Just weeks after the announcement of mainland China’s first Disneyland theme park, Disney park prexy Bill Ernest broke ground on an expansion of the Hong Kong park, saying that China had room for two Disneylands.
“We think there’s plenty of business there that supports both parks,” he said at Sunday’s ceremony to mark the start of a project that will add three new theme areas and enlarge the park by nearly a quarter over the next five years.
Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, officiated at the ceremony, which was also attended by John Tsang, financial secretary of Hong Kong.
The $465 million expansion, announced in July, comes after critics said the park was too small.
There have been concerns that the new Shanghai park, which received government approval last month and is likely to cost $3.5 billion, could lure mainland visitors away from the Hong Kong facility. Ernest said that was not an issue, pointing out that there are two major Disney parks resorts in the U.S., in Florida and California, that were very well attended even though the population of the U.S. is only a quarter of China’s 1.3 billion.
The expansion will bring the number of attractions, entertainment and interactive experiences at Hong Kong Disneyland to more than 100, create 3,700 jobs during construction and 600 new full-time jobs after expansion.
Two of the three themed areas, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point, will be exclusive to Hong Kong Disneyland for the first five years after opening. The third, Toy Story Land, will be exclusive within Asia for the first five years after opening.
Hong Kong Disneyland is a joint venture between Hong Kong’s government and Disney.