I Wanna Go!!!!
Disney Opens Theme Park in Hong Kong
By WILLIAM FOREMAN | Associated Press Writer
Posted September 12, 2005, 7:04 AM EDT
HONG KONG -- Hong Kong Disneyland threw open its gates to the public Monday, marking Mickey Mouse's biggest push into China -- a market the U.S. company hopes will flood the theme park with splurging tourists from the world's most populous nation.
With the pink Snow White Castle behind them, Disney executives and a senior Chinese leader celebrated the opening with musicians clanging cymbals, Chinese lion dancers prancing precariously on tall poles and fireworks bursting in the sky.
The ceremony ended with a parade of skipping Disney characters old and new: Mickey, Donald Duck, Mushu the dragon, Lilo and Winnie the Pooh.
Robert Iger, president of the Walt Disney Co., said it was exciting being part of China's future. "As millions discover the wonders of Hong Kong and China -- one of the most rapidly growing travel destinations in the world -- the future is indeed bright," he said.
Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong called the park, "Hong Kongers' eternal carnival."
Hundreds of visitors lined up outside the park's gate, waiting to get in amid muggy, sweltering heat.
Michael Kuzma, of Celebration, Fla., began queuing up a day early and was first in line. "I think for over 50 years, the American people have experienced the happiness of Disney theme parks. I hope the people of China can enjoy the happiness," the 36-year-old consultant said.
The attraction and its two resort hotels are surrounded by mountains on lush Lantau Island, just 30 minutes away by subway from bustling central Hong Kong. It looks much like the first Disneyland in California, with a Space Mountain thrill ride, a classic Cinderella Carousel and Sleeping Beauty Castle -- which Disney predicts will be one of the most photographed buildings in Asia.
Hong Kong's government -- the biggest investor in the $3.5 billion park -- says the attraction will help turn this global financial capital into Asia's best family holiday spot.
Disney hopes the park, the 11th in its global empire, will be a magnet for increasingly wealthy Chinese tourists, who have a reputation for being big-spenders.
Iger, president of Walt Disney Co., has said the Hong Kong park is a "first big step" in expanding the company's reach into China, where generations have grown up with little or no familiarity with Mickey Mouse.
Iger said the park would create a media buzz and word-of-mouth excitement that would ignite interest in Disney films, TV shows and other products. Hong Kong-based Phoenix Television broadcast the Disneyland opening live to viewers across China.
Michael Eisner, Disney's chief executive officer, said China and Disneyland will be a perfect match because they both value families.
"You go to the park and you see mothers, daughters and kids and grandparents. The family unit in China is unbelievably strong. It's not just Hong Kong, it's mainland China," Eisner said.
An hour before Monday's opening ceremony, a small crowd of labor, human rights and anti-Disney activists gathered outside the park's front gate, chanting "No Conscience" and "Evil Mickey." They were protesting alleged labor abuses at factories making Disney products in China. Disney has said it's investigating the claims.
Hong Kong and Disney struck a deal to build the park in 1999 -- just two years after the former British colony returned to Chinese rule. The city had been battered by the Asian financial crisis, and desperately needed a new project to boost its spirits and troubled economy.
Disneyland says it employs 5,000 people and will draw 5.6 million visitors in its first year.
So far, the biggest complaint among some of the thousands who got a sneak peak at the park during a soft opening period has been that Hong Kong Disneyland is too small. It's Disney's smallest park at about 100 acres.
The entire attraction -- including the two hotels -- is 298 acres, and there's room to expand to nearly 500 acres.
Chinese tourist Zhang Wei predicted the park would be a big hit with the mainland Chinese.
"Disney has a big name and it will definitely attract people and be a success," said the 38-year-old businessman from Beijing as he finished watching the daily parade of floats carrying a waving Little Mermaid, Alice in Wonderland and Buzz Lightyear.
Hong Kongers have a reputation for being brusque and unsmiling, but the Disneyland staff -- including cleaners and guards -- have been trying to master the Disney tradition of giving guests a warm smile and hello.
The greetings were Hong Kong visitor Evie Chan's favorite thing about the park. "The staff here is very friendly," said Chan, an employee of a marketing firm in her late 20s. "It's like we've known each other for a long time."
Meet ya there!
All the people will look up and shout: "Save us!" and I'll whisper...'no'.
Who watches the watchmen?
Anyone know of any video that can be seen of the opening yet?
Knowing China there'll be about 4,000,000 videos already....
"I really hope that people won't cherry-pick my quotes in the future
and use them out of context to justify things that I would never sign-off on."
- Walt Disney
Ok, is it just me or was anyone else annoyed that he calls it Snow White's Castle?
From Disneyland HK web site Grand Opening Celebration
You can also take a virtual tour.http://park.hongkongdisneyland.com/...e?name=HomePage
(click link below) Its like our Disneyland in Anaheim Wow.Try it out.
Grand Opening Celebration
Be a part of the celebration as Hong Kong Disneyland opens its doors to the world! Take advantage of this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to join in the Grand Opening festivities and get exclusive, limited edition merchandise available for a limited time, only at this most magic of events.
(Go to site for video.)
“There’s Magic at Work” Music Video
Make a wish and watch dreams come true as Hong Kong Disneyland spokesman Jacky Cheung sings about the magic found at this fantastic new destination. This enchanting music video paints a picture of a magical place where people come together as one, sharing the same pulse, to create a world of imagination and fantasy where anything is possible.
Special Edition Grand Opening Tickets
Experience the magic of Hong Kong Disneyland during the 2005 Grand Opening celebration and commemorate your special visit with the ultimate collector's dream – a special-edition Theme Park ticket.
Magical Accommodations at Disney Hotels
Stay amongst the magic during the Grand Opening festivities when you experience the comfort, style and signature service of a Disney Hotel. Amazing amenities, creative themes and family entertainment ensure that all your vacation dreams will come true.
Lucky the Dinosaur
Delight as past and future collide with the Hong Kong Disneyland debut of Lucky, the first ever free-moving, Audio-Animatronic® figure. This friendly dinosaur will amaze you during this Grand Opening period, as he interacts up close with Guests.
Begin a Pin Trading tradition, bring the sounds of Hong Kong Disneyland home with you or shop the Emporium for other special edition Grand Opening merchandise that will add a touch of magic to any Disney collection.
Originally Posted by 20K
haha... They will all be recorded on their video cell phones!!!
Sounds like someone (cough cough) from here, to represent DWT, (ahem), should take a trip over to Hong Kong and give us all a full report. So let's take up the "Send Lou to Hong Kong" fund, okie?
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