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Hong Kong Disneyland records another year without profit while spotlighting some of its altruistic community initiatives

Hong Kong Disneyland records another year without profit while spotlighting some of its altruistic community initiatives
March 22, 2022

Operating in adverse conditions, amid a series of pandemic-related closures and a near-complete absence of tourists, Hong Kong Disneyland has reported a loss of US$307 million (HK$2.4 billion) - its seventh consecutive year without profit. Alongside reporting on its financials, HKDL has also spotlighted some of its altruistic community initiatives.

The financial loss of US$307 million represented a 12% improvement compared to the prior year. After adjusting for the available capacity, the resort’s hotel utilisation rate was 77% in FY21, compared with 34% in the prior year.

The resort is 52% owned by the Hong Kong government, with the rest held by the US-based Walt Disney Company via a joint venture called Hong Kong International Theme Parks.

The attraction has only turned a profit in three years since opening in 2005.

The theme park advised it was unable to operate for about 40% of the last financial year due to mandatory closures from the government’s Covid-19-related social-distancing policies. Additionally, the resort’s hotels continued to run at an adjusted operating level.

Alongside this financial loss, the theme park is reporting a growth in local attendance by 117% year-on-year, while the Magic Access (annual pass) membership base expanded by 55% year-on-year, both at record highs. Local young adult attendance also hit a record high and the number of student Magic Access membership jumped 132% from FY20.

The theme park’s total attendance rebounded 64% to 2.8 million year-on-year, driven mainly by Hong Kong residents.

While Michael Moriarty, managing director at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort advised “HKDL made deliberate efforts to preserve jobs in FY21, and thanks to our cast members’ dedication and resilience, we continued to deliver exceptional guest satisfaction and positive results with local guests,” employees were still made to take unpaid leave throughout the year.

Moriarty adds “we are cautiously optimistic in our outlook ahead of the future gradual resumption of inbound tourism. Our new Castle of Magical Dreams, which has yet to be experienced by guests from outside of Hong Kong, as well as our daytime show ‘Follow Your Dreams’ and upcoming night-time spectacular ‘Momentous’, will be key drivers for local as well as inbound visitation in coming years.”

The resort has also continued to implement its health and safety measures after considering the latest guidance from government authorities, including capacity limits, health screenings, temperature checks, mask-on requirements, social distancing, and increased cleaning and sanitization. At the end of FY21, 93% of its full-time cast members had received two doses of vaccine and HKDL will continue to comply with the latest regulations including the vaccine pass requirements.

HKDL also continues to advocate for inclusion and equal opportunities and through its collaboration with the True Colours Symphony, the largest inclusive orchestra in Hong Kong, the resort created a special reinterpretation of Disney’s classic ‘A Whole New World’ with more than 20 musicians from various backgrounds, ages and abilities. Additionally, in Apr 2021, when many were still at home due to the pandemic, Disney VoluntEARS produced a video series with the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth featuring beloved Disney characters to promote active healthy living through multiple social platforms.

The resort also showcased its dedication to bringing comfort and happiness to the community once the pandemic situation in Hong Kong was under control. Close to 500 people, including children with hearing difficulties, design students and local families, were invited to a preview of the Castle of Magical Dreams before its official opening in Nov 2020. HKDL also resumed its signature ‘Community’s Got Talent’ programme in May 2021 to provide a platform for various organisations to showcase their own talent to guests in the park.

Throughout FY21, HKDL continued to explore innovative ways to fulfil children’s wishes and create special Disney journeys for young patients. One such example was the resort’s partnership with Josephine, a Wish Kid from Make-A-Wish Hong Kong, to design and produce a limited-edition jewellery collection for charity sale. The resort also produced a dedicated digital version of ‘Follow Your Dreams’ for exclusive screening at the Hong Kong Children’s Hospital, to help relieve the stress of young patients and their families.

In light of increasing demand for food assistance, a new meal box donation programme, ‘Disney Meal Box Express’ was introduced in Jun 2021 with over 12,500 healthy and freshly-cooked meal boxes provided to local families. HKDL also continued to expand its surplus food donation programme with Foodlink Foundation to help local residents.

More recently during the fifth wave of the pandemic outbreak, the resort is launching new and enhanced community initiatives under three major pillars. These include the enabling of essential facilities; powering up the community with free online storytelling video series for families and kids, food and essential materials donations to ethnic minority and underrepresented families; as well as appreciation efforts for the dedication and professionalism of medical staff and other frontline workers.

HKDL is committed to contributing to Hong Kong and serving the local community. In the past 16 years of operations combined, the resort brought approximately HK$115.3 billion of value-added to Hong Kong’s economy, equivalent to 0.29% of Hong Kong’s GDP, and cumulatively created 274,200 jobs (in terms of man-years), benefiting Hong Kong’s overall economy. On average, HKDL employed around 5,000 full-time and over 1,200 part- time staff during FY21, remaining one of Hong Kong’s largest employers in the tourism and family entertainment industry. Over the last 16 years, Disney VoluntEARS served a total of 111,000 volunteer hours in the community.

Moriarty stressed there were currently no plans to seek funding from the government, increase ticket prices or impose more unpaid leave on employees, adding "when we were open, we were doing well. Our guests are voting with their hearts and wallets, that’s why we are enjoying record-high local attendance."

With a statement on its website saying it is currently closed until 20th April, the theme park is anticipating more challenges ahead as the travel industry continues to be hard-hit by border closures amid successive waves of COVID infections.

The spread of Coronavirus in mainland China has also seen the closure of Shanghai Disney resort for an indefinite period as of yesterday.

Images: Michael Moriarty, Managing Director at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (top) and a new meal box donation program, ‘Disney Meal Box Express’ was introduced in Jun 2021 (below).

About the author

Karen Sweaney

Editor, Australasian Leisure Management

Artist, geoscientist and specialist writer on the leisure industry, Karen Sweaney is Editor of Australasian Leisure Management. Based in Sydney, Australia, her specific areas of interest include the arts, entertainment, the environment, fitness, tourism and wellness.

She has degrees in Fine Arts from the University of Sydney and Geological Oceanography from UNSW.

Read more from this author

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