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Old September 10th, 2009, 01:31 AM   #41
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yeah! i love disneyland!! that the reason why I born in Hong Kong! ~_^
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Old September 10th, 2009, 07:31 AM   #42
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Hong Kong Disneyland: Too Small

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort seriously lacks attractions. One can finish almost all of the rides in one day.

I hope it gets more visitors so that it can be feasibly expanded to rival the parks in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Paris.
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Old September 13th, 2009, 07:00 AM   #43
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Second-best attendance predicted for Disney
12 September 2009
SCMP

Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland this year is expected to edge up slightly to about 4.5 million, its second-highest so far, despite the global downturn and swine flu fears, according to sources familiar with the theme park's operation.

Since the park opened four years ago, the number of visitors has see-sawed, reaching about 5.2 million in the first year, then dropping to 4.17 million before rebounding to 4.48 million in 2007-08.

From last October to May, 3.13 million people visited. But summer attendance, especially from the mainland, suffered because of fears of human swine flu.

"Attendance will probably be flat or up a little compared with last year," the sources said. "Even though we're still making a loss, we managed to improve our finances."

Disney's financial period runs from October to September.

At rival Ocean Park, attendance fell about 5 per cent this year compared with last - from 5.03 million to about 4.78 million - but it was still the third-best year in its history.

According to the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the number of visitors to the city fell 13.4 per cent year on year in May, 15 per cent in June and 12.2 per cent in July. The number of mainland visitors was down 9.6 per cent in May, 11.6 per cent in June and 13.7 per cent in July.

Details about Hong Kong Disneyland's performance, including attendance, revenue, and costs and expenses, will be announced annually from the current financial year under a deal with the government to add more attractions. However, the figures must first be filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, meaning they will not be publicly disclosed until about five or six months later.

Expanding the Disney park is essential to boost attendance and the bottom line. Disney is especially keen to improve the return on its investment, since the amount of management fees it can collect is now linked to the park's performance.

Under the expansion deal negotiated with the government, the formula for its base management fee was changed from 2 per cent of gross revenue to 6.5 per cent of earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation, or ebitda.

The changes are significant. In the park's second year, for example, total revenue reached HK$2.36 billion, allowing Disney to collect a base management fee of 2 per cent, or about HK$47.28 million. Had the new formula been in place then, Disney would have received nothing, as ebitda amounted to a deficit of HK$272 million.

After deducting depreciation and interest expenses, the theme park recorded a net loss of more than HK$1.51 billion in the second year of operation, according to confidential documents.

Revenue is derived from selling tickets, food, merchandise and other goods and services. Disney can still benefit handsomely from a loss-making park as long as people spend money on food and merchandise, which is the revenue source it derives most of its royalties from.

In the third and fourth years of operations, Disney agreed to waive its management fees and defer royalties in a bid to shore up finances. Although the park will have to resume paying these fees from next month, the sources said the deferred royalties may not need to be paid if certain conditions are not met.

A HK$3.63 billion expansion will add three new themed areas, for a total of seven "lands", and see the area of the park increase by about 23 per cent. To facilitate the expansion, Disney will inject new funds while the government will use previous loans to the park to buy more of its shares.

The changes will lower the government's stake from 57 per cent to 53.43 per cent and increase Disney's holding from 43 per cent to 46.56 per cent by the end of this month.
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Old October 14th, 2009, 05:10 AM   #44
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Magic Kingdom ready to let good times roll
6 October 2009
The Standard

National Day Golden Week saw crowds at Disneyland up by between 7 percent and 9 percent on last year.

Park chiefs also said the occupancy rate at its two hotels was 90 percent.

The Lantau theme park's managing director, Andrew Kam Min- ho, said he is confident the market will remain buoyant even after the holiday, which ends on Thursday.

He said resources plowed in during the financial downturn have yielded returns, adding that attendances in general have not been too badly affected.

Fears over a human swine flu (H1N1) pandemic did hit the tourism industry from May to July but the numbers began to catch up in August.

He expects _ all things being equal _ the situation to return to pre-crisis levels by next year.

Kam said mainland tourists were less affected by the global economic downturn than visitors from Southeast Asia, but the drop in air ticket prices helped stimulate travel.

He added that Disney's HK$3.63 billion expansion project will begin by the end of this year.

In July, the theme park raised admission fees for Hong Kong residents from HK$295 to HK$350 for adults, and from HK$210 to HK$250 for children. Tourists have been charged these prices since February.

The surge in Golden Week holidaymakers also benefited related industries.

Cathay Pacific chief executive Tony Tyler said the traffic figures in the past week have been the best so far this year, with the number of passengers flying first class improving too.

But he said overall revenue is still low and that it is too early to say whether the industry has recovered.

Kwun Tong shopping mall APM has seen a good return on its enhanced promotion campaign.

