Disneyland Hong Kong China

Halloween and the art of scaring people

For a relatively small city like Hong Kong, Halloween packs a surprisingly big punch, especially for the city’s two theme parks.

While Ocean Park’s stellar result of attracting 750,000 visitors for its Halloween Fest last year was attributed mainly to cultural relevance, increasing evidences have shown Hong Kong Disneyland’s growing intentions to embark on the same journey to promote its Halloween programme, such as tapping local bloggers and stars for viral videos and the introduction of local haunted school themed attraction that aims to resonate with locals’ collective memories.

“Although we are a US-based company, here in Hong Kong we are actually very local-orientated,” said Wendy Chu, marketing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort.

“Our Halloween festival can arguably be the most frightening one in all Disneyland across the globe that breaks the tradition of family-style in western Halloween culture.”

But as much as the US-based amusement park tries to pursue a localisation approach, some restrictions remain.

“The decision of bringing in more Chinese ghosts or not depends hugely on our overall theme,” she said.

“Localised theme can only be applied when it matches our in-park environment. Admittedly, it is rather odd to see a “Ringu” ghost hanging around on Main Street.”

So instead of pushing hard to drive cultural relevance, the park has once again pulled out its trump card, storytelling, for its Halloween programme.

From 2011’s Revenge of the Headless Horseman and the Vampire Coven and the Were Tribe from last year, to Scream-No-More for 2013, Hong Kong Disneyland has embarked on a story-telling journey for the festival.

“Today’s young adults no longer satisfied with the moment of being frightened, they now seek for a more holistic haunted environment and interactivity.

“To do so, we crafted a strong narrative for our Halloween programmes in order to encourage visitors to take part in the stories so as to keep them engaged during in-park visit,” said Chu, adding that the attendance during the Halloween period has seen a significant growth after applying narrative themes.

And this year social media is taking a central theme.

“Based on our information from last year, the majority of users for young adults and families gained information from social media, which is particularly suitable for Halloween marketing since it is a young-adult focused event.”

A 20-second ad with a muffled voice whispering “scream no more” will also air on UA and Broadway cinema before horror movies.

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