It’s been 5 months since Shanghai Disneyland opened and two recent news articles check in on the status of Disney’s newest park and its older Chinese sibling – Hong Kong Disneyland. Are the two parks both doing well, or is the new park siphoning off visitors from the old?
It turns out the relationship is something akin to Disneyland and Walt Disney World back in the 80s. People would choose their destination based on either proximity or how much time they had to spend at the parks. The perception is Hong Kong Disneyland is small and intimate and can be absorbed in a day, where Shanghai Disneyland is larger and might require multiple days, meaning higher cost. So your destination might depend on how much time and money you have to spend.
According to this article, interest in Hong Kong Disneyland has generally stayed strong after Shanghai Disneyland opened. The park did suffer with low attendance in 2015, but that was prior to Shanghai opening. Hong Kong Disneyland just raised ticket prices for the 4th year in a row, while offering locals discounts. Usually a sign they want to encourage more local visitors to turn around attendance trends.
Guests are also looking for something that sets Hong Kong Disneyland apart from other Disney theme parks, makes it unique. Disneyland did announce a $1.4B expansion project for Hong Kong Disneyland. As long as Hong Kong Disneyland is seen as continually improving itself, such as with the Iron Man experience that will open shortly, it will do ok.
Meanwhile, there are signs that the buzz about Shanghai Disneyland is suffering due to visitor complains about high prices for food and poor experiences. According to this story, the park is failing to attract visitors and waits are low for all but the most popular attractions. Word of expensive meal costs have driven many visitors to pack a picnic lunch instead of paying to eat in the park. Even so Shanghai Disneyland has welcome 4 million guests and is on track to near the 10 million guest mark in its first year. Disney has said the park is ahead of expectations so far.
Both Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disney are partnerships between The Walt Disney Company and the local governments, with the local governments being the majority shareholder. This works well for Disney as there is considerable interest from officials to help make things work out in the end, which I’m sure they will for Shanghai Disneyland once they get the bugs in the system worked out.
Have you visited both Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland? Do you want to?
I feel certain that Shanghai Disneyland’s opening affected visits to Hong Kong Disneyland, even before Shanghai opened. People who were planning trips in 2015 might easily have decided to put off their trip until Shanghai opened, just so they could go see the new park. Given the tremendous number of people who live within a 3-hour trip of each park, though, I don’t see these parks as really siphoning off business from each other. There are more than enough “locals” to keep both parks busy.
If anything, the parks in Tokyo and the U.S. probably siphon off more business from Hong Kong — there’s just so much more to do at the two-park resorts. Hong Kong has been slow to grow, but it looks like Disney is kicking that into high gear. With the number of worldwide parks expanding, Disney needs to start doing things to really differentiate each park from the others, and it looks like Hong Kong and Shanghai will both be moving in that direction.
(As an expat in Hong Kong) the locals don’t go to HKDL. They fear the behavior of certain Asian tourists as well as the fact the it’s so small and there are so little rides. The park food is horrible especially for such a foodie city. So HKDL relies on tourists from Southeast Asia.
Disney diehards like me find that it doesn’t have the same Disney spirit and customer service that the US counterparts have. And it’s missing the key rides we grew up with. Hopefully the new expansion may turn it into a whole day park. But It’ll never rival TDL or now SDL.
Also factor in the differences in getting into Hong Kong versus mainland China – that may factor your choice. When I lived in the part of the world I could come and go into Hong Kong with ease – mainland China was an expensive and difficult Visa to get.