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The Canadian Press - ONLINE EDITION

Hong Kong Disneyland turns profit for 2nd straight year, plans new hotel as part of expansion

HONG KONG - Turning a page on years of losses, Hong Kong Disneyland said Monday it was profitable for a second straight year and plans to build a third hotel to help cater to rising numbers of visitors.

The theme park in the southern Chinese city more than doubled its profit to 242 million Hong Kong dollars ($31 million) in the year to September. Revenue climbed 15 per cent to HK$4.9 billion as visitors rose 10 per cent to a high of 7.4 million.

The park had struggled after opening in 2005, with its poor performance blamed on its small size. But it became profitable in 2012 thanks to new attractions that drew more visitors, especially from mainland China.

Officials announced plans to build a 750-room resort-hotel that will cost HK$4.3 billion and is expected to open by early 2017. The new hotel will raise total room capacity by three-quarters to 1,750.

"Expansion plans are in place to sustain the momentum of growth and capture increasing demand especially in the light of growing tourism in the region," said Andrew Kam, the park's managing director.

The Hong Kong government owns 52 per cent of the park, with the Walt Disney Co. owning the rest. It's still the smallest of Disney's parks worldwide but an expansion project completed last year added 25 per cent to its size.

The park is also building a new attraction based on the "Iron Man" movie franchise, which is wildly popular in mainland China. It's scheduled to open in late 2016.

The new projects will help Hong Kong Disneyland stay competitive with a Disney park under construction in Shanghai that's expected to open in 2015.

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