Hong Kong Disneyland, a major showcase of Disney entertainment for mainland China, celebrated its second anniversary Wednesday amid disappointing attendance and reported labor problems.
The park, which opened on Sept. 12, 2005, drew 5.2 million guests in its first year, 400,000 short of its target of 5.6 million.
Park officials have been secretive about attendance figures. They haven't announced second-year numbers, but The Walt Disney Co. (DIS) revealed disappointing earnings results for Hong Kong Disneyland in its quarterly reports this year.
Disney said the park's operating income dropped in both the first and second quarters, curtailing overall growth for its parks and resorts division. The company said Hong Kong Disneyland suffered from lower attendance and guest spending in the first quarter.
Local media reports estimate that up to 4.8 million visited the park in its second year.
Separately, the South China Morning Post reported Wednesday that a survey conducted by the Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members' Union of 470 Hong Kong Disneyland workers said 63% were unhappy with management.
The report also quoted a recent newsletter from the union as accusing Hong Kong Disneyland management of unfair firings, rude behavior and banning workers from medical appointments during work hours.
A union spokeswoman didn't immediately return a reporter's call seeking confirmation of the report.
Hong Kong Disneyland has also drawn scrutiny because it's a major government investment. Hong Kong taxpayers shouldered most of the US$3.5 billion construction cost and own a 57% stake in the joint venture with Disney.
The Hong Kong government on Tuesday affirmed Hong Kong Disneyland's value.
Spokeswoman Cynthia Tong at the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau called the park "an important piece of travel infrastructure" that helped cultivate Hong Kong as a family tourism destination, but added that the government would welcome any measures to boost attendance.
Hong Kong Disneyland said in a statement the theme park was one of the most visited in the world. It said it won't reveal attendance figures but said that it was welcomed "many guests" who have given "consistently high" ratings.
It countered the Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members' Union's reported survey with its own, saying it found in a poll of more then 1,000 workers that 92% felt they were treated with respect at the park.
The pro-government Hong Kong newspaper Wen Wei Po urged both the government and park management to do more in an editorial published Thursday.
"As the major shareholder, the government can't ignore Hong Kong Disneyland's predicament. It should try to help the park solve its problems and get through its difficulties. At the same time, park management should reflect on its deficiencies, learn its lessons and launch comprehensive, pro-active reforms," the editorial said.