyo, if that is still possible.

    That way we can have anything built in HKDL and built them much quicker!

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    Quote Originally Posted by Asa View Post
    I guess one alternative for HK govt to consider would be to buy out Disney and operate the park under a Disney license, like Disneyland Tokyo, if that is still possible.

    That way we can have anything built in HKDL and built them much quicker!
    I doubt Disney would offer a deal beneficial to the Hong Kong government or any business that may be interested in operating the parks. Disney is missing out on a share of the money that the Tokyo Disney Resort generates. I do agree though that the Tokyo Disney Resort model should be how Disney opens and operates parks outside of the United States. This should have been the first lesson learned from Euro Disney. Or at the very least a very independent subsidiary that is run entirely by locals.

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    Re: Disneyland finds little to celebrate on its anniversary,HK Standard News,2006-9-12

    Oy people,

    You can't just open a park with 60 rides and attractions. That would cost like 50 billion $$$ and would cut off any repeat bizz as you were to add new attractions.

    Sheeeez

    They've done this like 4 times now. DisneySeas didn't open with TDL. And neither did Epcot with TMK.

    Oh, and "I do agree though that the Tokyo Disney Resort model should be how Disney opens and operates parks outside of the United States"

    The point is, Disney DOESN'T RUN THIS PARK!! Never has from day one. They take a fee and license it to the Oriental Land Company. They make like 5% of the gate or something.

    thomas
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