Disney turns to steam power with dim sum offering

PUBLISHED : Friday, 04 July, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 04 July, 2003, 12:00am

Mickey Mouse may hail from the land of hamburgers and hotdogs, but when he makes his debut in Hong Kong, he will be serving up dim sum.

Don Robinson, managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland, said the $22 billion theme park planned to increase its allure to locals by offering the cuisine - a first for any of the Disney parks around the world.

'We want to ensure that our park respects local culture and we believe that having a dim sum restaurant is one of the best ways of doing this. In Paris, people go for wine for lunch, while in Hong Kong and in the mainland, dim sum is a big favourite,' he said.

Plans to open a dim sum restaurant at Hong Kong Disneyland have also been prompted by forecasts that one-third of the 5.6 million visitors expected to visit the theme park annually are to come from the mainland, he said.

'We're negotiating with Hong Kong restaurants because this is not our expertise,' said Mr Robinson, who will oversee the park's opening late in 2005.

A dim sum fan himself, Mr Robinson said most Walt Disney theme parks offer western food.

Although the park in Orlando, Florida, serves Chinese cuisine, it does not carry dim sum.

Mr Robinson also disclosed Walt Disney's plans to offer 'an introductory or special pricing' offer in the first year of operation. He said: 'We want to make sure it is affordable for families.'

However, details of the special offer have yet to be announced.

In January, Michael Eisner, chairman and chief executive officer of the Walt Disney Company, said rumours of an entrance fee of between $200 and $250 were at the 'high end' of what the company was considering.

That price range would make the Hong Kong entrance fee the world's cheapest for a Disney park.

Mr Robinson said that the Sars outbreak had not affected the construction work at the park site.

Disney would increase its operations staff from the current 45 to 400 by the end of next year, and to 5,000 by the summer of 2005, he said.

He said 90 per cent of the staff would be locally hired.