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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Hong Kong Comeback For Mickey and Minnie

HONG KONG -- Bye bye Hello Kitty - Hong Kong's latest cartoon craze is Mickey and Minnie Mouse and their gang of Disney pals.

Disney frenzy has swept Hong Kong since the southern Chinese city struck a deal in November with U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney Co. to build a Disneyland park.

It will be Disney's second theme park in Asia and its fifth worldwide. The government expects the project to boost economic growth by 0.4 percent a year from its first year of operation in 2005.

The Disney deal has sparked a Hong Kong comeback for Mickey and Minnie, who had taken a back seat in recent years to the craze for Japanese cartoon characters.

Shops have jumped on the bandwagon and are promoting an array of products with the Disney characters, and newspapers have taken to splashing catchy advertisements for Disney items.

Newspapers have also drafted in the Disney characters to help lampoon government figures and projects.

"We launched new Mickey products after the announcement of the theme park project," said Monica Yeung, marketing manager at jewelry shop Just Gold Ltd., which holds a license for Mickey Mouse jewelry in Hong Kong.

"The response has been pretty good," she said. "The announcement to build a Disney park helps all licensees of Mickey products."

Promotional flyers for English-language teaching kits embellished with Disney cartoons have been mailed to thousands of households.

Tour operators are running trips to Penny's Bay in Lantau Island, a sparsely populated cove with a cluster of boat yards, where the Disney park will be built.

"Now that they say they're going to build a Disneyland there, I'm going to take a look," said a man on a boat heading for Penny's Bay.

Together with local television station Television Broadcasts Ltd., or TVB, Walt Disney Television International (Asia Pacific) will soon launch a program showcasing Disney animation.

But not every opportunist trying to capitalize on the Disney deal has struck lucky.

"The response is not as good as expected," said Tsui, a saleswoman at a gift shop which recently launched a promotion on selected Disney items.

A recent survey conducted by the Ming Pao Daily News showed more than 80 percent of Hong Kong people would like to visit the Disneyland park when it is completed.

But about half the respondents thought the projected adult admission fee, of 250 to 300 Hong Kong dollars ($32 to $38), was too high. The estimated child rate has yet to be announced.

Yet children don't mind paying the entrance fee.

"I'll start saving money now. I believe I'll have enough money to pay the entrance fee in five years' time," said Chan Po-sang, a 12-year-old girl.

Mrs. Yu, an illiterate with a small daughter, is also looking forward to the Hong Kong Disneyland.

"As I'm an illiterate, I can't take my small daughter to the Disney theme parks in the United States," she said.

"That's why I support the government's plan to build a Disneyland here. Then I'll be able to take my daughter there.

"The admission fee of several hundred [Hong Kong] dollars is nothing compared with the price of an air ticket," she said.