Hong Kong Disneyland sets growth plan

Park would invest as much as $516 mil in expansion

BANGKOK -- Hong Kong Disneyland is planning to invest HK$3 billion-$4 billion ($387 million-$516 million) in a 49.4-acre expansion, local media reported Tuesday.

The investment would grow the park by about a third, the South China Morning Post said, citing statements made by the park's managing director, Andrew Kam Min-ho.

A Disney spokeswoman reached in Hong Kong confirmed that Disney and the Hong Kong government are in talks about expanding the park but said in an e-mail that "it is inappropriate for us to comment on that at this stage."

Last week, Kam, a 20-year veteran of Coca-Cola in China who was named the park's managing director in August, pledged to the Hong Kong government that the theme park will become profitable during his tenure, the Post reported.

The struggling resort that opened in September 2005 had 4 million visitors from October 2006-September 2007 -- below its expected attendance.

Kam's appointment came on the heels of the strengthening of a key free trade agreement between China and Hong Kong that will allow nonresidents of southern China working in the region to visit Hong Kong Disneyland.

Much hope is put on Kam's ability to leverage his China experience to expand the Disney brand and attract Chinese tourists to the park, a Disney spokesperson said in August.