New passes help Disney boost poor attendance

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 13 July, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 13 July, 2006, 12:00am

Daily attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland topped 10,000 last week, although many visitors had either two-for-one ticket deal or held new summer passes, sources and front-line staff said.

The bigger turnout comes as Disney pumps up its promotional campaign.

This month it launched a $450 pass offering unlimited visits until the end of September, and today it will unveil three new attractions. About 1,000 passes have been sold, the sources said.

'We are so pleased with our summer pass programme. It has met and exceeded our expectations and we've only been out a couple of weeks,' Hong Kong Disneyland chief Bill Ernest said.

'Business is picking up. Summer already looks very promising. A lot of our business throughout the year really depends on how our summer season works.'

The park is keen to boost visitor numbers over summer. Mr Ernest has previously said attendances are lagging behind the first-year target of 5.6 million.

Disney refuses to disclose attendance figures, but sources say the park needs a full house - about 30,000 people - everyday until the end of September to approach the first-year target.

Disney is hoping the three new rides will help reach that target.

It has imported Autopia, a car-ride attraction powered by electricity that is already at other Disney parks.

The second new attraction is Stitch Encounter, which is based on the 2002 Walt Disney animated hit Lilo & Stitch. It is an interactive show offered in English, Cantonese and Putonghua, where the film characters 'talk back' in real time to audience members.

The other new attraction is UFO Zone, an outdoor water-themed attraction that uses water jets and mist machines.

Mr Ernest did not estimate what impact the new attractions would have on attendance figures but said that they had already been built into first-year attendance estimates.

But he would not give details of future attractions.

'We will announce in the very near future our latest attraction. I think you will be very pleased and very surprised,' he said.

Japanese car-maker Honda, which is sponsoring the Autopia ride, brought along its humanoid robot, Asimo, from Japan for a demonstration. But officials were coy about whether Disney would open an attraction based on the robot in Hong Kong.

A Honda spokesman said the car maker had developed an Asimo theatre show for the Disney park in California but there had not been talks on a Hong Kong show.