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China Disney Celebrates Grand Opening

  • By Biff Yeager
  • 06.18.2003
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Mass looting and riots erupted Tuesday in what Chinese officials call their most successful, and only, Western theme park opening ever. Spokesmen for Disney Enterprises Inc described the opening as "a landmark event with minimal loss of life on both sides."

The park, which opened Tuesday on the western edge of Shanghai, is the result of over ten years of negotiation and construction. The grand opening drew over 100,000 tourists, or .0017 percent of the country's population. Ninety park employees and visitors died throughout the day, and 300 people were wounded while waiting in line outside Splash Mountain.

In the coming months we hope to cut the park’s mortality rate in half and add three new attractions, including the tea cups.

"Our mission for China Disney is to maximize fun and minimize casualties," said park manager Hsue Tsien. "The crowds get a bit grumpy when the lines get too long, but that happens in any theme park. In the coming months we hope to cut the park's mortality rate in half and add three new attractions, including the tea cups."

Not everyone shares Disney's pleasure, though. Many Shanghai officials see the park as an unnecessary Western perk and a health hazard for employees and visitors alike.

"You don't just dress a man up as a giant, succulent rat and parade him around downtown Shanghai," admonished tourism minister Zhou Li. "Someone is bound to get hurt."

Aside from the tragic dismemberment of more than half a dozen of their popular costume characters, Disney reports lights casualties for the first few days of operation.

"We lost about fifteen crew members out of 500, so that's not too shabby," said Tsien. "Our floats also inadvertently crushed a few protestors during the Parade of Lights, but you must understand the amount of time and energy it takes to stop those things once they get going."

Disney officials admit that their newest park still needs some fine-tuning. Sources close the park's operation believe that culture shock is the park's only setback.

"We were pretty shocked when they tore down Cinderella's castle as a symbol of Western opulence," said one insider, "but their embrace of the Small World ride is truly extraordinary. They see all these countries with so few people and they think it's an escapist fantasy."

Disney officials attribute the park's opening day success to its novelty and cheap ticket prices. Admission to the park is inexpensive compared to its American counterparts, and the park offers deep discounts on week days.

"Monday through Thursday we let families with up to two children into the park at half price," Tsien said. "Families with three or more children, of course, are arrested on sight."

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