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Tuesday, 16 May 2023

Hong Kong Disneyland Reports Record-High Local Attendance and Annual Pass Membership

(16/05/23)  Hong Kong Disneyland Resort's (HKDL) business results for fiscal year 2022 (FY22) reached historic highs for another consecutive year, with both the resort’s local attendance and Magic Access (annual pass) membership increasing by 22% year-on-year, despite continued negative challenges caused by the COVID19 pandemic on tourism and operating conditions.

FY22 represented the third consecutive fiscal year of major business and operational disruption for HKDL as a result of the pandemic. As required by relevant regulatory measures, the resort experienced a compulsory closure of its theme park for nearly three and a half months, which was longer compared with the year before, as well as capacity limits, social distancing requirements and other anti-pandemic measures. In FY22, HKDL’s theme park only operated for about six months in total due to both mandatory closure and five-day operation weeks.

Mickey Mouse surfing at Hong Kong Disneyland. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.
Mickey Mouse surfing at Hong Kong Disneyland. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com

The fifth wave of the pandemic in Hong Kong led to continued travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, keeping tourist arrivals essentially at a standstill. The resort also faced severe headwinds from the overall market environment, with a reversed economic growth trajectory and a shrinking local workforce.

Despite these challenges in FY22, HKDL posted a 22% increase in total attendance to 3.4 million fuelled by only local Hong Kong residents. Revenue for the year grew by 31% to HK$2.2 billion. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) improved by 11%, to negative HK$861 million. Net loss narrowed to HK$2.1 billion, a 12% improvement compared to the previous year.

At the resort hotels, overall occupancy edged up three percentage points to 24%, reflecting, amongst others, the absence of tourist arrivals as well as the temporary closure of the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel for planned renovation. However, the hotel utilisation for the year was 78%. Efforts to enhance guest offerings and products drove improvements in per capita guest spending and per room guest spending by 11% and 7%, respectively.

In addition to deferring royalty payments for FY22, The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) has upsized its revolver facility for HKDL from HK$2.1 billion to HK$2.7 billion since November 2022, demonstrating its support of the resort.

“Thanks to the staunch support of our shareholders, cast members (staff) and the people of Hong Kong, strong brand appeal, exciting guest offerings and effective business strategies, we have seen improvements across the board despite headwinds from the prolonged pandemic”, said Michael Moriarty, managing director at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. “The reimagined Castle of Magical Dreams [pictured below] and nighttime spectacular ‘Momentous’ have been game changers. Additionally, the world’s first and biggest Frozen themed land, which will be launched later this year, will be a defining addition to our world-class attractions that help us win over locals and tourists alike.”

Among the highlights scheduled for H2 2023 is the reopening of the Disney’s Hollywood Hotel, which is set to welcome guests back with a new look of the hotel lobby and two restaurants starting in mid-July.

Another eagerly awaited addition is the Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse statue – “Dream Makers”, which will be unveiled in October, while in November, the highly anticipated World of Frozen will make its debut, transporting guests to the magical world of Elsa, Anna, and Olaf.

The theme park will also review market conditions and, where appropriate, adjust its operation to open six or seven days a week from mid-June onwards to meet guests demand, giving them even more opportunities to experience the magic of the happiest place on earth.

With a “locals-only” market landscape due to the pandemic in the past few years, HKDL optimized its performance by introducing an array of new offerings with creative storytelling, driving business and product innovation and launching targeted sales and marketing communications.

Making a Difference

HKDL helped the local community through Disney VoluntEARS in the following three major areas: providing a free online storytelling video series; donating food and essentials to underserved families; and demonstrating appreciation to medical staff and other frontline workers.

Over the past 17 years, HKDL has dedicated around 114,000 volunteer hours to spreading magic beyond the resort to the local community. The resort also collaborated with the Foodlink Foundation to donate nearly 10 tonnes of food.

As part of its initiatives to support the disabled community, HKDL collaborated with different non-profit organizations to:

- Offer the Barrier-Free Ambassadors Training Programme so employees can further understand their needs;

- Relaunch a four-month apprenticeship programme “Disney Side by Side Journey” to provide vocational training and job opportunities; and

- Provide additional inclusive offerings and products, such as introducing theatrical interpretation with sign language with body movements to the Halloween show “Let’s Get Wicked” and “Mickey and the Wondrous Book”.

HKDL is committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation of diverse storytellers and innovators. It held the Disney Imaginations Hong Kong 2022 Design Competition which saw the participation of more than 300 local tertiary students. Members of the champion team were given internship opportunity at the resort for eight weeks.

Collaborating with The Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs Association of Hong Kong, the resort funded the Sports Legacy Scheme to provide tailor-made professional sports training for around 200 children and young people. A new career and life development programme, “Youth Dare to Dream”, was also launched, covering ethnic minorities and others.

Additionally, HKDL prioritized the wellbeing of its cast members and improved its package of staff benefits. This included increasing parental leave entitlement and expanding child bonding leave benefits to all staff. Nearly 190,000 hours of professional and technical training, workshops on diversity, equity and inclusion, and an Emerging Leaders programme were also provided to develop a highly skilled, quality labour force.

On average, HKDL employed around 4,700 full-time and over 1,400 part-time staff during FY22, continuing to be one of Hong Kong’s largest employers in the tourism and family entertainment industry.

In the past 17 years of operations combined, the resort brought approximately HK$116.1 billion of value-added to Hong Kong’s economy, equivalent to 0.27% of Hong Kong’s GDP, and cumulatively created 277,200 jobs (in terms of man-years), benefiting Hong Kong’s overall economy.

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