Hong Kong Disneyland opensits door to the paying public today after a weekend of celebrations attended byDisney president Robert Iger, outgoing CEO Michael Eisner,
Hong Kong stars such as KarenMok, Coco Lee, Charlie Young and HK Disneyland spokesman Jacky Cheung turned upfor the park's three-day launch party,although rumours that international stars such as Johnny Depp, John Travoltaand Zhang Ziyi would also put in an appearance proved to be unfounded. Depp was in Toronto on Sunday promoting Corpse Bride.
About 16,000 tickets havebeen sold for the park's opening day (September 12) when the doors open at
The $3.5bn park - located on
Iger, who takes over from Eisner as Disney CEO at the end of this month, described the park as a keycomponent in the company's plans to break into the
"We fully expect this is agiant step in the direction of growing the company and all its Disney brandsand businesses in this very populous region," Iger told the Associated Pressover the weekend.
While Mickey and friends arehousehold names in the former British colony of
Mainland tourists areexpected to make up about one third of the park's 5.6 million annual visitors,with Hong Kong Chinese and visitors from the rest of the world also accountingfor about one third each. Adult tickets, priced at HK$295 in the off-season,are expensive for the majority of mainland Chinese although Disney officialspoint out that
However further access tomainland
Disney has long been engagedin talks with Chinese officials about the launch of TV channels and otherbusinesses in mainland
Two years ago, the proposed
The most recent gripesfollow a series of rehearsal days in which the park suffered from crowding andoperational problems. This resulted in the last-minute addition of 600restaurant seats and 20 food carts although the park has refused to lower itsmaximum capacity of 30,000 visitors.
However the park has tickeda few boxes by striving to take local culture into account. A feng shui masterwas hired to consult on the design; Chinese food, including Cantonese specialtydim sum, is sold in the restaurants, and park staff speak Cantonese and Mandarinin addition to English.
It was the feng shui masterwho insisted on the Sep 12 opening day, three months ahead of schedule and,some might say, unfortunately close to the anniversary of the September 11terrorist attacks.