Hong Kong Disneyland… more bad news reports

Shaun Rein of the China Market Research Group at SeekingAlpha takes a look at Disney’s theme park presence in Hong Kong and reveals the results from his guest suvey. Disney should be concerned.

Respondents said that the park was "Too small without enough rides," and that "It was not catered properly to Chinese crowds." Many respondents said that they had heard "such bad things about Hong Disney" that they would "cancel planned visits" because of the Spring Festival ticket disaster this year, where Disney was unprepared for the large number of visitors from mainland China. They were also put off from protests in Disney by cast members unhappy with working conditions.

Not good. Word of Mouth marketing works both ways. I don’t think this is the good kind.

In other Hong Kong Disneyland news, it’s not good either, there have been water quality problems at the UFO Land water playground. Disneyland, USA had similar problems with their Tomorrowland fountain. It’s now gone to Yesterland (although mostly for maintenance reasons).

I really want Hong Kong Disneyland to succeed, and I’m sure Disney knows they’ve got to get some fixes in over there (and fast), but it seems odd that the bad news keeps coming out. If they’re making any changes, It doesn’t look like they’re helping.

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5 thoughts on “Hong Kong Disneyland… more bad news reports

  1. whit

    All of the complaining reminds me of another Disney park closer to home- Disney’s California Adventure. They’ve been able to bring it along (last few trips the place was packed), and I’m sure they will do the same in Hong Kong. It’s all tweaking and spending, something Iger seems more likely to approve than ol’ what’s his face.

  2. Josh

    Also reminds me of all the bad press that Disneyland Paris received when it opened. In fact, if I remember correctly, there was a lot speculation that they were going to close that park. Seems like Disney has a way of figuring it out pretty quickly and making the necessary changes.

  3. John Frost

    I don’t know if I’d use Disneyland Paris as an example in this case. The problem there was over building the hotels, a few harsh winters early on, and some bad debt structuring. In fact, I’d say Disney learnt the wrong lesson from DLP. They’ve been so scared of repeating that mistake that for the next parks they cut the number of attractions in half, have left out whole lands (HKDL and DAK), and generally used more lightly themed off the shelf attractions to save money. Tokyo Disneyland went the other way with DisneySea and, while the margins of profitability aren’t as supurb as they expected, the numbers are much better than California Adventure, Disney Studios Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland. Even Disney’s Animal Kingdom has needed a ‘Wow’ attraction to up the daily numbers (and boy are they up).

    There is a closer parallel between Disneyland, USA and Disneyland Paris’ second gates. Both were built on the cheap, sucked the soul and budget out of the other park in the resort, and are only just now beginning to pull in decent numbers of visitors after some heavy expenditures on new attractions and retheming.

  4. Josh

    John,
    Thanks for the clarification on Disneyland Paris. So it seems that your saying that Disneyland Hong Kong is experiencing some issues because it was built on the cheap and so they just didn’t have the imagineering resources to make it special?

  5. John Frost

    I don’t think it has much to do with ‘imagineering resources’. I think it was a business decision by the suits to do it on a smaller budget than was actually needed to open a park that could handle 20K+ guests a day without 2-3 hour queues for attractions and dining, very little shade, and some staffing and guest behavior issues (although this might be attributed cultural differences (ie, mainlanders having little if any exposure to the wider Disney brands and no prior knowledge of what to expect at a Disney branded themepark)). The presence of these challenges have hurt the park’s image from day one. It’s much easier to impress customers with quality from day one, rather than having to shoehorn it in later in desparation when the numbers don’t work (see Disney Studios Paris and California Adventure).

    From everything I’ve seen it is a beautiful park with lots of potential, great stories, and details put in there by the imagineers. Growth was built into the plan from day one, but you don’t build a billion dollar project with the plans to throw it away in a few years if the customers don’t like it. You build it so the customers like it and then you have a success.

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