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Hong Kong Disneyland's first years "unsatisfactory"

People dressed as Disney characters Minnie Mouse (L) and Mickey Mouse (R) celebrate the one year anniversary of Hong Kong Disneyland in Hong Kong September 12, 2006. HONG KONG OUT REUTERS/Stringer

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong Disneyland’s first two years of operation were “not satisfactory” and the city government -- a co-owner of the park which opened in 2005 -- would keep pushing for improvements, a senior official said on Wednesday Walt Disney Co’s second outpost in Asia has missed its attendance goals for two years running in the face of stiff competition from incumbent local competitor Ocean Park.

Frederick Ma, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development, told legislators the park helped enhance Hong Kong’s brand image and was a one of the city’s largest employers of full-time entertainment staff.

More families were visiting Hong Kong with children, and Disneyland helped “anchor” that segment, he added.

“Notwithstanding these benefits, the first two years of Hong Kong Disneyland’s operation were not satisfactory and the park is still taking time to adapt to the local operational environment,” he noted.

“The government will continue to urge the park management to formulate cost-effective business strategies, improve the park’s operational efficiency and work more closely with the local travel trade, with a view to harnessing the full economic potentials of this international theme park.”

Poor attendance at the 310-acre (125 hectare) resort -- Disney’s smallest -- has weighed on Disney’s results and the firm is under pressure to find funds to revamp the “magic kingdom”.

Shanghai is planning to build a major theme park, possibly a Disneyland, which would further complicate matters for the Hong Kong park. Tokyo is home to Disney’s first theme park in Asia.

The Hong Kong government holds a 57 percent stake in the park, and Disney holds the remaining 43 percent.

Reporting by John Ruwitch