As of Sunday, the number of visitors and business turnover reached 1.3 million and HK$35 million, respectively, representing an increase of 16 and 13 percent on last year.
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 03:19 PM   #45
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By kinlait from dchome :













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Old November 3rd, 2009, 03:22 PM   #46
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The whole thing is about Ocean Park, not Disney. Wrong location?
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Old November 3rd, 2009, 03:23 PM   #47
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The whole thing is about Ocean Park. Wrong location?
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Old November 5th, 2009, 04:38 PM   #48
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70pc of competitors are in the red, say industry insiders
5 November 2009
SCMP

Disney is going to Shanghai but, with 2,500 theme parks across the mainland, one might assume the world-famous brand will face stiff competition. Not so: 70 per cent of the parks are in the red, industry insiders say.

According to a survey by the Horizon Group, a strategic research and consultancy firm, about 150 billion yuan (HK$170.5 billion) has been invested in the 2,500 theme parks, but only about 10 per cent are making a profit.

Theme park closings make front-page news on the mainland all too often. In August, Guangzhou's Shijie Daguan (World Park) shut its gates with a deficit after being in business for nearly 15 years.

In 2007, Hangzhou Future World shut down with 260 million yuan in lost investments. In 2000, Shanghai's 400-million-yuan-invested Universal Park closed after only four years.

The most ephemeral one is the Froebelland Park in Wujiang , 70 kilometres west of Shanghai, involving an investment of 1 billion yuan. It shut down in 1999, less than one year after it opened.

Professor Dong Guanzhi of Jinan University released a research report on mainland theme parks, the first of its kind, after his team conducted interviews on hundreds of them. The common theme: they could not attract enough attendance to keep running.

"For example, a theme park with 1 billion yuan of investment needs to sell at least 5,000 tickets a day to repay its loans and pay employees' salaries and other maintenance fees," Dong said.

Investors in Froebelland Park, for example, optimistically hired 3,000 employees in anticipation of at least 15,000 visitors per day. Actually, it attracted fewer than 150 people one day. Dong said theme parks were still luxury goods to most Chinese people. "Most mainland theme parks charge 100 or 200 yuan for one ticket. That's far beyond what people can afford," he said. "Not to mention trying to have frequent visitors."

The history of failures has not stopped new capital from trying to enter the mainland theme park market, however.

Billions of yuan are still going into new parks in Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Hubei and Shandong , among other places, with the encouragement of local governments.

"Local governments are always wooing big theme parks and treating the parks as the officials' political achievement, with a slogan to create jobs and tourism income," Dong said. "Under the excuse of developing theme parks, developers can easily get support and land from local authorities."

But developers don't want just theme parks. Their final aims are to build resort destinations comprising theme parks, hotels, golf courses and real estate, especially villas.

The

But despite the shaky history, the mainland continues its theme park optimism. According to this year's edition of

China's Tourism Green Book, the mainland will enter a new era of park development from next year. While more international theme parks will enter the Chinese market, it says, domestic theme parks will also grow. Copyright (c) 2009. South China Morning Post Publishers Ltd. All rights reserved.

Beijing Business Today quoted an unidentified industry insider as saying: "A theme park developer doesn't really lose money even if its theme park goes into the red ... local governments ask only small land-transfer fees ... the developers make great money when they build projects on commercial property around the theme park and sell them out. Even if a theme park shuts down, its developer can still sell the land and get the money back."
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Old November 15th, 2009, 06:21 AM   #49
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Stop building castles in the air
12 November 2009
The Standard

Once upon a time there was a land of rolling plains and infinite skies, of happy Caucasian couples and beautiful blue eyes, of marble columns and navy pies ...

I guess my poor attempt at poetry wouldn't render any romantic imagery, but I think you get the picture.

No, it's not Disneyland princesses and their lovely princes, but a similar wonderland by the name of Lake Silver.

It is also known as the humongous chunk of cement that landed like a UFO next to our school, jammed half the phone reception networks and lit up the sky above our roof, making what used to be dazzling stars in the night sky look like scattered dandruff.

The two-minute commercial for this development was the subject of a recent complaint to the Broadcasting Authority which ruled it ``misleading.''

I watched it on the internet again and, as I surfed estate building commercials, I noticed to my amusement their common theme _ happy couples in ball gowns, splendid sea views, grand classical orchestral tunes.

I thought how much more far-fetched can these advertisements possibly be?

They are, in some ways, imposing on us their definition of success and in quietly shaping our value system: materialism is the root of happiness; if you have a house, a wife/husband, two kids and a decent view from your balcony, you're a success.

But then it also works the other way round. Advertisements are a reflection of what we want.

Yes, and it bothers me to think that it is not these companies imposing their values on us; we are projecting our values onto them by perceiving success as wealth with a Western air. Think about it, have you ever seen an estate commercial accompanied by pipa music?

It is our thirst for more, our refusal to settle for reality, that keeps us from being happy, nothing more, nothing less.

And here, one of my favourite quotes, by Leo Tolstoy, comes to mind: If you want to be happy, be.

