Hong Kong Disneyland Update (4/15/2005)
In brief, from the SCMP: Disneyoland Told Not To Sell Tickts At Turnstiles, by Benjamin Wong (April 15, 2005):
The Disneyland theme park has been advised by the government against selling tickets at its gates when it opens later this year.
The move was prompted by the administartion's concerns that large crowds flocking to Hong Kong without tickets for the park could cause crowd-control and immigration problems.
Allowing travel agents to take responsibility for selling tickets to Disneyland has been suggested as a possible alternative.
Initial estimates suggest there could be as many as 100,000 visitors per day during the week-long National Day holiday in October, the first major break on the mainland after the opening of Disneyland.
Disneyland has predicted the theme park will attract 5.6 million visitors during its first year of operation. The theme park expects mainland tourists to account for a third of that figure.
It turns out that the local Chinese-language press read a whole lot more into the same facts.
From Wen Wei Pao, it was noted that the daily capacity for Disneyland is 30,000 persons. Thus, the estimated 100,000 mainland visitors on National Day will spell doomsday. According to the Disney organizaiton, the initial estimate of 5.6 million visitors (note: the figure is for the first six months, as not for the 'first year') is broken down as one-third each by Hong Kong, mainland China and overseas. From mainland China, the initial visitors will come from the Pearl River Delta and they are likely to be coming on their own and not with tour groups. It is not viable to have no tickets available for sale at the gate, because those visitors will be sorely disappointed if they can't get in. The government does not necessarily dispute the 5.6 million estimate (hey, who can tell anyway?) but believes that the locals are less interested since many have visited Disney theme parks elsewhere whereas the mainlanders will be more interested.
It was noted that the location of Disneyland meant that it was most logical for the tour buses from mainland China to go to the Lok Ma Chau checkpoint in order to enter Hong Kong. There are presently only 50 stations to process incoming visitors, and that may not be adequate to handle the traffic surge. Fair enough. What is the proposed solution? The tour operators should be encouraged to use the other checkpoints such as Lo Wu. Duhhhhh! Why should any bus travel the extra distance? The correction solution is to increase the number of stations. Rocket science, this isn't.
According to the association of the inbound tourist group agencies, Hong Kong Disneyland will be able to sell 50,000 to 60,000 tickets per day. Oops! But didn't they just say that the daily capacity was 30,000? Are we going to have street riots every day, like at the grand opening of that new casino in Macau?
And now for the best part: Why is there a push to allow travel agents to take responsibility for selling tickets? Can you say ... money? At the moment, many travel agencies sell tickets to theme parks (such as Ocean Park), and they usually get a commission. O, sweetness!
Meanwhile the Sing Tao editorial is just a piece of snobbery:
The Disneyland visitors from the mainland will come via different means. Some will come in tour groups, and it is easier to control their numbers and order. But the free travelers who come on their own will just show up at the entrance gate to buy tickets, and they will create queueing problems that can increase the chance of chaos.
The queueing culture of mailanders is not as good as that of Hong Kong residents, and that is just one factor. There are also economic and psychological factors involved. When the tickets come slowly, the people on the line may get anxious and irritated, and they can lose control if they have to travel from afar, spend a long time on the line and still get no tickets.
When Hong Kong people watch the disorderly manner in which mainlanders squeeze to get on public buses, they describe it as being similar to their own situation thirty or forty years ago. At that time, there was no such thing as orderliness in Hong Kong. When the bus pulled in to the stop, everybody rushed up and squeezed each other like sardines. One of the reasons was that it took a long time for a bus to show up, and that bus would often not stop because it was full. When the bus stopped and the door opened, there was usually little room for new passengers to get on. Today, Hong Kong buses are scheduled to run much more frequently, people can get on easily and order rules because there was no need to push and shove each other.
Disneyland is located on Lantau Island. Every day, tens of thousands of mainland and most local visitors will travel far to reach the location. This is a heavy investment in time and money for them. If there are not enough tickets for sale, those in the line will get anxious and irritated; if many people cannot get in, the chances for anger and chaos are increased.