Hong Kong Disneyland opens in a week


    By Annie Wong

    When people hear the phrase, ?the happiest place on earth,? many automatically think of Disneyland in California. But now, it seems, the Walt Disney Company is creating the ?happiest places? on earth and is opening its newest theme park in Hong Kong on Sept. 12.

    It?s exciting to have Disneyland in China said Burkley Jensen, a junior from Mesa, Ariz., who is majoring in Chinese.

    ?So many Chinese people go to the Disneyland in America,? Jensen said. ?I think it?s really neat that they can have one for their country.?

    In November 1999, the Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong Government announced plans to build a Disneyland theme park in Hong Kong. According to Hong Kong Diseyland?s official Web site, the theme park is estimated to have 5.6 million visitors annually. It also includes two hotels, and retail, dining and facilities.

    Not only does the theme park provide entertainment, it also helps Hong Kong improve its economy and tourism industry by bringing publicity to the city.

    ?The project is estimated to create 18,000 new jobs at opening ? both from Disney and other employment opportunities, rising to 36,000 once the first park reaches build-out,? according to Hong Kong Disneyland?s Web site. ?The Government economist estimated that the first phase of the project will generate a present economic value of Hong Kong $148 billion (US$19 billion) in benefits to Hong Kong over a 40-year period.?

    Besides creating more employment opportunities, Hong Kong Disneyland also ushers in a new tourism era for China, its motherland.

    ?Hong Kong Disneyland will become the hottest travel destination in Hong Kong and Asia and will bring tremendous business opportunities to the mainland tourism market,? stated Roy Tan Hardy, vice president for marketing and sales of Hong Kong Disneyland, in a press release. ?We hope that, through this trade fair, we will cultivate good relationships with Chinese travel agents and begin to cooperate with them to develop the travel industry in China.?

    The new Disneyland will provide a great opportunity for people from China to come closer to the Western World and know what Americans do for fun, said Rebekah Lau, 21, a senior from Hong Kong majoring in music.

    Hong Kong Disneyland is modeled after the one in California and highlights some of the best features from the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

    ?I expect it to be similar to the ones in the states,? Jensen said. ?But I also expect the Chinese culture incorporated with the theme park. Something like dragon rides.?

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