HONG KONG (September 23, 2004) – Hong Kong Disneyland today celebrated a major milestone in its construction by placing the top-most turret upon the highest tower of Sleeping Beauty Castle in a “Topping Off” ceremony, signaling that the first Disney family vacation destination in China is on schedule to open by late 2005 / early 2006.
Hundreds of Guests including government officials, business and community leaders, and Cast Members — the name for Disney employees — gathered at the Hong Kong Disneyland construction site in Penny’s Bay on Lantau Island for the first time since the Park’s ground-breaking in January 2003 to witness the moment and the “magic at work” within the Park. They were joined by beloved Disney characters Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Donald, Goofy, Chip and Dale; Hong Kong Disneyland spokesperson and entertainer Jacky Cheung; Walt Disney Parks and Resorts President Jay Rasulo; and Hong Kong Disneyland group Managing Director Don Robinson.
“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 Rasulo. “As Walt Disney once said, it all started from a daddy with two daughters who wanted a place where they could have fun together. When it opens, Hong Kong Disneyland will serve as an important gateway for bringing the magic of Disney to families across Asia.”
Rasulo also spoke about the key ingredient that makes every Disney theme park so special: the Disney Difference, which Rasulo described as a combination of “storytelling, creativity and Guest service to create the feeling among our Guests that they’ve been transported to another world filled with magic and wonder.”
The “Topping Off” ceremony showcased the construction of Sleeping Beauty Castle, the iconic landmark in Disneyland, the original park in Southern California that changed the way the world thinks about family vacations. Robinson said the new version of the classic Castle will be the centerpiece of Hong Kong Disneyland.
“Behind me rises our Castle, the most memorable icon of our Park,” Robinson said. “The Castle emblem symbolizes the immersive world that Guests enter inside every Disneyland around the world. Now, Hong Kong has its own Sleeping Beauty Castle, ready to take its place in the hearts and minds of millions.
“We also are extremely excited to partner with the people and government of Hong Kong to build this Disney family destination. Together we will help drive job creation, tourism and economic growth, while creating a magical journey for Hong Kong,” Robinson added.
At the ceremony, Hong Kong Disneyland’s spokesperson, Jacky Cheung, commented on the meaning of the Park’s Castle to the people of Hong Kong. “I still remember seeing the Castle when I first visited Disneyland. Having our own Castle here will bring those same memories to the people of Hong Kong. I can’t wait to share that happy, magical feeling with my daughter.”
A “Topping Off” ceremony is traditionally celebrated when the last structural element is placed on a building, which is a landmark point in the construction process. As Sleeping Beauty Castle was topped with its finial piece, a burst of colorful confetti, fireworks, music and Disney characters, including Mickey Mouse and friends, delighted the crowd.
On Schedule to Open in Late 2005 / Early 2006
The ground breaking took place for Hong Kong Disneyland in January 2003, after the Hong Kong SAR Government had completed land reclamation and preliminary work on infrastructure and the road work. In less than two years, Hong Kong Disneyland, a collaboration between The Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong SAR Government, is starting to take shape – literally. The external structures of many of the attractions and buildings are becoming visible, including Space Mountain, an attraction inside Tomorrowland that will take guests on a whirlwind adventure through space; Plaza Inn, a Chinese restaurant inside Main Street,
U.S.A.; and Orbitron, another exciting attraction in Tomorrowland. The site also has been heavily landscaped, helping to create a Disney-themed environment that transports Guests to a magical world. When Hong Kong Disneyland opens, there will be more than 250,000 annual flowering plants and 15,000 canopy trees. To date, all major contracts for the project have been awarded and opening day is on schedule for late 2005 or early 2006.
Currently, there are approximately 5,000 workers on site, representing a global and experienced team that has worked on some of the largest construction projects in Hong Kong as well as from Walt Disney Imagineering – the design and engineering arm of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. Sculptors, landscapers, painters and other artisans also are working on site to create the Happiest Place on Earth – Hong Kong Disneyland.
In addition to construction work, the Hong Kong Disneyland team is hiring approximately 500 individuals who will soon become the first-generation of Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members. Preparations also are being made on food selections, merchandise and various forms of entertainment that will be available to Guests when the park officially opens its gates.
A Castle – the Heart of Every Disney Theme Park
Sleeping Beauty Castle serves as the centerpiece of Hong Kong Disneyland and is situated at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. – the 19th century American town complete with shopping and dining, designed to take Guests on a journey to a time gone by when the “horseless carriage” was the main mode of transportation. The front of the Castle is called the “Hub” that leads into the three different themed lands filled with adventure and wonder: Adventureland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The first Castle was created when Walt Disney designed the original Disneyland in California, which opened in 1955. From the beginning, Walt wanted a castle in his Park to serve as a soaring central point as his Guests stepped into a magical new world in which the classic Disney stories would come alive. As Walt once said, “Here you leave today – and visit the worlds of yesterday, tomorrow and fantasy.”
Hong Kong Disneyland’s Castle is the only one based on the original look of Disneyland’s Castle in California. Both share the name of “Sleeping Beauty Castle”.
About Hong Kong Disneyland
The Hong Kong Disneyland project was announced in November 1999 as a venture between The Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong SAR Government. With the completion of reclamation for Hong Kong Disneyland Phase I by the Hong Kong SAR Government, Disney began construction in January 2003 with the project scheduled to open in late 2005/ early 2006. The opening day program for Hong Kong Disneyland will include a Disneyland-style theme park and two hotels. The Phase I build-out includes a projected 10 million annual visitor Disneyland-style theme park, 2,100 hotel rooms, and an area for retail, dining and entertainment. The project is estimated to create 18,000 new jobs at opening (both Disney and other employment) growing to 36,000 once the first park reaches build-out. The Hong Kong SAR Government estimated that the first phase of the project will generate a present economic value of HK$148 billion (US$19 billion) in benefits to Hong Kong over a 40-year period. For more information, please refer to the Hong Kong Disneyland website at www.hongkongdisneyland.com.