The revolving door at the top of Hong Kong Disneyland’s management ranks has turned yet again, with the loss-making theme park announcing a new managing director on Friday.
Michael Moriarty, from US toy giant Hasbro, will return to the theme park on December 27, succeeding Stephanie Young, who spent less than two years in the position, the company said in a statement.
Hong Kong-based Moriarty, most recently managing director of Hasbro Far East and senior vice-president of global sourcing, previously spent 14 years at Walt Disney Co, including a three-year stint as the local resort’s financial officer that ended in 2012.
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His appointment makes him the Lantau Island tourist destination’s sixth managing director since it opened 15 years ago.
Young, who has held the position since February 2019, will become president of consumer products, games and publishing for Walt Disney Parks, experiences and products in December.
The theme park is owned by the Hong Kong government and Walt Disney via the joint-venture Hongkong International Theme Parks Ltd, with the former holding a 53 per cent stake.
“This appointment comes at an exciting time as the resort launches its 15th anniversary celebration,” Disney Parks International president and managing director Jill Estorino said in a statement.
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“With Michael’s extensive experience in finance, commercial strategy and operations, along with his knowledge of the Hong Kong Market and relationships across Asia, the resort will continue to be well positioned to help drive the recovery of the tourism industry in Hong Kong.”
She thanked Young for launching the resort’s newest attraction, Ant-Man and The Wasp: Nano Battle!, as well as for continuing to build on the presence of Marvel and unveiling the upgraded Castle of Magic Dreams attraction.
Moriarty said he was pleased to return to the resort and believed tourism would thrive in the years ahead. During his run as Hong Kong Disneyland’s chief financial officer from 2009 to 2012, the park grew by 25 per cent in terms of new land, attractions and experiences.
Fast forward to 2019, and the resort has been rocked by both last year’s social unrest, which led to a pronounced drop in mainland visitors, and the coronavirus. Since late January, Disneyland has been forced to close twice due to social-distancing rules introduced to combat the pandemic.
The theme park and resort has lost money for five straight financial years from 2015, with the anti-government protests helping push the 2018-19 loss to HK$105 million, nearly double the HK$54 million the year prior.
More recent setbacks include the government’s September decision to take back a 60-hectare plot in Penny’s Bay on Lantau – the size of three Victoria Parks – originally intended for Disneyland’s eventual expansion. Officials pointed to the dismal economic climate in declining to renew the park’s option on the site.
Tourism lawmaker Yiu Si-wing said the frequent changes at the managing director position could be related to America’s performance-driven culture.
“The new managing director’s experience with Hasbro will complement Disneyland’s business,” Yiu said. “He is expected to come up with ways to increase revenue following the HK$10.9 billion expansion plan, as well as raise efficiency and reduce the park’s costs.”
The multibillion-dollar expansion, partly funded by taxpayer dollars, spans 2018 to 2023 and includes a revamped castle and a new Frozen-themed area.
The Post has contacted the government for comment.