HK Disneyland prepares for September opening

HONG KONG: When Disney's newest theme park opens in Hong Kong in just over 50 days time, green hats will be banished, clocks will be kept to a minimum and fried rice rather than hot dogs will top the menu. 

The US$1.8bil park, which opens on Sept 12, has been designed with advice from Chinese geomancers or feng shui masters to blend Hollywood with Chinese sensibilities. 

“Any man wearing a green hat means their partner is having an affair,” said merchandise director Phyllis Wong, explaining why the items will not be stocked in souvenir shops on site. The gift of a clock in Chinese is linked to a funeral and is deemed to be bad lack, she added. 

The orientation of restaurants and positioning of the fountains have all been specially calculated by the feng shui experts. 

To cater for Asians' love of petite souvenirs, many items of merchandise have been shrunk. To address the Asian love of fashion, clothing in souvenir stalls will be changed far more often than in other Disney parks. 

Hong Kong families pose with Walt Disney characters Mickey Mouse (L) and Minnie Mouse (C) during a promotional event at Hong Kong's international airport on Jul 17. - AFPpic

However, the company has had one embarrassing setback in its East meet West campaign when pressure from environmentalists forced the park to withdraw shark's fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, from menus. 

“The park is 95% complete. There is still fine tuning ongoing but we are ready to open in September,” said Don Robinson, group managing director of the Hong Kong park, at a sneak preview.  

The 126ha park is capable of accommodating 30,000 people a day and also features the trademark Sleeping Beauty Castle, a replica of the original castle at the first park in California that recently celebrated its 50th birthday. 

The 15,000 tickets available for the opening day have already sold out and Disney bosses say they are confident the new park can draw 5.6 million visitors a year, with a quarter from mainland China. – AFP  

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