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Disneyland may cap number of holiday visitors
(China Daily HK Edition)
Updated: 2005-09-06 09:22

Hong Kong Disneyland is considering capping the number of visitors during holidays after the trial opening on Sunday saw chaos and long waits for rides and meals, Financial Secretary Henry Tang said yesterday.

Hong Kong Disneyland commenced a month of "Rehearsal Days" on August 16, 2005, leading up to the theme park's grand opening on September 12. Rehearsal Days are a Disney tradition at its parks and resorts around the world and present an opportunity for Cast Members (Disney parlance for employees) to hone their roles to create the most magical guest experiences when the Vacation Kingdom officially opens. Specially invited guests enjoy the park during Rehearsal Days. [Reuters]

Tang admitted that the more than 29,000 visitors to the theme park had suffered when it was filled to its daily capacity of 30,000 during the charity trial run at the weekend, ahead of its grand opening next Monday.

"We are studying flexible ways to control the number of visitors entering Disneyland during busy holidays," said Tang.

"We deeply realize that visitors were upset about having to wait for such a long time. We are reviewing the arrangements and studying the possibility of limiting the number of visitors entering Disneyland at peak holidays when the theme park reaches its capacity. We should prevent the theme park from being swamped by people."

Tang was speaking after a meeting with Disneyland's management to improve crowd management and facilities in the park.

Preparing for holiday visits

The theme park management is considering not allowing the park to be filled to capacity, particularly during the coming Mid-Autumn Festival and National Day Golden Week holidays.

Also, the government has discussed with Disneyland the possibility of extending the operation hours during busy holidays and adding more scope to its food stalls, said Tang, who chairs a government steering committee to oversee the operations of the theme park.

During the meeting, the government discussed with the Disneyland management the theme park capacity, entry arrangements, queue management, food and beverage facilities, seating area, and car parking arrangements.

After a series of rehearsals conducted over the past three weeks, Tang said the committee had found that Hong Kong visitors preferred staying in the park for long hours, reaching about 9.5 on average.

Tang said the rehearsals had served their purpose for Disneyland to learn lessons such as the arrival, behavioural and consumption patterns of visitors and measures will be taken to fine-tune its operation.

He said Disneyland has continuously improved facilities and so far it has increased 600 seats at food stalls and added 20 more food and drink carts throughout the park.

Hong Kong's Disneyland Group Managing Director, Don Robinson, pledged to learn from Sunday's lesson to improve overall performance.

Robinson said the (bad) weather together with the substantial number of visitors flocking to the park had caused the chaos.

"The lines are longer than we would really want," he said, vowing to solve this problem. "We can add more things and extend the operating hours."

Selina Chow, chairman of Hong Kong Tourism Board, yesterday eased worries that there would be a repetition of Sunday's chaos on the theme park's official opening day.

Chow said it was within expectation that there would be flaws in various kinds of arrangements and facilities during the park's initial opening period.

She urged the public and the media not to hastily evaluate the park's performance negatively.

On Sunday, Disneyland faced its biggest challenge as more than 29,000 locals - the largest crowd so far - visited the theme park on Charity Day. The aim was to raise funds for the Community Chest. The overwhelming numbers forced visitors to wait for hours to play the games and buy food.

In related developments, the Immigration Department was set to introduce comprehensive arrangements to cope with the anticipated substantial number of mainlanders crossing the border to visit Disneyland during its initial opening period.

The department's assistant director, Simon Peh, said yesterday that it has already redeployed 187 immigration officers to reinforce air, land and sea control points.

The department, Police, Customs and Excise and the Transport departments, the KCRC and the Shenzhen authorities will establish a joint command centre at Lo Wu control point.

The department will closely liaise with Shenzhen authorities to monitor the crowd control situation at the control points.

Peh said the department does not expect that there would be a substantial increase in mainland tourists crossing the border to flock to Disneyland on Monday as the park has reduced the number of tickets sold to some 15,000 on the day.

On the other hand, Peh anticipated a sudden surge in human traffic and hence pressure at the border checkpoints during Mid-Autumn Festival and the National Day holidays.

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