Disney Says Hong Kong Park Attendance Down

Attendance at Hong Kong Disneyland has fallen below expectations, but the park's finances are solid, The Walt Disney Co. says.

The park, Disney's latest, has been hit by a slew of bad publicity and reports of poor attendance since its opening last September. Park officials recently offered free entry to more than 40,000 taxi drivers to promote the theme park.

In a statement late Wednesday, Hong Kong Disneyland said the park was in good financial shape.

"Hong Kong Disneyland is on a very firm financial footing. We are in our first year of business and are showing a positive cash flow and great liquidity," it said.

The statement called the park "a solid asset that is going to be a real lynchpin for both Hong Kong and The Walt Disney Co. for decades to come," adding that more than 80 percent of guests surveyed rated their experience at the park as positive.

The statement said Hong Kong Disneyland expects a busy summer season, with three new attractions opening by early July. The attractions are the Autopia car ride, UFO Zone and Stitch Encounter, inspired by the Disney character Stitch from Lilo & Stitch.

Announcing its earnings earlier this week, Disney said crowd figures at Hong Kong Disneyland have been lower than expected, but that it still expects to hit a one-year goal of 5.6 million visitors.

Disney provided no details about the number of visitors or revenue from its Hong Kong park.

"We clearly have a lot to learn about the market," Disney Chief Executive Robert Iger said Tuesday. "Overall, I don't think our marketing efforts have been as effective as they could be. But we're going to figure this out."

Hong Kong Disneyland came under attack last year from environmentalists for planning to serve shark's fin soup _ a plan it later abandoned. Critics also accuse the park of exceeding its powers by asking health officers investigating suspected food poisoning at the park to remove parts of their uniform.

In February, park officials sparked backlash by turning away guests, who had tickets, but were not allowed to enter because the park reached full capacity.

Hong Kong Disneyland is a joint venture between Disney and the Hong Kong government, which holds a 57 percent stake and shouldered most of the construction cost.


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