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Disney reviews strategy after bleak Golden Week,HK Standard News, 2006-5-18


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  • Disney reviews strategy after bleak Golden Week,HK Standard News, 2006-5-18

    Hong Kong Disneyland has admitted that visitor numbers were lower than it expected during the May Golden Week, and said it will introduce new measures to boost figures during the summer.

    Wendy LeungandJustin Mitchell

    Thursday, May 18, 2006

    Hong Kong Disneyland has admitted that visitor numbers were lower than it expected during the May Golden Week, and said it will introduce new measures to boost figures during the summer.
    While Disney's corporate policy prohibits it from releasing attendance figures, managing director Bill Ernest admitted the numbers were behind initial predictions, though he is confident of hitting a first-year target of 5.6 million visitors.
    Ernest said the company has stepped up its marketing campaign in the mainland and Taiwan.
    Disney also brought thousands of its travel trade partners from Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong to the Lantau theme park and its two hotels.
    Ernest said he expects the park to be busy during the summer, and that operating hours will be extended. The fireworks show would begin an hour later at 9pm.
    Responding to criticism that the park is too small and lacks the popular attractions of its counterparts in the United States, Tokyo and Paris, Ernest revealed Hong Kong Disneyland is planning to build an attraction, to be called Small World, in Fantasyland within two years.
    "If the business grows, we will grow accordingly. We will grow the park from the annual visitor numbers from 5.6 million to 10 million," Ernest said.
    "We will also bring in three attractions, Autopia, Stitch and UFO Cool Zone this summer."
    Building a loyal repeat-customer base with monthly events and themes is also planned, he said.
    Ernest revealed that the park is busy on a Halloween surprise for October.
    "It has been a challenge bringing Asian culture and Disney together," he said. "But if we make a mistake we correct it very, very quickly and always have done."
    Ernest was candid about the missteps and mistakes the park has made and vowed to correct them.
    Asked for an example, he said Hong Kong Disneyland "totally underestimated the amount of time guests spend in restaurants here" and said the park "added more tables and chairs quickly" to reduce the wait. The brand is still strong, said Ernest. "We have sold over nine million pieces of merchandise since we opened," he noted.
    Bad press has dogged the theme park since before it opened. It ranged from the park's initial reluctance to cut shark's fin soup from its menus, Lantau residents' complaints over the nightly pyrotechnic displays and disgruntled employees to a ticket fiasco during the mainland's weeklong Lunar New Year holiday and lower than expected Golden Week attendance.
    There were management shakeups, including the resignation of Ernest's former boss Don Robinson, and the departure of three marketing and sales executives.While admitting to "teething problems and challenges" and that the company "has not been accessible," Ernest was upbeat about the park's future.
    "We have to be able to tell our story in a non-arrogant way," he said.
    "Telling the story" is a Disney corporate mantra - as Ernest detailed his transition from opening hotels for Marriott to his first Disney duties as general manager of Disney's Hilton Head Island resort, he talked of the steep learning curve he underwent.
    "You storyboard it, theme the story, build the colors, build the story, tell the story and then you have the product," he said.
    "But initially I really didn't understand all the creative processes that were involved."
    Now his challenge involves not only continuing to tell the story to Hong Kong and the Legislative Council, but to his own employees and, perhaps most importantly, the mainland.
    Though Disney first entered the mainland in the late 1930s when Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was shown in cinemas, its cartoons were later banned by Mao Zedong.
    Chinese children now know about Donald and Mickey and Nemo and their pals, in part from pirated DVDs, but their knowledge of other characters is sketchy at best.
    "I think a big part of my challenge today is the mainland guests, in bringing them the message of the story tone and making sure we are resonating in the market well," Ernest said.
    "I spent a lot of time talking with the travel trade groups there recently.
    "They said, `your brand is strong, but the people still don't understand what it is. The more education you can do the better.' "That's a big part of my job today."

    Source : HK Standard News

  • #2
    Re: Disney reviews strategy after bleak Golden Week,HK Standard News, 2006-5-18

    Lantau residents' complaints over the nightly pyrotechnic displays
    You can't win if you are Disney. Anywhere but Florida, shoot fireworks, get complaints. Or be Paris and not shoot them, and get complaints.


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