Praying For Plenty Of Fairy Dust - Business Week 7/7/05
Article from Business Week available at businessweek.com - 7/7/05
Praying For Plenty Of Fairy Dust
There's little doubt that the park will boost tourism. More than 1.4 million visitors will come to Hong Kong Disneyland from China in the first year, the Hong Kong Tourism Board figures. Last year some 22 million tourists from around the world visited the city. But the park isn't going to become a record breaker overnight. Its projected attendance of 5.6 million in its first year will put it dead last among Disney's 11 theme parks worldwide. By comparison, the four parks in Orlando got 40.5 million visitors last year, while Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea together attracted 25.4 million. Disney, however, says it's more important to get things right early on, then work on attracting more visitors. "As attendance grows, we can expand quickly," says Don Robinson, Hong Kong Disneyland's group managing director. There's plenty of room for expansion near the 126-hectare park, he says, predicting eventual attendance of about 10 million a year.
Still, some critics say Hong Kong is overspending on the park. Disney will invest $316 million for a 43% stake. The Hong Kong government, by contrast, will get 57%, but it will pony up more than $2.9 billion for the park and infrastructure improvements related to it. "Disney is getting a very good deal," says John Ap, a professor of tourism at Hong Kong's Polytechnic University. "It has made 10% of the investment for a 43% share of the profits." He also questions whether Disney can keep the park full. A day pass for a typical family of two parents and one child will start at $103 -- a princely sum even in booming Guangdong province, across the border from Hong Kong, where the average urbanite's disposable income is just over $1,500 a year. "Repeat visitors could be hard to maintain, especially from the mainland market," Ap observes.