Hong Kong Disneyland has expanded its capacity by more than 20 per cent to 34,000, but the company was quick to dampen expectations that this would lead to a corresponding increase in the theme park's attendance. The increase in the 'in park' capacity, which determines the number of visitors it could have at any one time, was revealed by Disney officials yesterday, more than two months after government approval was secured. The park could accommodate 28,000 when it opened in September last year. A Disney spokesman said the increased capacity was approved by the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department under the Places of Public Entertainment Ordinance on September 29. Park managing director Bill Ernest said the expansion had been made possible by the opening of three new rides - Autopia, UFO Zone and Stitch Encounter - in the Tomorrowland zone in July. Improved seating arrangements and changes to the dining areas had also enabled better use of space, he said. In the event of emergency, the government had to be convinced that visitors could be evacuated within two hours. Asked if this would lead to a corresponding increase in the park's annual attendance, Mr Ernest said: 'They are not necessarily related.' With the expansion of its capacity to 34,000, the park has reached full capacity until the introduction of three more attractions - It's a Small World, Animation Academy and Mickey's WaterWorks - scheduled to open in the first half of 2008. The park announced on its first anniversary that first year attendance was 'well past' the 5 million mark, falling short of the target of 5.6 million set when it opened. An exact figure was not revealed. Mr Ernest was confident the fiasco of the last Lunar New Year holiday, when hundreds of visitors were turned away because the park had exceeded its capacity, would not be repeated. The park has designated February 17 to 24 as special days on which only visitors carrying valid tickets for the specified date would be admitted.