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Disney opens its first theme park in China
Updated: 2005-09-12 14:51

HONG KONG - Disney officially opened its newest theme park in Hong Kong, its first step into the lucrative China market.

Some 2,500 dignitaries and guests were on hand, including Chinese Vice President Zeng Qinghong, Hong Kong leader Donald Tsang, Walt Disney Company CEO Michael Eisner and company president Robert Iger.

Disney characters and dragon dance performance are seen in front of the Sleeping Beauty Castle during the opening ceremony of Hong Kong Disneyland September 12, 2005. [Reuters]
The ceremony opening the US$3.5-billion park kicked off with a traditional Chinese lion dance in the forecourt of Sleeping Beauty Castle.

The Hong Kong government, which chipped in 1.8 billion Hong Kong dollars of the construction cost and owns a half-share of equity in the project, is hoping the park will spur local tourism and bring in more than 100 billion dollars over the next 40 years.

The attraction and its two resort hotels are surrounded by mountains on lush Lantau Island, just 30 minutes away by subway from bustling central Hong Kong. It looks much like the first Disneyland in California, with a Space Mountain thrill ride, a classic Cinderella Carousel and a pink Sleeping Beauty Castle -- which Disney predicts will be one of the most photographed buildings in Asia.

Hong Kong's government says the attraction will help turn this global financial capital into Asia's best family holiday spot.
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