26 April 2019
Hong Kong Disneyland is giving away 50,000 tickets to local residents. Photo: Reuters/HK Disneyland
Hong Kong Disneyland is giving away 50,000 tickets to local residents. Photo: Reuters/HK Disneyland

Why Disneyland is so generous to Hongkongers

There is no such thing as a free lunch. Even in the case of Hong Kong Disneyland, which is giving away tickets to its magical kingdom.

As far as I know, this is the first time Walt Disney’s Hong Kong unit is offering free tickets. It is giving away 50,000 tickets to local residents, who must fill in a form (in 10 minutes or you’re out!) to be able to join the lucky draw. Winners are entitled to a one-day admission to the theme park next year.

The online contest, More Disney Fun for Everyone in HK, immediately went viral. More than 330,000 signed up in the first four hours.

At this rate, it could easily surpass China Literature, which drew nearly 420,000 subscribers to its initial public offering. Those who qualified are expected to gain the equivalent of the price of an iPhone X when the stock starts trading today.

But of course, only less than eight in every 100 starry-eyed investors got a minimum lot of the shares. The odds of getting a free Disneyland ticket are much higher.

Now why has Hong Kong Disneyland suddenly become so generous?

The Penny’s Bay attraction is struggling to get more visitors amid a slowdown in the influx of mainland tourists, many of whom have opted for the bigger Shanghai Disneyland.

Last year, Hong Kong Disneyland reported its second consecutive annual loss as attendance dropped around 10 percent to 6.1 million.

By giving away 50,000 tickets, the theme park operator is probably expecting a multiplier effect, considering that the lucky winner is not likely to enjoy the visit alone and would bring his/her family along.

For instance, if a member of a family of four wins a free ticket, it is likely that the other three members of the family will come along, assuring good ole Disney of three revenue guests. That’s HK$1,700 more or less in the cash register. Now multiply that by 50,000.

(This is probably the reason why one of the questions in the form is how old are your children.)

It’s a marketing gimmick with a feel-good factor that enhances Disney’s image among locals while encouraging them to visit the place and spend.

You will perhaps recall that during the negotiations with the government for its expansion plans, Disney promised to offer free tickets to local residents. Well, the lucky draw, which started on Tuesday and ends on Nov. 16, is a fulfillment of that promise.

Still, it is nice to know that Disneyland finally understands how to please its Hong Kong customers, who are becoming increasingly more important in the wake of the decline in mainland arrivals.

A friend who joined the lucky draw was surprised to be asked to use only 50 characters – not 50 words – to answer why she likes Hong Kong Disneyland.

Surely there is no need for a lengthy explanation. Disney knows the answer: freebies always make Hongkongers happy.

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EJ Insight writer

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