Disney considers revamp of ticket system

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 February, 2006, 12:00am

Chief tells lawmakers he is determined to avoid a repeat of chaos during coming Labour Day holiday

Disneyland is considering merging its dual ticketing systems, hoping to avoid a repetition of the chaotic scenes during the Lunar New Year holiday.

The possible change comes less than two months after the theme park introduced a flexible-ticket system to complement 'special day', or date-specific, tickets.

The new arrangement frustrated visitors, many of them from the mainland, who accused the park of incompetence and mismanagement when they were locked out over the Lunar New Year. Adding to the problem, specific-day tickets issued before January 3 do not guarantee entry.

'The best way to restore confidence is to have a successful May. A successful May will be a success for me,' Bill Ernest, the theme park's executive vice-president and managing director, told a Legislative Council economic services panel meeting yesterday.

He was referring to the week-long Labour Day holiday on the mainland.

Understandably keen to avoid another mishap, Mr Ernest said the mainland's 'golden week' holiday in May would show the theme park could operate smoothly. He said invaluable experience had been gained from the ticketing debacle a month ago.

Over the Lunar New Year, some ticket holders, including many mainland tour groups, were refused entry to a sold-out park as they held flexible tickets, which are valid for six months but do not guarantee admission on any specific day.

It was revealed that the park had followed Hong Kong's calendar of public holidays. Only the first three days of the Lunar New Year week were designated for date-specific ticket holders, even though mainlanders had the whole week off.

'I am personally responsible as managing director. I take that very seriously. It is up to me to make sure that this does not happen again. If it does, it will come back to me. I am the responsible party,' Mr Ernest said.

He said flexible ticketing was still the right move and the park was reviewing the number of days to be designated date-specific, especially with the Easter and May 'golden week' holiday.

The travel industry and visitors would be given advance notice of any changes, he said.

Operating hours were also being adjusted, he said, while measures to improve communication with the public and the travel industry and safer crowd control were also being considered.

Over the longer term, Hong Kong Disneyland would assess its phased expansion plan, designed to increase capacity and add more attractions. Mr Ernest said the theme park was on track to meet the revised annual attendance estimate of 5.6 million.