Hong Kong Disneyland to expand

Timetable, financing still unclear

HONG KONG – Talks are underway to significantly expand the struggling Hong Kong Disneyland theme park. But a timetable and financing are unclear.

According to the South China Morning Post the Hong Kong government and Disney are now discussing addition of three new themed ‘lands’ at a cost of some HK$5 billion ($645 million).

A spokesman for Hong Kong Disney Resorts, holding company for Hong Kong Disneyland, declined to comment, saying that these were “negotiations between two private shareholders.”

Expansion talks come at a pivotal moment. The Hong Kong government, which owns a 57% majority of the park, is not keen to invest more in the park which has failed to meet attendance targets since its September 2005 opening. But the threat of economic slowdown has made the authorities keener to help job-creating, infrastructure projects.

The park, which opened in September 2005, has been repeatedly criticized as too small and lacking in some of the staple attractions of Disney theme parks elsewhere, notably ‘Pirates of the Caribbean’ and ‘Haunted House.’ Park’s main segments currently consist of ‘Fantasyland,’ ‘Tomorrowland,’ ‘Adventureland’ and ‘Main Street USA.’

In an attempt to boost attendance, the park has been relying on lower cost, parade style attractions that leverage popular Disney properties such as “High School Musical.”

Park’s poor performance meant that Disney Corp. provided $423 million of loans to replace a similar amount of commercial debt that was due to expire.

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