Hong Kong's Disneyland to be expanded with aim to get out of red

Hong Kong's struggling Disneyland theme park, the smallest Disney park in the world, is to be expanded in an effort to lure more visitors, a news report said Wednesday.

Disney plans to fund the expansion of the loss-making 120-hectare theme park after persistent criticism that it is short on attractions and does not have enough rides to occupy a full day, dpa reported.

Hong Kong government officials have already travelled to Los Angeles to see expansion models drawn up by the Walt Disney Co, the Hong Kong Standard newspaper said in a report that cited local Disney chief Andrew Kam Min-ho and Hong Kong officials.

The building of the controversial park, which opened in September 2005, was funded largely by Hong Kong taxpayers in a joint venture between the government of the former British colony and Disney.

The expansion, however, is to be funded by Disney, which has also loaned the joint venture 420 million US dollars to repay commercial loans from 26 banks, the Standard reported.

The park, which has refused to release official figures, was said by insiders to have attracted around 4.5 million visitors from October 2007 to September this year against a pre-opening target of 6.22 million visitors.

It reportedly fell around 500,000 visitors short of its 5.7-million first-year target and then saw numbers plunge by more than 1 million in its second year of operations.

Disneyland is launching a series of initiatives, including cut-price tickets for poor families and special deals for tour groups from mainland China, to try to boost attendances.

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