Meeting discusses Disney solutions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2006, 12:00am

Park suggests peak ticket changes, liaison with travel agents

The government yesterday expressed deep concern about the fallout from last week's chaos at Hong Kong Disneyland and the negative impact it was having on the local tourism industry and the city's image.

'We are very concerned about what happened at Hong Kong Disneyland last week when some customers were refused entry due to a sold-out park. We are also concerned about the impact of the incidents on the image of our tourism trade,' Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen said.

Government and theme park officials met for about four hours yesterday in one of their regular quarterly board meetings.

Throngs of frustrated visitors, many of whom were members of mainland tours, were locked out of the theme park last week and told their tickets did not guarantee entry on any one day. They had purchased flexible tickets, which are valid for six months but have less priority during crowded peak days. Date-specific tickets are only sold for holidays and special events.

Bill Ernest, executive vice-president and managing director of the theme park, was joined at yesterday's meeting by Disney executives, including Walt Disney Imagineering design executive vice-president Wing Chao.

'We talked specifically about the Christmas season and the Chinese New Year holidays,' Mr Ernest said.

Future arrangements to handle ticketing, visitor entry and peak or holiday periods at the park were also discussed at length, Mr Tang said. The financial secretary said that Disneyland had noted last week's incidents, learned from the experience and would implement changes.

Talks have also started with the travel industry. Hong Kong Association of Travel Agents chairman Michael Wu Siu-ieng met theme park officials yesterday to discuss ticketing arrangements for coming peak holiday periods, including Easter and the mainland's 'golden week' in May.

Mr Wu said Disneyland had set up a dedicated hotline to help travel agents. It was also agreed that tour companies give the park an update on how many visitors they expected to bring at least one week before major holidays, to allow for better preparations.

Disney would use the next few weeks to gather more feedback from the hotel trade and related sectors before meeting industry representatives again, he said.

Mr Wu said he was urging Disneyland to make both date-specific and flexible tickets available for sale on all days and allow customers to decide which to buy.

While 'golden week' has been designated as the first three days of May, the meeting proposed that the days date-specific tickets are available be changed or extended to cover the entire week or the latter part of the week, when more mainland tourists are expected to visit Hong Kong.