So maybe it's time to stop building castles in the air. I'm not bashing dreams and squashing happiness. I'm just suggesting that maybe we can find them at a more realistic altitude. Maybe it's not that bad to live in a huge chunk of cement _ more than 90 percent of us do and find happiness therein. At least it's a realistic dream.

Student Gloria Yu lives life with passion and writes about it with hope.
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Old November 22nd, 2009, 07:02 PM   #50
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Disney seeks to consolidate reputation in China
19 November 2009
Media

The entertainment giant will use a new theme park to build on an already strong brand.

Not content with just the one Disneyland in Greater China, The Walt Disney Company has finally reached an agreement with the Chinese Government to develop a new theme park attraction in the Pudong district of Shanghai. Disneyland Shanghai will cost US$3.7 billion to build and is scheduled to open in 2014.

The news signals a remarkable comeback by Disney, whose characters first appeared in China in the 1930s but, for obvious reasons, struggled to make any headway for much of the latter half of the 20th century. In the 1980s the brand was expelled from China altogether.

After that setback, Disney operated out of Hong Kong, says David Wolf, CEO of Wolf Group Asia, and made "slow, but important progress" in importing products into China. "In 1996, Disney started working with a small US company to produce a Mickey Mouse radio show on China National Radio," he says.

Since then it has grown in status to become one of the strongest foreign brands in China. "It has one of the highest brand loyalty and brand equity levels we have seen among foreign brands, along with Apple and KFC," says Ben Cavender, senior analyst at China Market Research Group. "Both children and parents love the brand and think that it provides great edutainment."

The entertainment company has managed to expand into areas such as education, with the launch of the Disney English-language teaching programme in Shanghai in 2008. The opening of a Disneyland, then, should be a good opportunity to consolidate this status.

Compared with the Hong Kong attraction, Shanghai Disneyland promises to be more squarely aimed at a Chinese audience. Unlike Hong Kong, Chinese consumers will not need a visa to visit the Shanghai attraction. And the huge number of people living within a few hours' drive of the park bodes well for ticket sales.

Hong Kong Disneyland faced a number of challenges in its early days, including criticism of its small size. Cavender says Disney has learned from the challenges it faced in Hong Kong. "Disney has already announced that Disney Shanghai will be the largest in the world. That is a great first step, as Chinese like things big."

Edmund Ng, business director of Greater China at brand specialist consultancy Cowan, also advises that a different strategy is needed to target mainland consumers. "Imposing the traditional Disney framework will not work. Chinese audiences are different, and these differences must be acknowledged. The planned theme park in Shanghai looks to address specific needs of the China market and has the potential to be a big hit. The park should also help increase demand for other Disney-themed products and services such as Disney English and Disney-branded clothing and paraphernalia."

Unlike its experience in many markets, Disney has only limited (legal) distribution of its media content to reinforce its brand. It does not own channels in China and the amount of content that can be imported from the US is heavily restricted. It has built some relationships and collaborations with local partners to develop and air movies, and has allocated a budget to China to grow its local movie production in the future.

Wolf says the future of Disney in China is based on three factors. "We're not going to see a Disney Channel in China any time soon, but Disney's desire to replicate its identity in China in a locally appropriate fashion is based on characters, media and experiences. This doesn't have to be in the form of animation. The brand needs to look at how it's going to get mileage out of its global characters and how to adapt its stories to China to include content and Chinese characters."
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Old November 29th, 2009, 05:42 PM   #51
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Is a small start for Disney just a big ploy?
25 November 2009
SCMP

How big Shanghai Disneyland will ultimately become remains a pressing question, after Beijing announced that only 116 hectares had been reserved for the city's long-coveted theme park.

The announcement raised eyebrows, as the space represents only a quarter of the 4 sq km, or 400 hectares, reported when Shanghai unveiled its plan for the mega project three weeks ago.

So officially, Shanghai Disneyland will be smaller than its Hong Kong rival, which covers 126 hectares. But as time goes by, Shanghai could become the biggest.

Two Shanghai government officials with the knowledge of the matter said that the statement by the National Development and Reform Commission referred only to the first phase of construction, and that there would be future expansion.

Admitting that details of the project had yet to be finalised, one Pudong district government official said that the Shanghai park would definitely outgrow its Hong Kong counterpart.

It may boil down to tactics that the mainland is adopting to nurture the growth of its own Magic Kingdom.

First, the central government and Shanghai municipality have yet to allay concerns of a bitter rivalry between Shanghai and Hong Kong as they up the ante to vie for tourists.

It is a middle road that Shanghai appears to be taking, to steady Hong Kong nerves and demonstrate effusive goodwill after Li Bincheng, a division director of the city's tourism administration, made upbeat remarks in August that the densely populated China market could sustain even three Disney theme parks.

It is believed that Shanghai's park, set to open in 2014, will eventually cover 10 sq km, after second- and third-phase expansions.

