Hong Kong Disneyland opens gates to the public
Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Hong Kong

Peggy's husband was 40 on Monday. To celebrate, the family took the express train from their home in Tseung Bay at 9:30 a.m. to join hundreds of other people as the first visitors to Hong Kong Disneyland on Lantau island.



The family, however did not anticipate having to stand in the heat for hours in the queue to get into the 126-hectare theme park which was open to the public at 1 p.m. and to wait their turn to enjoy each and every attraction for between 10 and 45 minutes.

"My first impression of the park is not good; it's a disappointment that they let us stay in the open for hours, which is definitely uncomfortable for my child," said the mother of a two year old, while her mother and younger sister were trying to calm her perspiration-soaked father who kept saying: "Very, very unhappy".

"But maybe our opinion will change after subsequent visits," added Peggy, who decided to take the family for a late lunch before going home.

But for Aggie Lou from Guangzhou province of China, taking the trip to the park was a memorable occasion.

"It's fun to be here. It's so West," said the 19-year-old who apparently was fully prepared for the occasion. Sporting a pink and white T-shirt and jeans, she also wore a matching baseball cap and carried an umbrella.

The fifth in the world, the second in Asia and the first ever theme park in China, Hong Kong Disneyland opened its full services to the public on Monday.

A spectacular lion dance, children's choir and fireworks highlighted the ceremony attended by Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong and Hong Kong Special Administrative Region chief executive Donald Tsang.

"We will capitalize on the drawing power of the Disney brand to complement our renowned strengths in dining and shopping as a city that perfectly blends east and west," said Tsang in his speech.

"Hong Kong Disneyland is a strategic investment by the government in our tourism sector -- over the long term the park will bring billions of dollars to our economy."

The government has shifted its tourism promotional strategy from the original leisure and business destination to a family destination. The government plans to develop a number of other family friendly tourism attractions over the next six months, Tsang added.

Disneyland is expected to attract over five million visitors in one year and stimulate additional spending of US$1.1 billion and double those figures over a period of 15 to 20 years. Over a 40-year period it is also expected to generate $19 billion. Similar in size and main attractions to the first Disney theme park in Anaheim, California, Hong Kong Disneyland has a touch of Chinese elements and culture. Although the Cinderella and Snow White characters were performed by Caucasian cast members, visitors were delighted to see Mickey Mouse and his pals in Chinese costumes. An adult visitor can be a part of the magic kingdom for HK$295 during the week and $350 on weekends. For children between three and 11 years old the admission tickets are priced at $210 during the week and $250 on weekends. There are special rates for senior citizens while children under three are admitted for free.

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