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Old October 24th, 2005, 07:07 PM   #281
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not to defend The Mouse here, but they've only just begun (to be fair)~~

there's a reason why D. IS Disneyland, so i'm quite sure there's plans in the works to develop a mall w/disney theme, etc. over the next couple years...

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Old October 26th, 2005, 09:06 AM   #282
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Disneyland thrown by behaviour of visitors
26 October 2005
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong Disneyland has underestimated just how new and foreign the theme-park concept is to local and mainland visitors and is tweaking its operations to better meet their expectations.

In the six weeks since its official opening, the theme park has implemented several improvements to educate its guests and staff, director of park operations and industrial engineering Andrew Bolstein says.

These include adding 15 staff to handle crowd control along the route of the daily parade, exercising greater flexibility in scheduling the live shows, ironing out staff issues over working hours and altercations with guests, and providing staff with leaflets to inform guests about the smoking policy.

"Smoking is more prevalent here and our staff were hesitant about approaching guests about not smoking outside the designated areas," Mr Bolstein said.

A flyer detailing how Fastpass works is also being finalised for distribution at the rides.

Mr Bolstein said guest confusion and unfamiliarity with the ticketing system, which allows ticket holders to enjoy a ride without waiting in line, has been causing longer queues.

"Guests didn't understand the system at all. They thought they needed a Fastpass to go on a ride and they thought every ride has a Fastpass," he said.

Mr Bolstein also said the time needed to stop and reset rides due to interruptions was now down to 10 to 15 minutes rather than 20 or 30 minutes.

Staff are required to contact the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department every time a ride is interrupted to explain the situation. It is up to the department to determine whether or not it is necessary to send a member to inspect the ride before it can resume.

A total of five ticket counters have also been provided at the reception desks of the two theme-park hotels.

Damien Lee, who manages operations at the Hollywood Hotel, said this meant guests checking in early in the day could buy tickets to enjoy the theme park immediately and avoid lining up.
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Old October 26th, 2005, 10:03 AM   #283
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like i was mentioning in my post above (#281), there's a rather steep learning curve going behind the fences so-to-speak...


which goes for HK (and the govt.) as well~~
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Old October 28th, 2005, 12:00 AM   #284
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LCQ1:Operation of HK Disneyland
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Government Press Release

Following is the question by the Hon Lau Kong-wah and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (October 26):

Question:

With regard to the operation of Hong Kong Disneyland (HKD) which opened on the 12th of last month, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the average daily attendance of HKD in its first month of operation, and how this compares to the forecast attendance; if the attendance is unsatisfactory, how the relevant authorities will step up promotion of HKD;

(b) of the respective percentages of local residents, Mainland tourists and overseas tourists among the visitors to HKD;

(c) of the number of complaints from visitors so far received by the relevant authorities, details of these complaints as well as follow-up actions taken;

(d) of the total number of breakdowns of the amusement rides in HKD since its opening, details and causes of such breakdowns, and whether they have resulted in any injuries to visitors; and

(e) whether the HKD authorities will consider offering annual passes at a concessionary price; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

Madam President,

(a) & (b) The Hongkong International Theme Parks Ltd (HKITP) has advised that park attendance and visitor mix figures are commercially sensitive information; and it has been the practice of The Walt Disney Company not to disclose such information for its theme parks. As a listed company, The Walt Disney Company will disclose the performance of its theme parks in its annual report.

HKITP is optimistic about the full year attendance. Guest surveys conducted by the Hongkong International Theme Parks Ltd (HKITP) in the first month of operation show that over 80% of the guests have rated the overall experience at Hong Kong Disneyland as very good or excellent. Similarly, over 80% of the Hong Kong Disneyland hotel guests were satisfied with their stay at the hotels and more than half said that they intended to make a return visit.

(c) Up to 21 October 2005, the Tourism Commission and the Hong Kong Tourism Board have received 3 complaints or suggestions from park visitors of the Hong Kong Disneyland. Of these, one case is related to the arrangement of the Rehearsal Days; one case is about ticketing service, and one case is about performance of theme park staff. The complaints have been referred to the management of the Hong Kong Disneyland for follow up and reply.