A Shanghai-based political analyst, who asked not to be identified, said: "It's another game of politics. Beijing definitely has its reasons to understate the size of the first phase."

Second, Beijing has to play down fears of an invasion of Western culture, after a group of scholars and government officials lodged complaints that the landing of Mickey Mouse would give full play to the United States' entertainment industry in China, denting the growth of homegrown companies and eroding the country's cultural heritage.

Analysts said the mainland was taking a go-slow approach to build Shanghai Disneyland, as it considered the potential damage to the domestic entertainment sector.

It was reported that the Ministry of Culture objected to the building of the park last year when the central government reviewed Shanghai's proposal for the multibillion-yuan project.

Third, Shanghai has stepped up efforts to cool the red-hot property market amid frenzied land and home purchases, as the news of the park heightened people's expectations of soaring property prices.

On November 4, when Shanghai officially announced its plan to build a Disney theme park, a parcel of land three kilometres from the Disney site was sold at 14,024 yuan (HK$15,935) per square metre in an auction, nearly quadruple what land authorities had targeted.

A wild price gain for Disneyland-related stocks has also panicked officials, with the Shanghai government and the China Securities Regulatory Commission fearing a boom-to-bust cycle when profit-taking sets in.

The Jielong Industry Group, which owns a parcel of land near the Disney site, now trades at more than 500 times its earnings for last year. The average price-to-earnings multiple among Shanghai-listed firms stood at 28 yesterday.

And the Shanghai government could go it alone by expanding the construction site without Beijing's approval.

An economist close to the city government said: "It wouldn't be a surprise if Shanghai took a bold step to unilaterally expand the size of the park, since there remain policy loopholes for the city to take advantage of.

"The city government would say the expanded space is for the related projects such as hotels and commercial buildings."
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Old December 1st, 2009, 05:27 PM   #52
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Hong Kong Disneyland says no plan for further expansion
30 November 2009
Agence France Presse

Hong Kong's Disneyland on Monday dismissed a report that it is mulling a further expansion in a bid to compete with a planned new park in Shanghai.

The Hong Kong Economic Times cited an unnamed source as saying that Disneyland is considering a further enlargement, after it announced a deal in July to expand the venue by almost one quarter.

But a Disneyland spokeswoman said there was no such plan.

"The current position is to implement the extension plan as agreed in July with the development of the three themed areas in phases. There has been no discussion on further expansion," she told AFP.

Under the deal announced in July, Disney would invest 6.2 billion Hong Kong dollars (795 million US) to build 30 new attractions over the next five years.

The government will retain control of the park with a 52 percent ownership stake.

Since its opening in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland has been desperate to boost the number and quality of its attractions at the three billion US dollar venue as it struggles to attract visitors.

But the park's future became more uncertain after China announced earlier this month that it had given the green light for Disney to build its long-awaited theme park on the Chinese mainland in Shanghai.

There were concerns that both mainland Chinese and overseas tourists would shun the Hong Kong park when the Shanghai venue opens in 2014.

The first phase of construction for Shanghai Disneyland will cover only 116 hectares (1.2 square kilometres), making it smaller than the 126-hectare Hong Kong park and one of the smallest of Disney's franchises.
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Old December 15th, 2009, 04:28 AM   #53
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China big enough to support Disneylands in Shanghai and Hong Kong, top executive says
13 December 2009

HONG KONG (AP) - China is big enough to support two Disneyland resorts, a top executive said Sunday, amid concerns the company's new Shanghai park would draw visitors away from its one in Hong Kong.

Bill Ernest, president of The Walt Disney Co.'s parks in Asia, noted that in the U.S., where the population is about a quarter of the size of China's, there are already two major resorts -- in Orlando, Fla., and in Anaheim, Calif.

"We think there's plenty of room," Ernest said at a groundbreaking ceremony for a long-awaited expansion of Hong Kong's Disneyland. "We think there's plenty of business there that supports both parks."

China's planning agency approved plans for a Disney theme park in Shanghai last month, part of a government push to develop China's biggest city into a global services center and tourist destination.

The Shanghai park has been estimated to cost $3.5 billion, though Ernest said it was too early in negotiations with the government to give any details about the resort's price tag, attractions or capital structure.

The addition of three new theme areas in Hong Kong's park will enlarge the resort by nearly a quarter over the next five years.

The $465 million expansion, announced in July, was considered a long-overdue move to lure more young adults and other visitors by addressing complaints the park was too small.

It opened in 2005 to great fanfare only to suffer disappointing attendance its first two years. However, visitor numbers in its third year grew by 8 percent, the Hong Kong government says.

Likely anticipating a Shanghai park, Hong Kong secured as part of the expansion two new areas, featuring "frontier town" and "rain forest" themes that will be unique among Disneylands worldwide when they open. The third area, based on the hit Disney-Pixar "Toy Story" films, will be exclusive in Asia.

