Hong Kong Disneyland expansion ready by 2013

Hong Kong Disneyland, which has been struggling to attract visitors since opening in 2005, said Thursday it would complete the first phase of its expansion by 2013, a year early.

The loss-making park has been seeking to increase its popularity and faces fresh concerns over its future with Shanghai Disneyland reportedly set to start construction on Friday.

The HK$3.63 billion ($467 million) expansion, which will see the addition of three attractions, will now be completed by 2013, the theme park said in a statement received by AFP Thursday.

It said Toy Story Land, based on the popular animated film, would open later this year while two other attractions would open in 2012 and 2013.

The Hong Kong Economic Times reported Thursday that the company had also started preliminary discussions with the government on the next round of expansion, which could start in 2013.

However a park spokesman dismissed the report when contacted by AFP.

Since it opened in 2005, Hong Kong Disneyland, which is majority owned by the Hong Kong government, has been desperate to boost the number and quality of its attractions as it struggles to attract visitors.

The venue is investing HK$6.2 billion to build 30 new attractions over the next five years.

Early completion of the first phase of expansion will give it more time to prepare for competition from the long-awaited Shanghai Disneyland, which will cost $3.7 billion and cover a site of 963 acres (390 hectares).

The whole Hong Kong Disneyland resort site, including two hotels, covers 310 acres.

Mainland China is a major source of visitors for the Hong Kong park, last year accounting for 2.2 million visitors, or 42 percent of the total, according to the latest park figures.

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