Not ‘the happiest place on Earth’

  • Colours of China
  • Monday, 19 Aug 2019

MICKEY Mouse, Donald Duck, Snow White, Belle, Peter Pan, Buzz Lightyear, Aladdin and the Genie are not just Disney characters.

We grew up watching these characters on television or at the movies. The fondness for Disney characters is shared by generations of people.

That is why Disneyland has always been a top tourist attraction.

The theme park, known as “The Happiest Place on Earth” offers people from all walks of life a chance to relive their happiest memories.

There are only six Disneyland theme parks worldwide and one of them is in Shanghai.

It was big news in China since the Disneyland deal was signed a decade ago.

On its soft opening day, the theme park attracted 30, 000 visitors.

It was officially opened on June 16, 2016, but tickets for the first two weeks were already snapped up a month before. Its opening was headline news in China.

Last week, the theme park was in the limelight again but for the wrong reasons.

An undergraduate sued Shanghai Disneyland for its “no outside food and beverage” policy.

The Year Three international law student, known only as Wang of East China University of Political Science and Law, said she was forced to throw away her biscuits and snacks worth 46.3 yuan (RM28) after park security refused to let her in with the food which they found in her backpack on Jan 30.

She ended up paying 20 yuan (RM12) for one serving of sweet corn, 30 yuan (RM18) for cotton candy and 80 yuan (RM48) for buffalo wings during her trip to the park.

Wang filed the case at the People’s Court of Pudong New Area, demanding the park compensate her loss while calling for a ban on the “unfair” policy.

The case was heard on April 23, and the verdict is pending. However, it was only brought to light by the local media recently.

Social media users got into heated discussions on whether the policy was lawful and some 40% of the respondents in an online survey said they could accept it if the food was not overpriced.

They also argued if park security has the right to check visitors’ belongings.

There are almost 50 eateries in the park but consumers have been complaining of the expensive prices from day one.

Netizens revealed the price of some food – 10 yuan (RM6) for a bottle of water, 20 yuan (RM12) for a carbonated drink, 35 yuan (RM21) for popcorn, 40 yuan (RM24) for an ice-cream, 80 yuan (RM48) for a sandwich and a piece of cake is between 58 yuan (RM35) and 108 yuan (RM65).

This is not the first time Shanghai Disneyland was sued over the no outside food policy.

In June last year, a lawyer tried taking it to court by accusing the theme park of violating consumer rights but the court turned down his appeal, reported China Daily.

In fact, only the Disneyland parks in Asia – Shanghai, Hong Kong and Tokyo – banned outside food while the rest have no such restriction.

In response to Wang’s lawsuit, Shanghai Disneyland said the rule was consistent with many other theme parks across the country.

I have seen tourists gulping down bags of fruits and buns outside the theme park, otherwise they have to throw them away or pay 80 yuan (RM48) for storage.

I went to Shanghai Disneyland with a friend early last year and the trip was rather disappointing.

A place known for its playful atmosphere with Disney characters walking around and welcoming tourists with a big hug didn’t happen.

Apart from the scheduled main parade, which we saw as we entered the park, we did not come across any characters throughout the trip.

There were no roller-coasters, which I had been anticipating. Several of the sections were closed.

It took us less than half a day to complete the rounds.

A one-day entrance ticket per person costs 399 yuan (RM240) on normal days and 575 yuan (RM345) on weekends, public holidays and school holidays.

The price shoots up to 665 yuan (RM400) during the two super peak seasons – the golden Spring Festival and National Day periods.

During these times, the park welcomes at least 50, 000 visitors a day.

Shanghai Disneyland was closed on Aug 10 as Super Typhoon Lekima affected Shanghai but the last minute announcement angered those who had purchased tickets online.

The night before, the park informed of the closure on its official Weibo account, saying that ticket purchasers could re-schedule their visits to another day within the next six months.

There was no mention of refund, which saw tourists venting their anger online and soon after, the park reissued another statement which included the terms for a refund.

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