Hong Kong Disney gets $1.4B expansion with Frozen theme area

Photo: Hong Kong Disneyland

The Walt Disney Co. and Hong Kong are launching a $1.4 billion expansion of the southern Chinese city's Disneyland resort that includes the company's first themed areas based on the movie "Frozen" and Marvel superhero characters.

The Hong Kong government, which owns a controlling stake in the resort, said Tuesday it signed an agreement with Disney for the expansion, which also calls for renovating the park's castle and adding an attraction based on Disney's new animated film "Moana."

Work on the 10.9 billion Hong Kong dollar ($1.4 billion) expansion is scheduled to run from 2018 to 2023.

Hong Kong is striving to improve its competitiveness as an Asian tourism destination following the June launch of Shanghai Disneyland, a $5.5 billion resort that many had feared would siphon off mainland Chinese visitors to the Hong Kong park.

Hong Kong Disneyland lost HK$148 million in its most recent financial year as attendance fell 9 percent, following three years of profit. The park, which opened in 2005, was criticized in its early years for being too small and having too few big-ticket rides.

New attractions and facilities have been added over the years. An "Iron Man" land is due to open in January followed by an Explorers Lodge hotel later in the year.

Costs will be divided according to ownership, with the Hong Kong government, which owns 53 percent of the park, contributing $748 million. Walt Disney Co. will put in the remaining $658 billion.

Disney's board and Hong Kong's legislature must approve funding for the project.