Disney exec: Two China theme parks not rivals

13:44, December 14, 2009      

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A top Disney executive said Sunday in Hong Kong that the company pursues holistic development in the country, and its two Disneyland resorts should be complementary to each other.

The statement came amid concerns that the company's new Shanghai park would draw visitors away from its location in Hong Kong.

Bill Ernest, president of The Walt Disney Co.'s parks in Asia, showed confidence in the Hong Kong project during a groundbreaking ceremony for a long-awaited expansion of the Disneyland in the special administrative region (SAR).

Ernest said the local park is still the largest investment by the company in Asia, and he expects significant growth for the park in the coming years, as he believes tourist numbers will keep increasing in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong Disneyland has accepted more than 19 million visitors since its opening in September 2005, according to the SAR's financial secretary Tsang Chun-wah, who also believes the expansion will help attract more tourists.

The planned new Disneyland in Shanghai has a smaller area than the one in Hong Kong, and Ernest said any expansion would depend on visitor numbers and demand.

"We think there's plenty of business there that supports both parks," Ernest said.

He noted that in the US, where the population is about a quarter the size of China's, there are already two major resorts — in Orlando, Florida, and in Anaheim, California.

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

Disneyland in Hong Kong will also be revamped, with the addition of three new theme areas 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 that the park was too small.

Source: Global Times/Agencies
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