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Hong Kong Disneyland expansion financing approved

July 10, 2009 | 10:12 am

Km1thsncHONGKONG A Hong Kong legislative committee today approved the financial terms for a major expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland, representing another milestone in plans to add three new areas to the park by 2014.

Disney will invest about $448 million in the construction and swap its outstanding loans totaling about $353 million into additional equity in a joint venture company, Hong Kong International Theme Parks. The Hong Kong government will retain the majority ownership in the venture, however.

The deal would expand the park by increasing the number of theme areas to seven from four over the next five years, tackling criticism that the world's smallest Disneyland did not offer enough attractions. Two themed areas — Grizzly Trail and Mystic Point — will be exclusive to Hong Kong, and a third, Toy Story Land, will be the only attraction of its kind in Asia for the first five years after its opening.

"This substantial investment represents our continued commitment to and confidence in Hong Kong Disneyland and solidifies our partnership with the Hong Kong government, helping assure the resort's long-term success," said Jay Rasulo, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

The announcement comes at a time when Hong Kong Disneyland could soon face a major competitor in Shanghai, which is still in negotiations with Burbank-based Disney to open a much larger $3.59-billion theme park as early as 2014.

— Dawn C. Chmielewski

Photo: Mickey Mouse wears a Chinese New Year costume and hits the drum during a parade at Hong Kong Disneyland. Credit: Ym Yik / EPA

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