As the global financial crisis hits rock bottom, especially in the US, the theme park industry is experiencing exceptionally hard times as visitor numbers plummet and projects as far off as the Middle East are put on hold.
Hong Kong Disneyland, which had originally planned to expand it’s small park, have frozen it’s plans after failing to secure funding from the Hong Kong government. From the 16th March all design work had ceased and 30 of the 40 strong “Imagineering” team will be hi-ho hi-ho-ing off to the unemployment lines.
Over the last year, the plans to open Disneyland Shanghai have ranged from news of the Shanghai government signing off on a deal with Disney to flat denials to any agreement being reached as recent as January this year.
Bloomberg reports (the most likely story) that Disney and the Shanghai government had come to an agreement but still need a green light from the central government in Beijing.
That being the case, it is understandable that neither Disney nor the Shanghai government want to let too many cats out their respective bags.
Steve Birenberg of seekingalpha.com‘s take on this is that Disney is also trying to preserve cash to make sure they are flush enough to push into China, however as Disney continues to lose money in Hong Kong’s existing park, suspending expansion plans might not be enough.
Image by Alexandra Moss