The mainland has been deemed as a natural market for Hong Kong Disneyland.
Having over 10 million visitors to Hong Kong yearly, the mainland has been deemed as a natural market for the city's Disneyland.
However, the idea is once again put into test when low attendance was reported in the park during the ongoing Labor Day "golden week" holidays. "Gold Week" Sees Flat Reaction
While Hong Kong expecting to receive about 420,000 visitors from the mainland, Disneyland here also announced the seven-day holidays as its "golden week" for guests.
Related publicity activities included custom-made shining golden dresses for Mickey and Minnie Mouses, set meal of Chinese dishes and uplifted ticket price for special dates.
Compared to the aggressive promotion, the theme park's "golden week" kicked off in a quite and orderly way due to low attendance of visitors.
On Monday, officially the first day of the holidays, neither long lines nor big crowds were formed in the park.
A handful of working reporters and local cable TV's satellite transition disks became so remarkable against an almost empty Main Street USA in the park.
At the entrance of several popular games, it took only five to ten minutes waiting for visitors to have a ride, which on some weekends would have people stand in line for at least half an hour.
Until Wednesday, tickets to the park for the rest of the "gold week" are still available for on-line purchase.
It's a sharp contrast to what occurred in the Chinese New Year holidays only three months ago, when Disneyland closed its gate to hundreds of visitors after the park reaching its maximum reception capabilities soon after opening.
The waiting crowd, mostly tourists from mainland with advance-purchased tickets, turned into rally ramming against the gate, climbing over the rail or passing their kids over the fence.
While local press hinted that memory of the incident caused the low turnout of the "golden week", Disneyland firmly denied the connection.
The park's executive vice-president Bill Ernest said it's just the beginning of the seven-day vacation and the park was expecting" steady buildup of visitors" over the week.
At least, Mr. Zhao and his families from Shanghai were not intimidated by what occurred in Disneyland in the Chinese New Year.
"We know that, but guess many people won't come here for the sake. That's why here we are," he told Xinhua, while taking photos for his daughter in front of a spring with Mickey's stature. High Price a Concern
However, Mickey Mouse's magic isn't strong enough to get every mainland tourist forget the ticket incident or overcome the high price of Disneyland ticket for holidays.
Out of the gate of Disneyland's rivalry, Hong Kong Ocean Park, a woman named Lai told Xinhua that her family had no plan to visit Disneyland. "We heard it's over packed and expensive," she said with her child around.
When asked whether her daughter wanted to visit Disneyland and have a close look at the Mickey Mouse, Lai answered for the seven-year-old, "No, we are fine here. Disneyland is no fun." While answering so, the mother clutched the kid's hand and used her body hiding the girl.
Disneyland charged 350 HK dollars (45 U.S. dollars) for one adult on special dates such as the "golden week" holidays, while one adult ticket of Ocean Park costs only 185 HK dollars (24 U.S. dollars) all the time.
While Disneyland defending its entrance fee with promise of wonderful experience and quality service, the price factor still weighs heavy in mainland visitor's head, or at least those going to the Ocean Park only.
A tourist guide named Qian told Xinhua that most of her guests chose Ocean Park rather than Disneyland, for the latter's price ticket was "so high".
"In our place, people have a tight budget when they traveling around," said Qian from the southwestern Sichuan Province.
For the guests' opposition, Qian's travel agency has cut Disneyland from its Hong Kong tour itinerary. The guide will lead a tour to the magic kingdom only when a certain number of guests in a group agreed to pay the extra entrance fee. A Strange Culture Called Disney
Though the price factor influenced people's choice between the two theme parks, it's not the only reason that deterred mainland tourists from visiting Disneyland.
Offering a variety of aquarium exhibition, dolphin show and mechanical games such as roller coaster, Ocean Park is a concept-clear entertainment place to most mainland visitors of anyage group.
Growing up with most children in the West, Disneyland doesn't always ring a bell to people in the mainland, where cartoon and movies produced by Walter Disney Co. made its debut in the 1980's and mostly in big cities like Beijing and Shanghai.
Though already walking on the Main Street USA in Disneyland on Monday morning, Miss Gao and her nine friends from the northwestern province of Shangxi were still in a loss of what to see.
Asked what's their impression of the world-famous park, Gao and her friend said they were just beginning to feel it.
They actually turned the interview into a consultation. With Miss Gao spreading the map of Disneyland, the group of middle-aged mainland tourists asked Xinhua reporter which were the most popular sites in the park and what those tongue-twisting words such as "Buzz Light year Astro Blasters" and "Space Mountain" stood for.
Getting the mainland people acquainted with the so-called Disney culture has become the top agenda of the Disneyland "golden week".
Beginning with the week, the park started giving free leaflets introducing the park's facilities in simplified Chinese and running its two Broadway-style show with simplified Chinese subtitles.
The new measures were results of two recent whirlwind trips to the mainland by the executive vice-president Bill Ernest. The trip was aimed to found out how the mainland market reacted to the brand after the Chinese New Year incident.
However, Ernest admitted that it would be a long-term and complicated task to win the recognition of the Disney culture.
"It is all about awareness-building," he told reporters at an empty Chinese restaurant in the park over lunch time on Monday.
"We need to tell them the stories....If they don't understand the stories, they don't understand the themes."