My Take

Time to stop the great Disneyland rip-off

Our legislators must vote against more funding for the theme park until we can get a deal that is good for us, not a greedy company

PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 4:06am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 March, 2017, 4:06am

If our own officials won’t put up a fight with greedy Disney in the US, our lawmakers should do it for them.

On Saturday, those sitting on the Legislative Council Finance Committee will be asked to approve a whopping HK$10.9 billion facelift for the troubled theme park under a six-year expansion plan. Let’s vote against this great American rip-off. Send them back to the boardroom to renegotiate a better deal.

For this expansion project, Hong Kong taxpayers will have to fork out up to HK$5.8 billion.

More than a billion will be used to pay US Disney for its generosity and ingenuity in “designs and technical support” for the new rides and features.

HK$350 million proposed for struggling Hong Kong Disneyland by US parent company

Is Disney a partner or a contractor in all this? Perhaps realising how bad it looks, Disney has offered to sweeten the deal somewhat.

It will contribute an extra HK$350 million, along with a waiver of two years of management fees worth about HK$114.4 million.

It’s not as generous as it sounds. It turns out – and we have only been told this last month – that Disney gets paid between 5 and 10 per cent of the park’s annual gross revenue. It also pockets all the royalties – which make up the biggest portion of Disneyland’s payout to its US parent.

Those are guaranteed earnings, while Hong Kong absorbs the losses. No wonder corporate Disney doesn’t seem to care too much even if the theme park has suffered losses in eight of its 11 years in existence.

Despite the latest “concessions”, Disney will still charge more than half a billion for the upgrade. Another feather in the cap of commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung... Not!

Disney and the government have argued the new concessions mean the expansion cost will be shared equally between the two sides, instead of the previous ratio of 53:47.

Hong Kong Disneyland on roller-coaster ride amid expansion plans

Well, care to explain why some 5 per cent of the total cost is still being used to pay Disney?

We have lined the pockets of Walt Disney for far too long.

Lawmakers should vote down the funding and hold up the project for now. Clearly So and his team are incapable of delivering a better deal.

Let’s wait for the new government to be formed after the summer.

Hopefully, a more competent team will be put together to renegotiate a fairer deal.