Never been to Hong Kong? You might want to go there soon. Walt Disney Company just announced a $1.4 billion expansion project set for Hong Kong Disneyland. This news coming after the opening of Shanghai Disney Resort earlier in the year.
There are many sought after attractions at the expanded park, including a Frozen-themed land featuring characters and plot pieces from the 2014 movie, a Moana's Village Festival in Adventureland based on the upcoming film Moana, and an area specifically for Marvel-themed stuff. Yep, FINALLY the Marvel world will have its own dedicated region in a Disney park.
Construction on the park won't begin tomorrow, it's slated for 2018 and will likely last 5 years. Firstly, Disney has to get their plans approved by the Hong Kong government which is ripe with red tape.
The other elephant in the room is the fact that Hong Kong Disneyland has been losing money of late. This past year they lost around $20 million, despite having spent over $600 million in numerous additions over the past few years.
On the bright side, the park's attendance has increased in 2016 after a rough 2014-2015 transition. During this period it underwent a -9.3% loss. It's also up against stiff competition from other theme parks in the region. Universal Studios Japan had a great year, thanks in part to the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter which recorded around 18% higher profits from previous years. Then you have China, which of course has the stunning new Shanghai Disneyland, as well as Chimelong Ocean Kingdom, Songcheng Lijiang, and several others.
Worldwide, Walt Disney attractions have seen the lowest surge in attendance over recent years. Much higher influxes have been recorded at Six Flags (+11.4%), Songcheng Worldwide (+53.4%), Fantawild (+77.4%), and Universal Parks and Resorts (+11.8%).
Hong Kong Disneyland's general manager, Andrew Kam, was effectively forced out in March, paving the way for a restructuring effort both figuratively and literally. It's like when the New York Yankees purged their older players this season in favor of youth. Sometimes it just needs to be done.
The city of Hong Kong is increasingly insecure due to the rise of Shanghai as a financial capital, and the ascension of Shanghai Disney isn't helping to quell the nerves. Here's a suggestion, how about Hong Kong Disney slashes their prices? At least for the short term. Disney is grotesquely expensive as it is, it might be worth taking a temporary hit in the hope of cultivating long term benefits. Maybe it's a good thing I don't run Disney.