We have also consulted the Consumer Council, who has advised that it is their policy not to release complaint figures on individual companies.

The day-to-day operation of the Hong Kong Disneyland is the responsibility of the Hong Kong Disneyland Management Ltd (Management Company). According to the Management Company, they have received both compliments and suggestions for improvements. They take these comments seriously and would take follow-up actions. For example, in the light of feedback from visitors during the Rehearsal Days, the Management Company has added more than 600 seats in the restaurants, brought in additional mobile food and beverage stalls as well as outdoor benches and seats, and added new photo spots to meet customers' needs.

(d) The safety of visitors is the top priority of the Management Company. It enforces rigorous safety standards in the planning, maintenance and operation of the attractions; and implements a safety inspection and maintenance programme. According to the statistics of the Management Company, the amusement rides in the theme park are in normal operation more than 99% of the time.

To enable close monitoring of the operation of the amusement rides of the Hong Kong Disneyland, HKITP is required to report all cases of suspension of amusement rides to the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department (EMSD), which will follow up on the reported incidents to ensure the safe operation of the amusement rides. Since the opening of the theme park to the 18th of this month, HKITP has filed 50 reports where the rides were brought to a halt because of technical reasons, or the triggering of the safety protection system due to external interferences or guest behaviour, but no passengers were injured. There were another 6 reports which involved guests reporting feeling sick or having minor injuries which caused the operation of the rides to be temporarily suspended.

(e) The Hong Kong Disneyland is still in its initial operation period and has no plans to offer annual passes at this stage. However, the Management Company will review the visit pattern of guests from time to time and introduce new ticket products having regard to the market situation.
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Old October 31st, 2005, 02:09 AM   #285
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October 27, 2005
Failures, guests halt Disney rides daily
Cheung Chi-fai

Amusement rides at Hong Kong Disneyland have ground to a halt more than once a day on average since the park opened.

Mechanical failure or guest behaviour halted rides 50 times in the 37 days of the park's operation, a government minister said.

Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip Shu-kwan said the suspensions were caused by "technical reasons or the triggering of the safety protection system due to external interferences or guest behaviour".

In a written reply yesterday to a legislator's question, Mr Ip said there had been three complaints from visitors to the Tourism Board and Tourism Commission about the performance of park staff, ticketing services and arrangements on rehearsal days.

The theme park is required to report to the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering Department all incidents of suspended rides.

Although no one was injured in the 50 incidents, there have been six cases of passengers suffering minor injuries or feeling ill on rides at the park.

Quoting figures provided by Disney, Mr Ip said rides were operating normally about 98 per cent of the time. He said 80 per cent of the visitors surveyed by Disney rated their overall experience at the park either "good" or "excellent".

Mr Ip did not respond to a request by Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, to disclose attendance figures for the first month, saying that, as a listed company, Disney had to observe stock market rules governing the release of business details other than in its reports to shareholders.

He said that thus far, the theme park had no plan to issue annual passes for customers because it was still in its initial period of operation.

"The management company will review the visiting patterns of guests from time to time and introduce new ticket products having regard to the market situation," he said.
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Old October 31st, 2005, 02:11 AM   #286
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LCQ 10: Public transport services for Hong Kong Disneyland
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Leung Yiu-chung and a written reply by the Secretary for the Environment, Transport and Works, Dr Sarah Liao, at the Legislative Council meeting today (October 26):

Question:

Currently, visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland (HKD)can use the Mass Transit Railway, franchised buses, non-franchised buses and taxies, but not green and red minibuses. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the present public transport arrangements can effectively cater to the flows of visitors travelling to and from HKD;

(b) of the reasons for forbidding some public transport service operators from operating routes to and from HKD; whether it has assessed if this practice is fair, and if it will result in relatively high fares for trips to and from HKD; if so, of the outcome of the assessment; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it plans to change the decision so as to enhance competition, offer visitors to HKD more choices and create additional job opportunities; if so, of the details of the plan; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

