Disney gives Ernest thought to Asian expansion
Written by Patrick Frater and Mark Schilling
Thursday, 17 April 2008
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Wednesday announced elevation of Bill Ernest to President and Managing Director, Asia. But it denied plans for imminent theme park expansion.
Company said that the newly created position indicates that WDPR is putting new emphasis on Asia, including South East Asia. Ernest is currently head of the Hong Kong Disneyland park which was launched in September 2005.
"This promotion is a testament to Bill’s leadership, his instrumental role in opening Hong Kong Disneyland, and also underscores the company’s commitment to international growth, especially in this region," Jay Rasulo, chairman of WDPR, said.
WDPR played down any connection with statements made Tuesday about expansion into South East Asia by the boss of Tokyo Disneyland.
Speaking at celebrations for the Tokyo park's 25th anniversary Toshio Kagami, chairman of Oriental Land, which operates the park as a franchise, said that the company wanted to operate a park outside Japan – and added that SE Asia was its top priority. Kagami did not specify that he wanted to open a Disney-themed park.
"We're celebrating our 25th anniversary and Mr. Kagami was speaking about new challenges for our next 25 years," the spokesman explained Wednesday. "A park outside Japan is one possible challenge, though nothing has been decided yet."