If “giving up on” Hong Kong Disneyland means closing the park – instead of privatising it and selling stocks to shareholders – that would be a very bad decision. This is because Hong Kong has too much to lose, especially the city’s tourism sector.
The main argument in favour of abandoning Disney is that it has been losing money for three straight years. The financial deficit doubled to more than HK$345 million in 2017. However, that deficit is mainly the result of a HK$10.9 billion expansion plan that will be completed in 2023. For example, it includes investment in new rides and attractions, the most recent of which is the Iron Man Experience.
Critics say the outlook for the park is “dismal” but I disagree. With the improved facilities, it will become more popular than ever in the future. In fact, according to the SCMP, the park reported a three per cent rise in visitors to 6.2 million and an eight per cent increase in revenue to HK$5.1 billion last year.
What’s more, Hong Kong Disneyland only opened in 2005. So, expecting it to be a huge success in just more than a decade, during which the 2008 financial crisis took place, seems a little harsh.
By shutting down the park, the government could lose more money, because it would mean revamping the land and risking years of future inactivity.
Despite the losses, the benefits of keeping Disneyland far outweigh those of abandoning it. The government should realise that it is a worthwhile investment that gives Hong Kong’s overall image and tourism industry a much-needed boost. The park is still “young” and has the potential to become one of Hong Kong’s iconic landmarks.
Yes, the theme park should be closed. There are several reasons for this. Type in the words “Hong Kong Disneyland” and “deficit” and your browser will be bombarded with headlines about how the theme park is losing its magic year after year. Disneyland posted losses of HK$148 million in 2015, HK$171 million in 2016 , and more than HK$345 million last year.
To make matters worse, local taxpayers will have to fork out
HK$5 billion to fund the park’s HK$10.9 billion expansion. The money could definitely be put to better use, for example, to build public housing or help low-income families. It makes a lot of sense to tackle key social issues urgently rather than prolong the life of a loss-making amusement park.
The government could continue to give the park billions of dollars to update its shows and rides, but I don’t think it will ever make a profit. It is facing tough competition from Ocean Park and other amusement parks in the region, including Shanghai Disney, which is three times the size of Hong Kong Disneyland.
Disneyland is a place of fun and dreams, yet it has become a nightmare for the city’s taxpayers. It targets a very specific market, mainly families with young children. But they soon get fed up with the worn-out Hollywood themes and look for other forms of entertainment. The government must accept this reality and shut down the park without throwing away more good money into the sinkhole.
Late last year, Disneyland shocked Hongkongers by announcing that it would temporarily suspend its nightly fireworks show, one of the park’s highlights, at least until 2019 due to its expansion project. This is a sure sign that Disneyland has lost its magical charm.