Madam President,

Currently, public transport services available to visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland (HKD) include railway, franchised buses, non-franchised buses, taxis as well as cross-boundary coaches for visitors from the Mainland. Transport arrangements for HKD were formulated before the commissioning of HKD based on the estimated number of visitors, passengers surveys, existing transport and traffic network and other transport statistics. The public transport demand to and from HKD is mainly recreational in nature and concentrate at the peak hours in the morning and evening. In order to accommodate the projected pattern of passenger demand, mass carriers with higher passenger capacity are necessary for provision of services to and from HKD. While planning for the transport arrangement for HKD, we have therefore included railway, a mass carrier, as the major service provider, to be supplemented by franchised buses, non-franchised buses and taxis.

Franchised buses provide convenient and efficient mass transit service to and from HKD. Non-franchised buses can meet the demand of particular groups of passengers (for instance, organised tour groups). Taxi provide convenient, personalised, and point-to-point services, especially for visitors who are not familiar with local public transport. As for public light buses (PLBs), according to our existing transport policy, the primary function of green minibuses is to provide regular transport services to supplement and serve as feeders to the mass carriers, serve areas where demand does not justify the provision of high capacity services. Red minibuses, on the other hand, provide a relatively flexible service within their existing service areas. Taking into account the mode of passenger demand of HKD, the passenger capacity and operating efficiency of PLBs are relatively low when compared with mass carriers such as railways and buses. Based on the principle of efficient use of transport service resources, we currently consider that there is no need to arrange PLB service to serve HKD.

In fact, we have been monitoring closely the passenger demand of HKD since its commissioning on September 12 2005, including the period during festival days and holidays such as Mid-autumn Festival and the National Day "Golden Week". The service levels and daily passengers throughput of various modes of transport show that the existing public transport services have surplus capacity, demonstrating that the public transport services to and from HKD is adequate and can effectively cater to the flows of visitors to HKD.

Besides, the various public transport modes offer a wide selection of transport services to HKD's visitors. There is competition both in terms of service quality and fare, providing the public with multiple and reasonable choices. We will continue monitoring the public transport services to and from HKD and make adjustment when necessary.
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Old October 31st, 2005, 02:14 AM   #287
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LCQ9: Trees at HK Disneyland
Wednesday, October 26, 2005
Government Press Release

Following is the question by the Hon Choy So-yuk and a written reply by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, Mr Stephen Ip, in the Legislative Council today (October 26):

Question:

I have received many complaints from the public about mosquito infestation in Hong Kong Disneyland (HKD). They point out that as only non-fruit-bearing trees have been planted in HKD, few birds frequent the place, which does not help control the mosquito problem. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the number of trees planted in HKD at present, with a breakdown by their species and whether they are fruit-bearing;

(b) the preventive measures adopted in HKD against mosquito infestation; and

(c) the number of complaints by visitors to HKD authorities about mosquito bites so far, and the details of the complaints?

Reply:

Madam President,

According to the Hong Kong Disneyland Management Limited (Management Company), there are about 18,000 trees in the Hong Kong Disneyland and its hotels, of which 70% are flowering trees that are fruit-bearing. There are altogether about 150 species, including Tamarindus indica, Gnetum gnemum, Artocarpus species, Syzygium jambos, Syzygium cumini, Feijoa sellowiana, Illicium verum, Sterculia monsperma, Dillinia indica, Pongamia pinnata, Mimusop elengi, Terminalia catappa, Tabebuia species, Garcinia subelliptica, etc. According to the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, the main cause of mosquito infestation is water accumulation and not the species of trees.

We understand from the Management Company that they have implemented an active pest monitoring and control programme since July 2005 to improve the sanitary condition. This programme includes measures such as installation of mosquito traps, regular monitoring of fluctuations in pest population, frequent checking of any accumulation of stagnant water and elimination of all potential mosquito breeding grounds. These measures have proved to be effective.

