HK Disney Expansion Announced

Walt Disney Co. has agreed to pay $452 million to add new attractions at its Hong Kong theme park, raising its stake and expanding the park by 23 percent.

The expansion is hoped to improve attendance, which has been disappointing at HK Disney since its 2005 opening.

Disney was willing to fully finance the expansion but the Hong Kong government, a majority owner of the project, wanted to retain its controlling stake even though it was reluctant to invest new funds into the park, according to the Wall Street Journal.

To attract new visitors from mainland China, the expansion will feature three new park areas – “Toy Story Land,” “Mystic Point” and “Grizzly Trail.” As many Chinese are unfamiliar with Disney characters, the attractions aim to present universal themes.

As part of the deal announced June 30, the government will convert existing loans to the park into equity but won’t invest any new money. Its stake will fall from 57 percent to 52 percent.

The HK government has taken a lot of flak for investing in the theme park, especially after attendance dropped 23 percent in its second year. Critics have complained that the park is too small and features too few attractions. Hong Kong has the smallest Disneyland in the world. Other Disneylands are in the U.S., France and Japan.