The park is a joint venture between Hong Kong's government, which is separate from mainland China's, and the American entertainment giant, based in Burbank, Calif.
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Old January 4th, 2010, 11:37 AM   #54
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Theme Park Developers Turn Their Attention to Asia, Where Business Is Growing
26 December 2009
The New York Times

SINGAPORE -- The global downturn put some United States theme parks into bankruptcy and upended grand plans for new ones in the Middle East. But in Asia, a development boomlet is under way as operators race to open parks and add attractions to draw in the region's growing middle class.

A Universal Studios park is set to open early next year in Singapore at Resorts World at Sentosa, a sprawling development that includes a casino. Over the border in Malaysia, ground has just been broken on the first Legoland in Asia, scheduled to open in 2012.

In Hong Kong, the roughly $750 million redevelopment of Ocean Park is to be completed in 2013, while Hong Kong Disneyland Resort recently began a $465 million expansion project that is to add three areas by 2014. And last month, Disney finally won approval from the Chinese government to build a theme park in Shanghai; it is expected to open in five to six years.

''Even with the economic hardship the world has been feeling, there is still stability in this part of the world, and people are still looking to do things that are out of the ordinary,'' said Tom Mehrmann, chief executive of Ocean Park in Hong Kong.

Overall attendance at the world's top 25 theme parks has declined over the last couple of years, according to a report by Economic Research Associates, a consulting firm, and the Themed Entertainment Association, an international industry association. But visits to the 10 most-visited Asia-Pacific parks have continued to increase, albeit at a slow pace. With this upward trend expected to accelerate, developers are focusing on the region.

The industry anticipates solid growth in Asia, even though over the last six years, the number of what Mr. Mehrmann called world-class parks in the region has risen to more than 35, from about 15. ''What it says is that the market is growing, the middle class is growing, discretionary time and money is growing,'' he said.

Ocean Park had a record 5.03 million visitors in the fiscal year that ended in June 2008 and registered a small drop to 4.8 million in its fiscal 2009. But Mr. Mehrmann said that attendance had started to rebound in August.

Recent signals from big industry players point to a bleak near-term picture worldwide. Revenue at Walt Disney's parks and resorts dropped 7 percent, to $10.6 billion, in the fiscal year ended in September. Universal Studios' theme parks, which General Electric sold along with NBC Universal to Comcast, have also been struggling this year, though according to G.E., the company has been able to offset the attendance declines partly with cost-cutting.

Meanwhile, Six Flags, which owns 20 amusement parks, mainly in the United States, filed for bankruptcy protection in June, burdened by high debt and declining attendance. It is now working on a restructuring plan with creditors. Dubailand, which was to include Paramount, Marvel and DreamWorks Animation theme parks among others, is now only a distant dream.

But some investors see opportunities in the downturn. Apollo Global Management said last week that it would acquire the theme park operator Cedar Fair in a deal worth about $2.4 billion, including assumed debt. Cedar Fair's properties include Cedar Point in Ohio, Canada's Wonderland near Toronto, Dorney Park in Pennsylvania and Knott's Berry Farm and Great America in Southern California. Cedar Fair said that attendance had dropped by 1.2 million visitors during the first three quarters.

The deal follows an agreement in October by the Blackstone Group to buy Anheuser-Busch Inbev's 10 theme parks in the United States for $2.7 billion, including the SeaWorld parks in Orlando and San Diego and Busch Gardens in Tampa, Fla., three of the most-visited theme parks in the world. Blackstone already has a majority stake in the Merlin Entertainment Group -- which owns Legoland, among other parks -- and the Anheuser-Busch assets will make the private equity firm the second-largest company in the theme park business, after Disney.

John Ussher, general manager of Legoland development at Merlin, said that his company wanted to introduce the brand across the globe. ''We've had a good year, we've weathered the storm well throughout our parks in Europe and the United States,'' he said, while declining to provide attendance numbers. ''We feel very strongly about the potential of the new park in Malaysia. The region has terrific potential.''

The company is also working on a Dubai Legoland, although Mr. Ussher said the project had been delayed and the new expected opening date was 2015. He said Legoland was also looking for sites in South Korea and Japan and would be interested in developing a park in China.

The arrival of new competitors in Asia has put pressure on existing players in the region. Ocean Park opened two major new attractions this year: Amazing Asian Animals, an exhibit spanning 270,000 square feet, and Ocean Express, a 0.8-mile train ride that simulates traveling in a submarine. Next year the park will open Aqua City, an ocean-themed area with a new aquarium complex.

Mr. Mehrmann said the redevelopment and expansion of his park were essential to keeping it relevant, especially as China added a string of regional theme parks. Chinese news media recently reported that an ''Andersen's Fairy Park,'' based on the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen, would open in Shanghai to coincide with the 2010 World Expo.