For public areas in the vicinity of the theme park, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is carrying out regular mosquito control measures which include the clearing of stagnant water and other potential mosquito breeding grounds, and the application of insecticide or larvicidal oil as necessary.

Since the opening of the Hong Kong Disneyland, the Management Company has received four cases of pest-related complaints. No complaints have been received over the past three weeks. The Management Company observes that the implementation of the pest monitoring and control programme has been effective in dealing with mosquito infestation.
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Old October 31st, 2005, 02:30 AM   #288
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All those mainlanders... those annoying mainland tourists... ugh
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Old October 31st, 2005, 11:47 PM   #289
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Disney eyes $3.2b loan to refinance 15-year debt

Hong Kong Disneyland is seeking a syndicated loan of about HK$3.2 billion to refinance a similar-sized loan taken out in 2000 to partially fund construction of the theme park, said a source familiar with the situation.

Tim LeeMaster
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, November 01, 2005



Hong Kong Disneyland is seeking a syndicated loan of about HK$3.2 billion to refinance a similar-sized loan taken out in 2000 to partially fund construction of the theme park, said a source familiar with the situation.

The loan will be arranged through Hong Kong International Theme Parks, the joint venture of US-based Disneyland and the Hong Kong government, which owns a majority 57 percent stake.

"I'm sure that the pricing will be much lower than the previous transaction because, at the time, it was a greenfield project," said one banker involved in the original 15-year loan.

The loan was arranged by Chase Manhattan Asia, which brought in more than 20 other banks to fund the park, including Bank of China, BNP Paribas and HSBC.

Banks earned 70 basis points of the total deal size in fees, while the company paid 1 percent over the Hong Kong interbank offered rate over the first five years of the loan. The interest margin is set to rise to 1.25 percent next year and for the next five years, before rising further to 1.38 percent for the remainder of the loan's life.

The debt, composed of a HK$2.32 billion term loan and HK$1 billion revolving credit, was taken out to fund the construction of the park on Lantau, which opened in September. The loan was oversubscribed to HK$5.4 billion but was not increased.

To finance the project, the government provided another HK$6.1 billion subordinated loan and with Walt Disney raised HK$5.7 billion in equity.

The 126-hectare park expects five million visitors in its first year of operation, two-thirds of which are expected to come from Guangdong province. The company has refused to divulge attendance figures from its first month of operation.

Construction included two hotels with a total of 1,000 guest rooms, an artificial lake and tree gardens. The park, which employs more than 5,000 staff, cost more than HK$27 billion to build, and is expected to generate HK$148 billion in revenue over the next 40 years.

Disneyland plans to open a second theme park on reclaimed land next to the current park.

Disney officials could not be reached for comment.
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 02:26 AM   #290
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SAR may sell Disney stake
Ma startles lawmakers after detailing $25b spent at park
Thursday, November 03, 2005



For the first time, a government minister gave a detailed breakdown of the HK$25 billion it has spent so far to get the Disneyland Hong Kong theme park up and running, and then startled lawmakers by saying the government might ultimately sell its share.

Less than two months after Disneyland Hong Kong opened, Frederick Ma said Wednesday that the government could sell off its 57 percent share in the theme park.

"In the long run, the government may consider, in the light of the big market, [the] small-government principle to divest its shareholdings in the company [Hong Kong International Theme Park Limited, a joint venture between US-based Walt Disney Corporation and the Hong Kong government], at an appropriate time when it is in the overall economic interests of Hong Kong to do so," Ma said during a Legco meeting.

But Ma's statement gave no timetable or any indication that the sale would be any time soon.

"The park has opened for [less than] two months. We should wait until the park is running smoothly before we consider any move [to sell]. Up to now we don't have any plans about selling off the government's stake," he said.

At the meeting, Ma broke down the government's expenditure on construction, saying that reclamation and other infrastructure works cost HK$13.6 billion - including road projects, cleaning of contaminated soil and compensation for affected fishermen. Land acquisition and clearance accounted for HK$1.6 billion.

