Disneyland misses goal of 5.6m visitors

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 December, 2006, 12:00am

Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland reached 5.2 million in its first year of operation, the theme park's chief, Bill Ernest, said yesterday.

The announcement, made to the Legislative Council, was the first time Mr Ernest had revealed a concrete figure for attendance. At the park's first anniversary three months ago, he said only that the number was 'well over 5 million'.

The figure announced yesterday falls short of the 5.6 million target.

Mr Ernest defended the result and described 2006 as very successful given that it was 'our start-up year'.

Next year the park would focus its efforts on the young adult market, particularly in the southern mainland, he said.

Mr Ernest highlighted the importance of courting mainland visitors, who accounted for about 34 per cent of the first year's attendance and more than half of the visitors during the summer months.

'Our key learning from our first year is that we need to provide more information on the classic Disney stories behind the attractions and the unique experience being offered to potential visitors from the mainland to enhance their understanding of what makes the park so special,' he told lawmakers.

The theme park is working on a 'pre-show', which explains the Disney stories and characters behind the various attractions, in response to feedback indicating that many mainland visitors were unfamiliar with the classic rides. The park added three new attractions in July and announced two more as well as a new parade by 2008.

Hong Kong Disneyland is also working to strengthen its relationship with the travel trade, which it says is the key to a growing attendance. Among the initiatives planned for next year are various travel trade and seasonal offers as well as 'an enhanced goal-based incentive programme' to wholesalers, Mr Ernest said.

Addressing Liberal Party lawmaker Howard Young's concerns about a repeat of the chaos at the Lunar New Year last January, when the park was sold out and was forced to turn away visitors, Mr Ernest said the eight days between February 17 and 24 next year had been designated as special days with park admission guaranteed for holders of specific tickets, which would be date-stamped.

Sales of annual passes, launched in September, have topped 20,000, with about 95 per cent of the buyers being Hong Kong residents.



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