Japan, with its aging population and stagnating economy, may be one exception to the relatively rosy outlook for Asian theme parks. Attendance at most Japanese parks was flat or down in 2008, with the exception of Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea, according to the research report. Admissions at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka decreased by 5.8 percent, to 8.1 million, during the year that ended in March. USJ, the operator of the park, was sold for $1.12 billion to a consortium led by Goldman Sachs Group this year.

Gabriel Chan, an Asia gambling research analyst at Credit Suisse, said he doubted the new theme parks would cannibalize one another, as they all had differences in terms of rides. For example Universal Studios Singapore will have the world's only ''Madagascar'' attraction, and will also bring to life the first ''Far Far Away'' castle based on the Shrek movie franchise.

One exception, Mr. Chan said, could be Hong Kong Disneyland. The Shanghai Disney park, he said could be a threat to Disney's Hong Kong property, ''given the fact that a lot of Disney's Hong Kong visitors are mainland Chinese.''
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Old January 11th, 2010, 01:48 PM   #55
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The battle of the amusement parks
10 January 2010
The Jakarta Post

With their roller coasters, costumed characters and cotton candy, amusement parks never fail to put a grin on visitors' faces. We compare a few of the favorites in the region.

Universal Studios, Osaka

Long before Universal Studios had any plans to open a park in Singapore in the first quarter of this year, this park in Japan was a top entertainment destination for families. It's easy to see why because the movie-themed park has rides and attractions for people of all ages.

Our favorite ride, hands down, was "The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman", which incorporates 4D technology into a rollercoaster ride. Expect eye-popping images flying at you with tactile effects such as feeling the heat of an explosion or the spray of water on your face, which creates an almost-real experience.

"Back to the Future: The Ride" offers a similar concept with the added element of time travel.

"Hollywood Dream - The Ride" is another rollercoaster ride with a twist. Built-in speakers in the headrest allow for a choice of music selection (Michael Jackson, J-Pop, and The Beatles to name a few) as you go off the rails, so to speak. The ride is not as scary as it appears from down below, with just a mild dose of adrenalin.

Don't miss "JAWS", which puts visitors on a boat ride in a man-made river where dangerous creatures leap out of the water to give them a good shock. Go at early dusk, when the darkening sky adds much creepiness to the atmosphere. Follow it with "Backdraft", set on a blazing factory site. This is as close as you can get to being a firefighter, witnessing explosions and an inferno taking center stage.

The downside of Universal Studios Osaka is that shows on screen, such as "Shrek's 4D Adventure" and "Terminator 2: 3D" are dubbed in Japanese. Skip "Terminator 2: 3D" as the ride will get you lost in (no) translation with its overly long Japanese introduction. However, if you have spare time, "the Shrek show" is still worth watching despite the language barrier. The kids will have a blast with the 4D effects.

Before leaving the park, make a stop at the WaterWorld stunt show. More thrilling than the actual film and at only a mere fraction of its running time, the audience will be served with water action scenes, flying jet skis, fireballs and more importantly, a drenching down for those in the front rows. Plus you won't have to put up with Kevin Costner's stiff acting this time. Log on to www.usj.co.jp for ticket fares, opening hours, etc.

Disneyland, Hong Kong

It's every child's fantasy to visit Disneyland at least once in his or her life, and since the opening of Disneyland Hong Kong in 2005, that dream has been closer than ever. Little ones will love the idea of having their favorite Disney characters from the small screens come to life. Take a leisurely stroll through the park and let the kids mingle with Mickey and co.

In particular, we will never stop recommending "Space Mountain" to any Disneyland newbie. The rollercoaster ride is better than many others as it catapults riders at a high speed into "space", full of stars, comets and planets. An adrenalin booster at the start that becomes a fascinating space ride, it's one Disneyland landmark not to be missed.

Those who have been to Disneyland Paris, Tokyo or Orlando will see the Hong Kong branch is missing some of the all-time favorites such as "Peter Pan's Flight" and "Pirates of the Caribbean". And too bad, Disneyland Hong Kong also pales in comparison with other theme parks in terms of heart-stopping rides.

Clearly, the park is aimed at families with children. What Disneyland Hong Kong lacks in thrill-seeking rides, it makes up for in a variety of entertainment for the little ones. Head to Fantasy Land and let the kids run wild on "Mad Hatter's Tea Cups", "Dumbo the Flying Elephant", "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh", and "Cinderella Carousel" for the best day of their lives. We also loved "Festival of The Lion King", a feast-for-the-eyes stage show that's fun for all family members.

Those who like to have a complete Disney-vaganza for the whole family can stay at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel with goodies like free park admission or the Disney Princesses dress up event. The website park.hongkongdisneyland.com has all the details.

Warner Bros Movie World, Gold Coast

Tourists go to the Gold Coast in Queensland, Australia, for either the beach or the theme parks. Or you can have both by making time for Movie World in between the strolls along white sandy beaches.

