HK Disney turns first profit since 2005 opening

By Kelvin Chan, AP

HONG KONG — Disneyland in the southern Chinese city of Hong Kong has turned a profit for the first time since it opened in 2005, theme park officials said Monday. The park earned 109 million Hong Kong dollars (US$14 million) in 2012 and its revenue rose 18 percent to HK$4.27 billion (US$550 million).

The park’s losses had steadily narrowed from HK$1.6 billion in 2008, the year it started disclosing financial figures, to HK$237 million in 2011.

Legislators and analysts have blamed the park’s poor performance on its small size. It’s the smallest of Burbank, California-based Disney’s parks worldwide. But the 311-acre (126 hectare) park, set on reclaimed land on Lantau island, will be a quarter bigger once an expansion is completed later this year.

Hong Kong Disneyland’s managing director, Andrew Kam, called the park’s swing into profit a “significant milestone.”

“The business has turned a corner,” said Kam. He said the park expansion was “the most critical success factor that contributed to our result this year.”

The US$465 million expansion adds three new attractions that Kam said allowed the park to draw more visitors. Two have already opened, including one based on the “Toy Story” series of movies and another with a Wild West theme called “Grizzly Gulch,” which Kam said has become the park’s most popular draw. The final phase, “Mystic Point,” which has a supernatural theme and is set in a rain forest, is scheduled to open by the middle of the year. The number of visitors in 2012 rose 13 percent to 6.73 million, with guests spending 6 percent more compared with the previous year. Visits by local residents, who accounted for a third of the total visitors, rose 21 percent, while those by mainland Chinese, who make up nearly half of the total, climbed 13 percent. The occupancy rate at the resort’s two hotels, which have 1,000 rooms in total, edged up by 1 percentage point to 92 percent. Kam said the park was looking at the feasibility of expanding its hotels. Hong Kong’s government has a 52-percent stake in the park. The Walt Disney Co. owns the remaining 48 percent.