Loss-making Hong Kong Disneyland Resort is to raise its one-day admission prices by 3.2 per cent to HK$639 (S$110), the most expensive theme park ticket price in Asia.
This is the fifth time prices have risen since the park opened in 2005. The increase means adult admission will cost HK$639 and HK$475 for a child, while two-day tickets will rise by a similar extent to HK$825 and HK$609 respectively, the Lantau Island park announced on Tuesday.
The new prices will take effect on Wednesday. But Hong Kong residents can enjoy a two-month grace period to buy all annual passes and one-day tickets at current prices.
Annual passes will also be raised by about 3 per cent with a platinum membership priced at HK$3,599, HK$2,059 for gold and HK$1,278 for silver.
Hong Kong Disneyland said the latest rise was the most modest adjustment in recent years, and was necessary to offset rising operating costs and other factors.
To retain regulars, Disneyland has also offered annual pass holders the chance to renew at a discount.
The new one-day fee is much higher than the 7,400 yen (S$90) charged by Disneyland in Tokyo and the 399 yuan (S$80) by Disney Resort in Shanghai, though tickets at the Shanghai theme park, during peak seasons such as National Day and Lunar New Year, can be more expensive than at the Hong Kong site.
Hong Kong Disneyland, jointly owned by the Hong Kong government and Walt Disney, recorded a loss last year, the fourth straight year of deficits. Last year's loss narrowed to HK$54 million from the HK$345 million deficit it reported in 2017.
The Lantau theme park is in the middle of a HK$10.9 billion expansion plan, which is adding and upgrading attractions. For examples, an all-new Marvel-themed feature, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle! was open in March and the castle is due to be transformed next year with daytime and night-time shows.
The expansion has been largely funded by the public purse.
Tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said the fee rise on one-day admission tickets risked deterring one-off visitors, but welcomed the special offers aimed at retaining existing ones.
"It will help boost the park's chances of getting back in the black," he said.
Yiu warned Disneyland of the long-term risks of pushing prices too high amid stiff competition from other regional resorts, such as those on Hengqin island in Zhuhai and elsewhere in Guangdong province, now that new infrastructure projects like the high-speed rail line and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge have made travel more convenient.
The rival local attraction Ocean Park in Southern District currently has no plans to raise admission prices, according to a spokeswoman.
"As a financially self-sufficient, not-for-profit organisation, Ocean Park reviews its pricing regularly to ensure that we offer guests the best value for money, while ensuring a stable cash flow to meet increasing operational costs and debt service," she said.
Ocean Park's one-day admission fees, at HK$480 per adult HK$240 per child, have remained the same since the start of this year.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.