Movie World, endorsed by Warner Bros, has many amusing rides that draw their inspiration from summer blockbusters. There are at least three big roller coasters in the park, "Scooby-Doo Spooky Coaster", "Lethal Weapon - The Ride" and "Superman Escape". The latter is the park's most talked about roller coaster that accelerates from 0 to 100 km/h in under two seconds. Visitors are given a chance to act as MRT passengers in a fatal incident who desperately need to be saved by Superman himself. From indoor to outdoor, the "MRT" takes you on a journey of non-stop drops, turns, hills and twists.

Another superhero from the big screen, Batman, is also saving people under his wing when he launches to the sky in "Batwing Spaceshot". In this high-octane event, riders are propelled up to the sky (61 meters high to be exact) at 64 km/h speed. Raise your hands in the air and let the blood rush to your head.

For toddlers familiar with Looney Tunes characters, "Kids WB Fun Zone" is the place to be. They'll easily shriek with joy with "Tweety and Silvester Cages", "Road Runner Roller Coaster" and "Looney Tunes River Ride".

Right next door to Movie World, kids and adults alike can have a jolly splashing time at the Wet`n'Wild Water world, a water park with plenty of attractions to go wild about. What's even better is that it's summertime in Australia now until March. Check movieworld.myfun.com.au for special offers on combo tickets and more.
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Old January 18th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #56
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Opinion : We must work together
17 January 2010
South China Morning Post

I accept that Shanghai's Disneyland will pose a threat to Hong Kong and the government should find ways to deal with this problem.

The government should encourage the creation of more tourist spots.

We need to attract more visitors to come to our buildings which are of historical importance. Many people are more interested in looking round older buildings. We all have a duty to support our city and I would like to see a more united front on the part of Hongkongers.

So often I hear citizens saying that we have to accept we will lose out to increased competition from the mainland. We should not be so negative.

If we work together and support our city, I believe it can remain competitive.

Jonathan Mak Ka-long, Sha Tin
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Old January 19th, 2010, 05:23 PM   #57
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SCED speaks on Hong Kong Disneyland financial performance
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
Government Press Release

Following is the transcript (English portion) of remarks by the Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, Mrs Rita Lau, to the media before the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Commerce and Industry this afternoon (January 19):

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development: This report of the financial performance is published in accordance with the agreement reached between The Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong Government as part of the expansion plan. We note obviously as a shareholder the performance as delivered by the theme park company is certainly falling short of our general expectation. I wish to point out, however, that the theme park is a long-term investment, which forms part of the tourism infrastructure of Hong Kong. In expressing our concern on the performance of the theme park, we also wish to point out that since its opening in 2005, it has received over 19 million visitors and has contributed quite significantly to the Hong Kong economy.

Nevertheless, we remain concerned and we will continue to monitor the performance and operation of the theme park. And it is very important for the management to control costs to improve the company's efficiency and operation with a view to boosting its performance.

Next week, we will have the opportunity to brief members of the Legislative Council (Economic Development) Panel, and we certainly hope that the company management will be able to share with members its business plan for the coming year and its promotional strategy with a view to boosting the park's performance, as well as its general business.
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Old January 20th, 2010, 04:19 AM   #58
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All-revealing Disney gets an earful
The Standard
Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Hong Kong Disneyland has opened its books to reveal a loss of HK$1.3 billion.

The figure, for the fiscal year up to last October, compared with a HK$1.6 billion loss in the previous 12 months.

The attraction - going public since first opening in 2005 - saw 4.6 million visitors, an increase of 2 percent on the 4.5 million in 2008.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said the government - as the largest shareholder - is dissatisfied with the financial performance and will continue to keep close watch on the theme park's cost controls and efficiency.

But Lau then sounded more conciliatory: "The park is a long-term investment, and it takes a longer time for return - just like many large-scale projects."

Lawmakers will be discussing Disneyland next week and they are sure to focus on the fact that the multibillion- dollar attraction, in which taxpayers hold a stake of close to 53 percent and the Walt Disney Co the rest, appears a long way from breaking even.

Disneyland, in fact, appears to be set for a lot more red ink until a major expansion of facilities is completed four years from now.

Legco economic development panel member Fred Li Wah-ming gave a hint of things to come when he complained the park had failed to reveal full details of expenses and income.

Li said it also needs to explain why it continues to fall short of its targeted annual attendance of 5.6 million.

Disneyland managing director Andrew Kam Min-ho sought
to put a positive spin on the overall performance, saying a HK$70 million loss before interest payments and taxes, depreciation and amortization was less than 3 percent of revenue, while costs and expenses were reduced by 4.3 percent to HK$2.6 billion.

The outbreak of human swine flu (H1N1) and the financial crisis were cited as putting the brakes on attendances last year.

Mainlanders and local residents increased by 2 percent and 1 percent respectively to 36 percent and 41 percent of all visitors, but international patronage fell.

So did visitor spending, by 1 percent, along with hotel occupancy, down from 78 percent to 70 percent.

Total attendance since opening up to last December stood at 19 million.

