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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Thursday, October 17, 2002

Disney starts Hong Kong park in January

By Jasmine Yap
Bloomberg News Service

HONG KONG — Walt Disney Co., the second-biggest U.S. media company, said it will begin construction in January on its $2.9 billion Hong Kong Disneyland theme park.

An artist's rendering of Space Mountain in Tomorrowland of Hong Kong's Disneyland. The park, scheduled to open as early as 2005, will create about 18,000 jobs, Walt Disney Co. said.

Bloomberg News Service

The park, scheduled to open as early as 2005, will create about 18,000 new jobs and draw as many as 5.6 million visitors in its first year, Disney said. It may also have to contend with a similar park Chinese media say Disney is discussing with the government of Shanghai, just three hours flight from Hong Kong.

"There is a possibility of another theme park in the future, but there's no definite decision on China whatsoever," spokeswoman Marie Garvey said.

A competing Disney attraction would be bad news for the Hong Kong government, which pledged $2.9 billion to lure Disney. The city needs to boost tourism to counter a drop in domestic spending that cut retail sales for 12 of the past 13 months and has sent consumer prices lower for 46 consecutive months.

The city, which attracted a record 1.5 million visitors in August, forecast 15.4 million visitors this year, an increase of 12 percent from last year.

The Disneyland venue is being built by Hong Kong International Theme Parks Ltd., which is 57 percent-owned by the city's government and 43 percent-owned by Disney. The government is investing $417 million in equity in the project, arranging a $590 million loan and spending $1.7 billion on land, roads and other infrastructure to link it to the city.

That commitment helped Hong Kong beat Shanghai in a 1999 bid to build the first Asian Disney park outside Japan.

The 310-acre site near the airport and at Penny's Bay on Lantau island will have two hotels, and a retail, dining and entertainment complex when it opens in 2005.

By the time the first phase of the park is finished in 15 years, the theme park is expected to pull 10 million visitors annually to its rides, 2,100 hotel rooms and 92,400 square feet of retail, dining and entertainment outlets.