Disney to Build Larger Hong Kong Kingdom

Walt Disney Co. will turn to The Avengers and Frozen to revive its theme park – Hong Kong Disneyland.

On Tuesday, the U.S. company unveiled its plans for an expansion worth $1.4 billion for the park, which currently is its smallest theme park.

New attractions will open almost every year starting in 2018 and through 2023, including areas with Marvel Comics themes, Frozen, a new venue for entertainment and a larger castle.

Overall attractions at the park will increase from 110 to over 130 once the complete upgrade has been finished.

Disney is putting up $657 million for this expansion plan, while the government of Hong Kong, which has a stake of 53% in the park, is contributing $747 million in an injection of cash equity.

The latest plan of expansion also involves closing some rides that are now in operation, with 17% of park space already in existence being used for the new expansion plans.

The classic ride Autopia was closed earlier in 2016, while Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters is going to get a reimage.

The park has not been as successful of late, as Disney and the Hong Kong government had hoped for. The park has suffered from dropping attendance that has caused weak financial results.

The first loss at the theme park since 2011 was posted during fiscal year 2015, as an economic slowdown in China hurt the tourism market in Hong Kong.

For its October 2015 ending fiscal year, park attendance was 6.8 million people down from the prior year of 7.5 million. The company did say that some improvement has been seen since the end of summer.

For the nine-month period to September, visitors to the park from China’s mainland, which represents about 75% of the total tourists in Hong Kong, dropped by 8.7% from the same period last year to just over 31.7 million.

For that same period, visitors overall to Hong Kong were down 6.1% to just over 41.7 million.

Hong Kong Disneyland is also facing another challenge. A new rival in China – Shanghai Disneyland, which is much bigger than Hong Kong Disneyland, opened this past June.

Disney denies that the new park in Shanghai has caused a negative effect to his park in Hong Kong.

The planned expansion in Hong Kong will need to be approved by both the board of directors at Disney and the Legislature in Hong Kong.