Kam said the HK$3.6 billion park expansion project involving three themed areas will be completed by 2014, increasing total size by 23 percent.

He hopes the attraction will be able to break even after the expansion.

Raymond So Wai-man, of the Chinese University's department of finance, said Disneyland has reduced losses by cutting costs.

So is optimistic the park may break even in three to four years, but doubts a surplus may be generated in the foreseeable future.
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Old January 26th, 2010, 10:47 AM   #59
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Disney hopes Guangdong passes will work magic
The Standard
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Hong Kong Disneyland is considering issuing annual passes to Shenzhen and Guangzhou residents to build up a base of loyal customers.

At yesterday's meeting of the Legislative Council's economic development panel, a theme park executive said Disney is hoping more mainland customers will return.

According to its fiscal report released last week, 36 percent of park visitors came from the mainland in 2009, an increase of 2 percent on the previous year.

Hong Kong Disneyland managing director Andrew Kam Min-ho said the park will focus its promotions on the mainland by classifying 24 cities in three target groups.

It will also establish its fourth mainland office in Chengdu in March.

"In the future, we will concentrate more on Guangdong residents, the largest mainland market to our park. Seeing the opportunities derived from CEPA [Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement] and loosened visa policies, we hope to attract more tourists from Guangzhou and Shenzhen," Kam said.

"That is why we are considering issuing annual passes for Shenzhen and Guangzhou residents hoping for more frequent returns to Hong Kong."

The park will attract young adults as well as families through special events, such as Lunar New Year celebrations to mark the Year of the Tiger.

In this year's working plan, Kam said the park will work on increasing attendances and occupancy of its two hotels, while implementing cost controls.

When asked by Democratic Party lawmaker Albert Ho Chun-yan if there is any cooperation with other local attractions, Kam replied Disney is discussing the bundling of tourist packages with cable cars operation Ngong Ping 360.

Lawmakers also asked how the park will tackle its loss of around HK$2.8 billion over the past two years.

Kam said Disney hopes to break even as soon as possible with new attractions opening after expansion in 2014.

Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said the government, which is Disneyland's largest shareholder, will keep monitoring the operation that is a long-term investment.

The government will sell its stake when the operation stabilizes.
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Old February 3rd, 2010, 08:33 PM   #60
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Disneyland's problems can be fixed, says park veteran
25 January 2010
SCMP

Hong Kong Disneyland's net losses of HK$4.4 billion in the past three years is at "the high end of the scale", but could be corrected by reinvestment and increased market penetration, a theme park veteran says.

"By the third year a park should be profitable," Darrell Metzger, the International Association of Theme Parks and Attractions' immediate past chairman said in an interview.

Metzger worked in the Disney resorts in California and Tokyo for 10 years before running Ocean Park from 1991 to 1995. He also managed Sentosa Island Resort in Singapore for nearly seven years from 2001.

Based on information revealed by Disneyland last week and a confidential document, which was seen by the South China Morning Post earlier, the theme park's HK$4.4 billion in losses does not include its first year when its loss was believed to be HK$1 billion or more.

"Substantial losses for three years would indicate a more fundamental problem," Metzger said.

He said Hong Kong Disneyland had found it difficult to "steal" loyal clients from Ocean Park and had to rely on broadening the market.

One area Disney had to look at was its hotel occupancy rate, which dropped to 70 per cent last year because of the prevalence of human swine flu.

By comparison, Disney hotels in Orlando and Tokyo usually had occupancy rates of between 80 per cent and 90 per cent.

Metzger said Disney themed hotels required a higher occupancy rate because they had the added costs of providing entertainment such as appearances by Disney characters, which was more expensive than any five-star competitor would dare to spend.

Hong Kong Disneyland last year attracted 4.6 million guests, with each visitor spending an average of HK$552.

Raymond So Wai-man, associate professor of finance at Chinese University, estimated that the park could break even if it boosted either the attendance figure or average spending figure by 50 per cent to HK$828 per capita spending or 6.9 million guests.

"Obviously, it's impossible to achieve that in a year," So said. "Under the most optimistic scenario, the number of guests will surge to 6.9 million visitors by 2014 if the attendance increases by 10 per cent year on year from now on."

Disneyland's management has forecast that it will break even after 2014 when a HK$3.63 billion expansion is completed.

Metzger agrees with this projection, saying the theme park "will be approaching break-even or mild profits in the next five years". Now based in California, he said the challenge to increasing attendance was in luring more visitors during non-peak dates, which required a solid and consistent marketing and sales strategy.

Metzger expects Disneyland to be a must-see Hong Kong attraction for tourists in 10 years.

He believed the park helped enrich Hong Kong as a tourist destination and was "characteristically ahead of the curve" with Singapore opening Universal Studios this month and South Korea in 2014, as well as Shanghai Disneyland opening in several years.

Legislators will discuss Disneyland's performance at today's meeting of the economic development panel.
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