Another HK$3.3 billion was for equity injection and a HK$6.1 billion loan will go to Hong Kong International Theme Park Limited.

The government has also waived its claim of HK$931 million in dividends that would otherwise be payable to the administration by the MTR Corp as financial support for the construction of the Disneyland Resort Line.

Ma's comments were in response to Frontier legislator Emily Lau's written question asking the government to explain why it is a majority stakeholder in a private enterprise and asking for a costs breakdown.

Legislators were taken by surprise by Ma's comments. Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat said it is too early for the government to consider selling its stake.

"The government needs to take at least two or three years to assess its financial returns so as to strike a good deal," he said.

Lee pointed out that since the government holds a controlling stake in the park, it has a responsibility to disclose its financial accounts, including operating costs, daily attendance, expenditure and income. "The public needs to know whether its investment is value for money," he said.

Democrat Fred Li, also a member of Legco's economic services panel, said if the government plans to sell its stake, it should consult the panel before proceeding.

"We need to assess all the financial information to ensure that the government sells its shares under the most favorable conditions," he said.

"Now should not be the right time because the park has only been running for two months. We don't even know its financial situation. The government should not consider the move until it reaps a handsome profit."

Chan Kam-lam, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he believes the government will not sell its stake soon.

"He [Ma] was questioned by a lawmaker - what do you expect him to say? He couldn't rule out this possibility, could he? That was why he said in the long run the government might consider selling off its stake," he said.

Chan argued that the park's financial returns will be only one of the factors in assessing its value. "We have to consider all the peripheral profits generated by the park and how it can help spur tourism and the overall economy."

The public, he said, has been too aggressive in attempting to force Disneyland to reveal its performance figures.

"It has only been two months since the park [opened]. Give Disneyland a break. We can't expect it to immediately show us all the figures."

However, Chan said there are still many shortcomings in the park's operation. "There has been inadequate promotion of the park in Hong Kong. It has focused too much on the mainland market. I think it should also allow local travel agencies to organize local tours at the park. After all, the local market is also very important," he said.

Financial analyst David Webb said he would be surprised if the government relinquishes any of its 3.25 billion shares in the near future.

"The government has always stressed that it supports big market, small government, but its actions do not support its words," Webb said.

Hong Kong Disneyland, Walt Disney's 11th theme park, is the only Disneyland to enlist a government as a shareholder.

A Disneyland spokeswoman said Wednesday that while the Hong Kong government plays a heavy role in the park's decision-making, it is too early to comment on future possibilities.

"Right now, we are focused on the success of opening year for Hong Kong Disneyland, and there is no plan from Disney to consider any equity position changes in its ownership," public affairs manager Esther Wong said.

So far, Disneyland has not said how successful the park has been since it opened and has refused to divulge attendance figures.

Since the September 12 opening, a string of incidents has troubled the park. In the first month alone, a reported 50 rides were brought to a halt by technical issues which triggered the safety system. On October 11, a former worker climbed to the top of a rollercoaster and held a knife to his neck to protest against his dismissal a week earlier.

Other workers have complained of unfair treatment and 10- to 13-hour workdays.
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 04:47 AM   #291
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more pictures from disneyland honk kong
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Old November 3rd, 2005, 06:12 AM   #292
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Some photo galleries :
http://www.pbase.com/bono/disneyhk
http://www.pbase.com/philip_kwong/disney
http://www.pbase.com/iagrafx/disneyland_hong_kong
http://www.pbase.com/syling/disney
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Old November 8th, 2005, 07:23 AM   #293
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HK Disneyland Cuts Ticket Prices For Local Residents
7 November 2005

HONG KONG (AP)--Hong Kong Disneyland said Tuesday it will offer ticket discounts for one month to local residents to thank them for their support, but denied the move was prompted by low attendance at the park, which opened two months ago.

