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HK Disneyland starting to take shape
Updated: 2004-09-24 15:39

Workers used a crane to put a mock turret atop the castle at Hong Kong Disneyland on Thursday, giving locals their best look yet at the theme park intended to boost tourism revenues when it opens.

Workers assemble the top of a Disney castle at a tourist attraction in Hong Kong September 23, 2004. The Hong Kong Disneyland project will be one of the main tourist sights in the territory, which began construction in January 2003, with the project scheduled to open in late 2005 or early 2006. [Reuters]
The main structure of Sleeping Beauty's castle was complete once the trademark blue pointed turret was installed at a ceremony attended by invited guests and journalists who were allowed onto the park site for the first time to view the construction.

The castle will be the centerpiece of the Disney park and spokeswoman Esther Wong called the completion of the roof "a significant milestone." The ceremony featured fireworks and confetti and obligatory appearances by Disney characters including Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck.

"This day marks an important step forward in a partnership with Hong Kong that continues to connect people across generations and cultures to the magic of Disneyland," said Jay Rasulo, Walt Disney's parks and resorts president.

Wong said Disney was in the process of hiring 750 people and 500 of them will be trained in the United States for jobs at the park.

Disney broke ground in January 2003 for the theme park that is intended to draw thousands of visitors to Hong Kong, particularly from Chinese mainland. It is set to open in late 2005 or early 2006.

The $3.5 billion project is being financed mostly by Hong Kong taxpayers, and has come under some fire from critics who questioned whether the territory got a good deal.

The Hong Kong government has contended its investment will pay off in the long run by boosting tourism and employment in the former British colony, which has suffered through several years of economic troubles but lately has enjoyed solid growth.

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