Mouse puts out more perks for H.K. park

Ernest adds 11 more blackout days to the year

After five months of bad publicity, Disney is aggressively wooing the public to Hong Kong Disneyland.

On Wednesday the park’s new exec VP-managing director Bill Ernest delivered on his vow, made to Hong Kong’s Legislative Council two days earlier, to solve one of its big problems: overcrowding.

Flexible tickets, which can be used within six months, caused problems during the busy Chinese New Year period in late January; the park reached capacity on several days and guests had to be turned away.

Ernest has added 11 more blackout days to the park’s year, which runs through the end of September, when people holding flexible tickets will not be admitted. This will be tested during May’s Golden Week and China’s Labor Day.

“Anyone with a ticket stamped for those days will be able to enter and enjoy the park,” Ernest said. “And the travel trade and visitors will be informed in advance” of the extended days.

“We are also considering logistical improvements to our facilities in the unlikely event that we need to restrict park access at any time,” Ernest said. These include communicating better with the travel industry, as well as better crowd management.

The government, a majority shareholder in the $3.5 billion joint venture, was concerned about overcrowding.

Tour organizers threatened to file suits, while other agencies tried to collect compensation for tourists who were shut out in January.

Park expansion is another way to increase capacity. There are three attractions planned for this summer: Autopia, featuring cars that run on batteries, will take drivers through a futuristic landscape; Stitch Encounter will allow visitors to get up close to animatronic characters from the feature toon “Lilo & Stitch”; and the UFO Cool Zone will spray mist on guests trying to escape heat and humidity.

The New Year’s problem was the latest headache for the park, which opened in September. Incidents included a death, as well as complaints that the park’s blueprints are sealed to the public.