December 18, 2007 / 6:37 AM / 10 years ago

Hong Kong Disney crowds disappoint for second year

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland, which the government had already branded unsatisfactory, fell to just over 4 million in its second year, it said on Tuesday, representing a fall of more than 20 percent.

Visitors wear raincoats featuring Mickey Mouse at Hong Kong's Disneyland in this September 12, 2006 file photo. Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland, which the government had already branded unsatisfactory, fell to just over 4 million in its second year, it said on Tuesday, representing a fall of more than 20 percent. REUTERS/Paul Yeung

Walt Disney Co’s second Asian-based magic kingdom after Japan has spluttered along since opening to great hype in September 2005.

After attracting a lower-than-expected 5.2 million visitors in its first year, Hong Kong Disneyland said its second year attendance was near the 4 million mark.

“The second year we had more than 4 million visitors, which makes up a total number of more than 10 million for 26 months,” said spokeswoman Glendy Chu.

Disney wouldn’t give a more specific figure, given its policy of not sharing commercially sensitive information, though the 4 million figure represents a drop in attendance of over 20 percent.

“In the short term, we did not achieve the attendance targets for which we had hoped. We recognise that we need to bolster our numbers which is our focus today,” Disney added in a statement.

Hong Kong Disneyland had not previously released a second year attendance figure following its slow start, prompting Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma to say recently that Disneyland’s performance was “not satisfactory”.

The park has suffered from its small size, peak-period crowds and a limited number of major attractions, making it a challenge to snare repeat visitors, especially those from China. A rival theme park, Ocean Park has also eaten into Disney’s business against the odds, and now enjoys higher attendance numbers.

The firm is also under pressure to find funds for a revamp.

It had to recently negotiate with its lenders to re-schedule its commercial term loan facility of HK$2.3 billion (US$295 million), and to remove financial performance covenants to ease its debt burden.

Disney said it would add new attractions next year.

Disneyland’s main theme park rival in Hong Kong, the home-grown Ocean Park, pulled in 4.92 million visitors for the same period, according to the Ming Pao newspaper.

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