Hong Kong Disneyland’s free ticket lucky draw is aiming to ramp up declining visitor numbers after two consecutive years of loss making.

More than 900,000 people registered for the lucky draw in a week. 50,000 tickets are up for grabs – around one ticket for every 18 applicants.

The draw is open to all Hong Kong residents.  It was launched last Tuesday and will close on Thursday.

The hope is that the draw will help the 12 year old theme park on Lantau Island rekindle its magic touch amidst a downturn in tourism.  Two years of loss making are believed to be the reason behind the decline in visitor numbers from mainland China.

The government insisted Disneyland hold the lucky draw. It was a condition of their funding half of an expansion approved by lawmakers in May.  The expansion will cost HK$10.9 billion (US$1.4 billion).

“The enthusiastic response proves Disneyland is still attractive to Hong Kong people,” says Yiu Si-wing, a lawmaker for the tourism sector.

Yiu said the draw would be a win-win situation for local residents and Disneyland alike.  Winners of free tickets were likely to bring friends and family with them.  They were also likely to buy souvenirs, all generating more profit for the park.

“Usually one winner of a free ticket will bring at least 1.5 people along with them, so 50,000 free tickets can generate 70,000 additional visitors,” says Yiu.

Yiu believes that the fact that so many people entered the lucky draw suggests Disneyland tickets are just too expensive for many people.  Standard adult tickets cost HK$589 (US$75.9) with a child’s ticket costing HK$419. Yiu added that Disneyland should give back to society through more free ticket promotions.

Susanna Muk, a publicity manager at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort says this is the first time tickets have been given away to the general public.  Disneyland usually donates an average of 100,000 tickets a year, targeting underprivileged groups through local non-profit organisations. She stated that this new draw will not affect the company’s annual charity giveaway.

The expansion plan of the park will stretch over six years.  A series of new events will be added next year, including a new show, Moana: A Homecoming Celebration.

It is estimated that the expansion is likely to boost annual visitor numbers by 52 per cent to 9.3 million by 2025.

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