Before Hong Kong Disneyland opened last year, planners were careful to design the park according to the principles of feng shui, placing objects in harmony with their environment. They made sure to offer Chinese food. And they built a garden of costumed characters to satisfy the Chinese obsession with taking photos.
Then the best-laid plans went awry.
A visitor hugs Mickey Mouse after the grand opening of Hong Kong Disneyland in September 2005. Park officials say they had slightly more than 5 million visitors in the first year, just short of the 5.6 million goal.
A charity event before the official opening was chaotic and overcrowded. Local celebrities were offended by rude treatment during opening celebrations. Health officials were barred from entering the park in uniform. Environmentalists protested against shark-fin soup on the menus.
It was only the beginning of a very rocky start for Disney, during which it was accused of arrogance and insensitivity by its visitors. Although the company has subsequently received favorable reviews, the early experience has raised questions about its ability to operate effectively in this culture, as well as concerns about what will happen when the company opens its first park on the mainland, in Shanghai, in a few years.
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