The opening of The Ant-Man and The Wasp last March 31, 2019 reflects Hong Kong Disneyland Resort’s (HKDL) consistent push to stay above its competitors as an entertainment venue for all ages.
The theme park received 6.7 million visitors last year, an 8% increase over 2017 figures. It had a double-digit growth of international visitors for the second year in a row with Japan (+44%), South Korea (+34%), and the Philippines (+12%) as the top three visitors.
“To stay competitive, HKDL never stops growing and expanding. More new attractions are being developed,” said Edward Goh, Vice-President of Commercial Strategy, HKDL Resort.
“Moana was launched last year as the 1st phase, Ant-man and the Wasp this year, next year we are looking forward to the Castle transformation with 13 princesses — Snow White, Pocahontas, Sleeping Beauty, The Little Mermaid, Rapunzel (Tangled), Cinderella, Moana, Mulan, Proincess and the Frog, Beauty and the Beast, Brave, Aladdin, and one princess in Anna and one queen in Elsa. That castle has a lot of design elements as each princess has a flower motif that is reflected in the castle design unique to the character of the princess. Then the Frozen experience will open after two years, and after that, another major Marvel experience,” Goh added.
Hotels as key
When it comes to family-themed ambience, HKDL’s hotels have no rival. Presently, the resort has the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, The Disneyland Hollywood Hotel, and the newest, The Disney Explorer’s Lodge.
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel offers 400 guest rooms with Kingdom Club Suites, 3 restaurants, a 1,500 square-meter Conference Center that includes three ballrooms that can convert to 16 meeting venues. Disney Explorers Lodge is an exploration-themed hotel with 750 rooms. The hotel features 3 themed restaurants, an expansive lobby filled with cultural artifacts and art, a rain drop pool, and four gardens based on the culture of South America, Asia, Oceania and Africa. The 8-storey Disney’s Hollywood Hotel has 600 guest rooms, a piano-shaped pool, garden courtyard, game room and a buffet restaurant that is home to Chef Mickey.
“The hotels are key to us because it is part of the overall experience. A lot of times, if you stay in the hotel, you have an added level of convenience, especially with families who have kids. If you are staying on-site in one of our hotels, the convenience will allow you to have the rest and relaxation in 8-10 minutes compared to hotels in the city. Also, as part of the Disney experience, you have themed rooms like Frozen that will help immerse yourself to the story. They are doing very well. We also have a Kingdom floor which is our premium floor where bedtime stories are read to the children by the characters. There’s also characters meet and greets. We have overlays like Iron Man, Ant-Man that will also have cookies, cups that are themed around the characters,” Goh revealed.
HKDL continued a strong growth in MICE business. In 2017 the resort recorded a double-digit growth. It has hosted an average 600 events last year, over 5,000 room nights. The near proximity to the airport that is just a 20-minute journey is a big plus, according to Goh. The resort provides a wide range, flexible venues and diversified activities.
HKDL offers park buyout programs for corporate events and incentive groups. The buyout package allows guests private access to the entire park or just key areas of the park and an array of privileges including an al fresco cocktail event at the Disney Railroad Station.
As an example of a corporate Disney experience, Goh related the Taiwanese retail giant, PXMart, that bought out the entire Disney Explorer’s Lodge for their MICE event.
“A complete hotel buyout in 2018 for 1,500 people for a 5-day incentive package became a unique experience in the ballroom. We have an area called Theater in the Wild so they bought out that theater and we held the gala event there and then they followed up the next morning for a group breakfast at Tomorrowland. They had a character meeting and had a big 1,500 persons group photo set-up, unique back-drop, unique photo. It is not often that you experience Disneyland without the crowd. They were very very happy group at the end of it considering the hassle-free check-ins, luggage, and entertainment. We are looking forward into more groups like that,” he related.
As the ongoing park expansion delivers new attractions and entertainment almost every year, event planners are encouraged to leverage on the developments and create events that could only be staged at HKDL.
Improved transportation links with short-haul MICE markets — the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge and the express rail link connecting Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong, coupled with growing number of direct flights and low-cost carriers — will make HKDL more accessible to corporate groups in the region.
HKDL has a current workforce of 7,000 in the park and hotels, and it is a given that there is consistent hiring to support its planned developments.
“We are continuing employment especially in performance and talent which are unique. We have people who were trained here, made their careers and have moved on to other places,” Goh stated.