A whole new world as Disney focuses on charming locals

Top News | Carine Chow 3 May 2021

Hong Kong Disneyland will launch a daytime stage show against the backdrop of its new castle this summer as local visitors become more important during the pandemic.

The managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, Michael Moriarty, said the park has no plans to join the "vaccine bubble" yet and it is voluntary for staff to get inoculated. And those who would like to receive the jabs may do so during office hours.

Speaking at a media gathering, Moriarty said the new show would be set against the Castle of Magical Dreams, which opened in November after a two-year transformation from being the home of Sleeping Beauty. The show will include special water effects and fireworks. Disney is also planning to organize special events during holidays and a pop-up store will be set at Times Square from May 7 to July 4.

Moriarty said his team is planning to provide something different to attract locals.

"The local community is integral to the success of the park," he added.

During the Easter holiday this year, the park saw the number of local visitors hit a 10-year high, Moriarty said, without revealing the number.

Local tourists accounted for 30 to 40 percent of visitors in the past. However, as Hongkongers have nowhere to go under travel restrictions a lot more people sought entertainment within the city and visited Disneyland during the Easter break.

Disneyland reopened on February 19 after the previous Covid-19 wave subsided. Since then, the park in Lantau has been operating at 50 percent capacity. It is open five days a week, except for public holiday periods.

From last Thursday, restaurants across the city have been allowed to seat six diners per table - up from four - if all of their staff get vaccinated and if their customers use the LeaveHomeSafe app.

But Moriarty said Disneyland has no plans to require its employees to get jabs in exchange for relaxed requirements in restaurants. Its workers, however, need to take Covid-19 tests every 14 days.

Restaurants at the park are sticking to the previous cap of seating four people at each table and operating until 10 pm.

Moriarty said Disneyland is looking forward to welcoming tourists again with the launch of travel bubbles.

The bubble between Singapore and Hong Kong is set to start on May 26. Flights in the first two weeks of the launch have been fully booked so far.

He said the park has invested HK$1.3 million in the "Sports for All" program of the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth Momentum Academy, which aims at promoting diversity and inclusion in the community by holding sports events for the handicapped.

The program began in September 2019 and has organized more than 100 events, such as floor curling and yoga classes. It will release a series of videos on social media to promote simple exercises and the concept of disability inclusion.

Disney volunteers also took part in a training program organized by the federation, learning how to help and take care of the disabled.

carine.chow@singtaonewscorp.com



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