Hong Kong need not fear - there's room for two Disneylands in China
So much has been said about the Shanghai Disneyland project that it became an anti-climax when the full details were announced last week. That the theme park will carry strong Chinese characteristics is unsurprising. It boasts a few "firsts", including a unique pirate-themed land and the biggest castle ever built by the US entertainment giant. The gimmicks are to be expected for the first major American theme park on the mainland.
The announcement raised the inevitable question: will Hong Kong Disney lose out? The perceived threat from the Shanghai park has long been an issue of concern. Not only is the younger brother bigger in terms of size, its Chinese heritage is also richer. For instance, there will be a garden featuring the 12 Chinese zodiacs in Disney characters. The musical Lion King will also be performed in Putonghua for the first time.
Mainlanders accounted for 48 per cent of the 7.5 million visitors received by the Hong Kong park last year. But local and international visitors still form the majority. The company is to continue marketing and sales promotions in all markets. More attractions are also in the pipeline to enhance the park's competitiveness. These include a new themed area based on Marvel's Iron Man and a new hotel, to be opened next year and in 2017 respectively. Discussions with the government on phase two development have also begun.
Hong Kong Disney is not alone in facing competition. Other industries in the city also risk lagging behind whenever places elsewhere roll out bigger and better initiatives. In an increasingly competitive world, adaptation is crucial. Companies need to diversify and innovate in order to survive.
The US has had a Disneyland on each side of the continent for decades and there does not seem to be any concern. If a small city like Hong Kong can accommodate Disneyland and Ocean Park, there should be more than enough room for two Disney theme parks in a country as big as China. The rise of Shanghai Disney does not necessarily spell the demise of Hong Kong's park. One country, two Disneys can be a success.