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March 19th, 2017 Cat: Bisnis Online

Can anyone really go against Disney in the theme park business and hold their own? As Disney theme parks move across the world to Europe and Asia, how well will the places that have their own rich theme park traditions fare? A case in point, is the massively popular oceanic aquarium in Hong Kong called Ocean Park, that is right across town from the Hong Kong Disneyland. When Disney opened its theme park in Hong Kong four years ago, Ocean Park was all but written off by industry analysts. Not only has the oceanic aquarium not folded, it has, most arguably, retained its status as the number one theme park in Hong Kong – a 32 year feat. When Disney opens its much awaited theme park in Shanghai soon, they can expect to take the rivalry on the road over there: Ocean Park will be opening in Shanghai too.

Disneyland’s Hong Kong venture, while popular, made a number of mistakes with its business strategy that might have helped Ocean Park regroup. For instance, they opened during the Chinese New Year, and found the attendance quite disappointing. Ocean Park, on the other hand, solidly knew the Chinese culture, and they grew in attendance the first year Disney appeared on the landscape. But that doesn’t make the oceanic aquarium take its success for granted; while they plan on joining Disney in Shanghai, they won’t actually venture out just yet. They plan to let Disney go first so that they could assess how much of the market might be available for Ocean Park after people take in Disney’s entertainment.

Disney’s rival, the oceanic aquarium theme park, is, perhaps, not really being too conservative here. With four years under its belt in Hong Kong, Disney now believes that mistakes made in its first venture, will not be repeated. The Disney theme park in Shanghai is not going to be starting out taking baby steps like they did in Hong Kong. Shanghai is an oversize city with oversize ambitions. Disney would hardly want to insult the Shanghai pride with a small tentative effort. And it will be close to the city center too, though not as close as Ocean Park manages in Hong Kong. As interesting as the match-up goes, Disney in California refuses to comment on it. It would hardly do for the American behemoth to be seen as setting its sights on a small foreign competitor trying to put them out of business.

But perhaps Ocean Park’s oceanic aquarium concept is not really in competition with Disney. Disney’s grandest roller coaster, Space Mountain, is a tame affair that goes breathtakingly slow speeds. Ocean Park instead is aimed at adults with three super adventurous roller coasters. Disneyland is aimed at really young children. Ocean Park with its dolphins and pandas, really is in a completely different business. The National Geographic magazine placed Ocean Park as the second most exciting non-American theme park. To Disney, that has to hurt.

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