We're near 5.6m forecast but attendance isn't only factor, says Disneyland chief Hong Kong Disneyland yesterday announced that its visitor numbers are 'well past' the 5 million mark, while falling short of the first-year target of 5.6 million set when it opened last September. Managing director Bill Ernest said the park, which celebrates its first anniversary next Tuesday, had received 'well over' 5 million guests. He added: 'We are getting close to our first-year attendance forecast as we close the summer season.' The second six months had been much better than the first six months of the park's opening, Mr Ernest said. He would not be drawn on specific figures, but said visitors for the summer season alone had reached 1 million, helped by the sale of 60,000 summer passes. The park's summer season began on July 1. Mr Ernest confirmed the park would announce the introduction of annual passes this month. Prices have yet to be fixed. The theme park is 57 per cent owned by the Hong Kong government, which invested HK$23 billion. It was mired in controversy even before it opened. At Lunar New Year, its decision to lock its gates to ticket-holders led to confusion and protests, and made headlines around the world. The park's attendance figures have often been a subject of speculation. Questioned about Disneyland's transparency, Mr Ernest said the park, though partly owned by the government, was responsible to its board of directors. He described the appointment of two non-executive directors as a step towards greater accountability. HKR International's managing director, Payson Cha Mou-sing, and Cathay Pacific managing director Philip Chen Nan-lok are the first of a batch of business leaders to be appointed independent non-executive members of the park's board. Mr Ernest said the park had spent a lot of time learning from its experience and that the controversies had made it 'stronger and better'. He would not say whether the attendance figure he reported included the roughly 270,000 people who visited during pre-opening rehearsals. 'Regardless of how you cut it, we are well over 5 million.' Mr Ernest said there was more to the park than attendance. 'We run a theme park business and hotel business. We run a resort destination at Hong Kong Disneyland,' he said. Satisfaction levels were 85 per cent for the park and 90 per cent for the hotels. He said operations were on a solid financial footing. Citing government figures showing a doubling of family tourists from 20 per cent in the first quarter of last year to 40 per cent during the same period this year, Mr Ernest said he believed Hong Kong Disneyland had contributed to the increase. He made the comments at a news conference and in an interview. Fred Li Wah-ming, a member of the Legislative Council's economic services panel, said Hong Kong Disneyland's attendance was boosted in part by visitors enjoying complimentary admission from promotions and free tickets.