Hong Kong Disney Turnout on Track

From Times Wire Services

Walt Disney Co. on Wednesday said Hong Kong Disneyland was on track to meet its long-term attendance goals, saying Chinese news reports of a slower-than-expected start for the resort were overblown.

Disney said the Hong Kong resort had drawn more than 1 million visitors since opening Sept. 12.

The attendance numbers are the first that the Burbank-based company has provided for the Hong Kong resort.

The park, which was jointly developed with the Hong Kong government, had been expected to draw 5.6 million visitors in its first year, a third of them coming from mainland China.

The numbers signal that Hong Kong Disneyland may help the company expand in Asia. Chief Executive Robert Iger has said Disney may open another park in Shanghai after 2010.

"Hong Kong Disneyland has become a successful launching pad for Disney," said Laura Martin, an analyst with Soleil-Media Metrics. "Success at Hong Kong Disneyland accelerates Disney putting more assets in Asia."

Disney criticized Chinese news reports as having unfairly characterized the performance of the park since the company launched the resort, its second Asia destination after Japan.

"When we build a resort, we do so with the expectation that it's a long-term asset lasting well beyond 50 years," Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Jay Rasulo said in a statement.

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