By Associated Press Writer
updated 12/5/2007 11:27:15 AM ET 2007-12-05T16:27:15

Hong Kong Disneyland's first two years of operation were unsatisfactory and the government — which holds a majority stake in the $3.5 billion park — will continue to push for improvements, an official said Wednesday.

The theme park, which opened on Sept. 12, 2005, missed its attendance target for the second year in a row, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Frederick Ma said, without disclosing the exact figures.

"The first two years of Hong Kong Disneyland's operation were not satisfactory," Ma told lawmakers.

"The government will continue to urge the park management to formulate cost-effective business strategies and improve the park's operational efficiency," he said.

In its first year, Hong Kong Disneyland fell 400,000 short of its target 5.6 million audience.

Park officials have been secretive about second-year numbers, but local media reports estimated up to 4.8 million visited the park in its second year.

"While it is not appropriate for us to share any commercial figures, Hong Kong Disneyland has become one of the most visited theme parks in the world and a top attraction in Hong Kong since its opening two years ago," Hong Kong Disneyland spokeswoman Glendy Chu said in an e-mailed response.

Hong Kong Disneyland, a major showcase of Disney entertainment for mainland China, has been criticized for being too small, and lacking the high-profile rides of its international sister parks in Tokyo, Paris and the United States.

It is also facing increased competition from Ocean Park, a local sea-based adventure park, and reports that Disney is planning to build a theme park in Shanghai could add further pressure to the Hong Kong site.

Walt Disney Co.'s earnings results showed Hong Kong Disneyland's operating income dropped in both the first and second quarters this year, curtailing overall growth for its park and resorts division.

The Hong Kong government owns a 57 percent stake in the park and shouldered most of the $3.5 billion construction cost, but is reportedly not keen to inject more public money to fund the park's expansion.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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