Date
16 January 2017
Long queues of people wait outside the gate of Shanghai Disneyland. Mickey Mouse and Minnie already had callers even before the theme park officially opened. Photos: Reuters, Xinhua
Long queues of people wait outside the gate of Shanghai Disneyland. Mickey Mouse and Minnie already had callers even before the theme park officially opened. Photos: Reuters, Xinhua

What if we actually lived in Disneyland?

Imagine being caught up in the swirl of Shanghai Disneyland.

That’s how you begin to understand the frenzy around Disney’s newest theme park.

In the weeks before its June 16 opening, state media reported that millions of people had visited it, although they went no farther than the gate.

Then came the news that mainlanders are no longer keen to visit Hong Kong Disneyland.

Who can blame them if their own version of the Magic Kingdom is three times as big as ours and with more rides and attractions?

To be honest, I was quietly rooting for a successful launch of Shanghai Disneyland, so I was relieved when it came to pass.

Did I wish they offered baby formula? I might have in my eagerness to wish them luck.

My first encounter with the theme park came by word of mouth.

Friends who have been there told me how “brilliant” it was, not the kind of review you’d get from a true-blue fan but it was good enough for me.

It got me thinking about the people who will actually go there.

Chinese tourists have been responsible for a lot of foot traffic to Disney’s only two other theme parks in Asia — those in Hong Kong and Tokyo.

There have been reports of bad behavior by these visitors.

Now that the mainlanders have their very own Cinderella Castle, Mickey House, Tarzan Tree House etc., will they be more mindful of their manners?

I personally don’t resent them. In fact, I often go out of my way to help. It is common courtesy to let every visitor feel welcome.

On the other hand, I don’t want to see Hong Kong overrun with tourists.

That’s not to say we are perfect.

I have a problem with rude and inconsiderate Hong Kong shopkeepers who do nothing but contribute to their own demise and hurt Hong Kong in the process.

It’s amusing to hear Hong Kong being described as having the “worst time” or the “coldest winter” when you think back to those boom years not too long ago.

What happened?

To be fair, Hong Kong retailers are not immune to the vagaries of the business cycle.

Some have expanded their business too much too quickly. Others have simply lost their way.

As a Hongkonger, my wish list is short and modest — clean streets, smaller shops, lower rent, more discipline.

I have the same simple hopes for other cities.

We can’t live in Disneyland but we can make the best of what we have.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on June 18

Translation by Darlie Yiu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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DY/RA

HKEJ columnist

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