The Hong Kong Government has failed to secure a better deal with Disney for a six-year facelift of Hong Kong Disneyland. As a result, local tax payers must foot a HK$5.45 billion (US$700m) bill towards expansion of the theme park resort.
The Legislative Council’s (Legco) finance committee agreed by 30 to 24 votes on May 2 to finance half the facelift. This came after Disney made what is described as a “take it or leave it” offer to the Hong Kong Government, the resort’s largest shareholder. Lawmakers had been demanding a fairer deal, complaining that the city’s contribution should be subject to better shareholding, financing and management arrangements with Disney.
“We have gone through a lot of analysis,” reported commerce minister Greg So Kam-leung. “We’ve also pushed very hard in the negotiation. We believe that this package is really the best package that we can achieve.”
Frozen and Marvel zones planned for Hong Kong Disneyland
The HK$10.9 billion expansion project is due to start in 2019. It will include new themed zones based on IPs including Frozen and various Marvel superheroes. A transformation of the Hong Kong park’s rather small Sleeping Beauty Castle is also planned.
According to the South China Morning Post, the partnership between Disney and the government has long been seen as unequal. The entertainment giant receives millions of dollars in royalties and management fees even as the park keeps losing money.
“We are very disappointed,” reported Democratic Party chairman Wu Chi-wai. “I am sure it won’t be the last time that Disneyland asks for money from Legco.”
Giving Shanghai Disney Resort a run for its money
Tourism sector lawmaker Yiu Si-wing welcomed the funding boost, but urged the government to proceed with caution. Expansion of the resort was necessary, he argued, in order that Hong Kong Disneyland offered unique attractions compared to its larger counterpart in Shanghai.