"The discount has absolutely no relation to attendance numbers," park spokeswoman Esther Wong said. "We are thanking locals for giving us good support since we opened."

Starting Tuesday, prices for Hong Kong residents will be slashed by HK$50 per ticket - a reduction of about 20%. A peak time ticket for an adult will cost HK$300, instead of HK$350.

The discount, given to those with a Hong Kong ID card, will last until Dec. 8.

Although Hong Kong Disneyland said the discount was unrelated to attendance, the park has repeatedly refused to disclose how many people have been visiting. Many local media reports have said that attendance has been disappointing.

On Tuesday, Wong said the park has no plans to disclose attendance numbers because they are confidential commercial information.

This has angered some lawmakers who argue that the public should be privy to the information since the Hong Kong government is the biggest investor in the park.

The government paid US$2.4 billion for the park's construction, while Disney paid over US$314 million, according to official figures.
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Old November 8th, 2005, 10:12 AM   #294
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Is the ticket price too expensive for local?^
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Old November 8th, 2005, 10:14 AM   #295
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There are many Disneyland themeparks around the world. What is Disneyland in HK special?
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Old November 8th, 2005, 04:29 PM   #296
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaic
There are many Disneyland themeparks around the world. What is Disneyland in HK special?
Becuase it's the newest and it's still expanding, thus the location of this thread...

and by my personal standard 5 parks around the world isn't many. Six Flags is the definition of "many" :-D
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Old November 8th, 2005, 06:06 PM   #297
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mosaic
Is the ticket price too expensive for local?^
I paid about HK$300 for my ticket during a weekday. I think the price is reasonable.
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Old November 8th, 2005, 07:08 PM   #298
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Those pictures changed my view on Hong Kong Disney. I'd love to go visit it now. It looks kinda interesting.
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Old November 9th, 2005, 08:51 PM   #299
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Discount fails to draw rush of locals
Disney offer to Hongkongers discriminates against us, say mainlanders

9 November 2005
South China Morning Post

The $50 discount offered by Disney to Hong Kong residents did not have a noticeable impact on the first day of sales yesterday, while some mainland visitors were not happy with the discount for locals.

According to a park staff member, the attendance was "quite usual". "We have nearly the same number of visitors on Tuesdays and Wednesdays," he said. "The effect of the discount will not work so quickly. Maybe this weekend the attendance will increase."

As Hongkongers took advantage of the discount yesterday, some mainland visitors complained it amounted to discrimination against them.

A woman from Guangzhou, who gave her name as Ms Wu, said it was unfair for the park to offer the discount to Hongkongers only.

She had tried unsuccessfully to get a discounted ticket before she went to the park. "Hong Kong has returned to China, right? All of us are Disney's visitors and should be equally treated," she said.

But whatever they paid, visitors did not have to wait long for rides yesterday. The longest queue appeared to be at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. A woman at the head of the queue said she had been waiting for 40 minutes.

People only had to wait 15 minutes for the popular Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, and there were no queues at restaurants or toilets.

A Ms Ng, who was at the park with her eight-year-old daughter for her third visit, said she chose yesterday to visit because she knew there would be fewer people. "I find it difficult to bear the crowd on Sundays. Today is fine," she said.

Some local families went to the park yesterday because of the discount. "The most important thing is that our little girl enjoyed the visit very much," said Winson Ngai, who was at the park with wife Tiffany and seven-year-old daughter Ngai Sin-yee enjoying the discount.

However, many locals at the park yesterday were not attracted by the discount, having planned their outing before it was announced. "I bought the ticket the day before the discount was announced and got my $50 refund. It is really a surprise," said a man busy shopping in the Winnie the Pooh shop with his family. "I didn't know about the discount at all until I arrived. It is quite a big surprise. We got a total of $200 back."

A Disney spokeswoman said attendance figures, merchandise incomes and operation costs would not be published in the park's annual report for commercial reasons. The company would not comment on revenue projections, but the past two months had been "successful", she said.

A Tourism Commission spokeswoman said the government would also not disclose the information for the same reason.

Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing, who chairs the finance committee and has asked the government to released detailed Disneyland accounts, said the government should explain the true picture to the public.

"The recent ticket price cut, combined with the lack of transparency, are sending out negative messages to the public," she said.

"We don't want to teach Disney how to do business, but it looks so bad on the surface, and it's about billions of public money."
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Old November 9th, 2005, 08:55 PM   #300
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Disney chiefs feed cynics' doubts by refusing to reveal gate numbers
9 November 2005
South China Morning Post

ABOUT 15 MONTHS before the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland, executives from the capitalist icon took it upon themselves to educate the communist youth league in the ways of Mickey and Minnie.

Through activity-based sessions, the national network of more than 1,000 youth associations, or "youth palaces", would sing, dance and clap their way to Magic Kingdom recognition thanks to the efforts of Disney disciples.

Behind the storytelling and performances was an interesting case study in grassroots brand-building, given the potential pool of 60 million park visitors the youth league represented.

It is thus not surprising that recent news of the park slashing its admission price for Hong Kong locals by $50 as an act of sheer altruism has been greeted with a degree of scepticism.

Nor do anecdotal tales of mid-week malaise give much credence to Disney's insistence that this is not an attempt to boost visitor numbers, and all is well in Fantasyland.

There is, however, one simple way to silence the cynics: show the attendance numbers, or even better, publish the accounts of Hong Kong International Theme Parks (HKITP), the joint-venture company set up with the Hong Kong government to develop the park.

Legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing made an attempt last week to glean the visitor numbers, but was swiftly rebutted. Although the government has a 57 per cent stake in the venture, its partner, Walt Disney, is a commercial enterprise, she was informed. The government must thus "respect the company's interests as an investor'' and make sure commercial principles are not compromised by revealing the attendance numbers.

The partnership may be courtesy of the public bourse with a $3.3 billion equity injection and a $6.1 billion loan thrown into the package, but taxpayers are not privy to such "commercially sensitive information'' as how many punters pass through its gates.

A more straightforward way to gauge whether the park will be restocking the public coffers any time soon is to get a snapshot of its financial health from a published set of accounts. This has, however, not happened in the case of HKITP.

As a private company, it is not required to do so. This is despite a move four years ago for Hong Kong to rectify this, notes David Webb, the editor of Webb-site.com.

It is not without a hint of irony that he points out this particular stab at bringing corporate governance up to scratch was under the watch of then financial secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen. The Standing Committee on Company Law Reform proposal to require private companies to file their financial statements was promptly dropped.

There is a chance in future of abridged accounts making their way into public hands, as happened with the Cyberport project.

This was another venture with a private company the government unilaterally embarked on with public funds, releasing a limited set of figures six years after the deal was struck.

The timing happened to coincide with a property rebound, the jewel in the crown of the "cyber" project being an adjacent residential development that improved the numbers considerably.

In both cases, much criticism has focused on whether there has been optimal use of precious land. The hollow echo of half-empty buildings speaks for itself at Cyberport. With Disneyland, the likelihood is that more land will be forfeited or reclaimed for development before a published set of accounts emerges.

It is not just an extension of the park that has critics worried. Lantau residents who have been following the government's sudden interest in the green island are decidedly wary of satellite development close to the park that has been mooted.

The government's concept plan for Lantau, released in November last year, includes a "tourism node" around Sunny Bay, Disneyland being an "anchor" for further tourism development on the island.

In what seems to be a mini Tsim Sha Tsui, the concept plan suggests building entertainment and dining facilities, "fashionable stores", performance venues, theme attractions and an indoor beach. The proposal "could create synergy" with Hong Kong Disneyland, the government contends.

The idea is presumably to get as many people across to the vicinity as possible, and funnel them to the park: create a flow of traffic to the north Lantau coastline.

Without a clear picture of the park's bill of health, it is hardly surprising the possibility of such fringe attractions has some cynics wondering if all is rosy on Main Street, USA.
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