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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Happy Anniversary? 

Here in California, Disneyland has been celebrating its 50th anniversay for more than a year now. Hong Kong Disneyland probably won't extend its celebration:

Hong Kong Disneyland marked its first anniversary Tuesday after an inaugural year of poorer-than-expected attendance, bad publicity and chaos at the gates.

Braving heavy rain, Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy helped piece together a large puzzle that resembled a birthday cake, surrounded by park workers waving large Mickey-style gloves. Pop star Jacky Cheung, a celebrity spokesman for the park, applauded....

Later in the day, several protesters paraded through the park with four banners that said, "Disney exploits Chinese workers" and "Disney is a sweatshop." What appeared to be park staff confiscated one banner but did not interfere further....

Hong Kong Disneyland, however, hasn't been an instant success. It missed its first-year target of 5.6 million visitors.

Ernest said a week before the anniversary that attendance had exceeded 5 million but won't hit 5.6 million until later in September or in early October.

Adding to worries, that goal was conservative because it was made in 2002, when China only allowed its citizens to visit Hong Kong as part of tour groups. Beijing authorized individual travel to this semiautonomous former British colony in 2003.

In a ticketing miscalculation that became a major publicity debacle, the park had to turn away thousands of Chinese tourists with tickets during the peak Chinese New Year holidays in February. Angry guests tried to storm the park gates, with some climbing over them.

The park has also been dogged by negative publicity. Environmentalists protested shark's fin on the menu, and it was eventually dropped.

Critics accused park management of abusing its jurisdiction by asking health officers to remove identifying parts of their uniform in the park, and complained about the park's secrecy on attendance figures despite Hong Kong's huge public investment in the project.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

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