Early run for 3 new Disney attractions
Hong Kong Disneyland will complete its expansion plan one year ahead of schedule, thanks to a lull in construction work elsewhere in Hong Kong since the global financial crisis.
The early completion of the loss-making attraction, in which the government is a majority stakeholder, will also give it more time to cushion the effects of Shanghai Disneyland, opening in 2015.
The HK$3.63 billion expansion will add three attractions to the theme park, including Toy Story Land, which will cash in on the popularity of the three animated films of the same name.
It will be ready before Christmas.
The two others are Mystic Point and the Grizzly Gulch mining town with roller coaster. These two will open in 2012 and 2013, Hong Kong Disneyland said yesterday.
Disney estimated last year that the new attractions would be ready by 2013 at the earliest.
Toy Story Land will feature a whirling roller coaster called Slinky Dog Spin, a Toy Soldier Parachute Drop in which visitors will plunge from a 25-metre tower, and a ride on a U-shaped race track.
Disneyland began seeking tenders for the new attractions in 2009, a year that was relatively quiet for the construction industry.
At the time, no other large projects were demanding the attention of contractors, who responded enthusiastically to the Disney tenders.
A Disneyland spokesman declined to elaborate on the company's media release yesterday.
In a 2009 statement, Disneyland said the expansion would increase the park's 'physical footprint' by 23 per cent and broaden its appeal to include young adults. The new features would also 'offer many unique, only available in Hong Kong, attractions'.
The opening of the new zones is expected to help the park attract more visitors and increase revenue.
Last year, Disneyland welcomed a record 5.2 million visitors, up 13 per cent from 2009. But it has yet to break even - the park reported a net loss of HK$720 million last year.
The Hong Kong government is the biggest shareholder in HK Disneyland, controlling 53 per cent of its shares.
With the sixth Disneyland opening in Shanghai in 2015, the expansion's early completion would give it more time to improve its competitiveness, Democratic Party lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming said.
'We should enhance our competitiveness as soon as possible,' he said. If the park was able to attract more tourists with its enhanced features, there would be a chance the government could receive a dividend.
The Tourism Board said it would work closely with the theme park to promote its new facilities.
'The Hong Kong Tourism Board believes that the expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland will further enhance the city's attraction to visitors, especially among families and young travellers in the region,' a spokesman said.
Inbound Tour Operators chairman Simon Hau Suk-kei said the expansion would encourage tens of millions if tourists who had been to Hong Kong to revisit the city.
'Ocean Park and Disneyland are major attractions. It is easier for us to promote our tours with new attractions in the theme parks,' he said.
The HK government is Disneyland's biggest shareholder
The percentage of the theme park owned by the government: 53%