Jiminy Cricket! Beetles invade Disney

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 July, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 July, 2005, 12:00am

Despite infestation of wood-eating bugs, the park insists hotels will open on time

Disney insisted yesterday its main theme park hotel would open on schedule in September despite reports that wood-munching beetles have infested some rooms.

The bugs reportedly have been found in more than 100 rooms in the Disneyland hotel during the past two months, eating through television cabinets, wooden beds and coffee tables. It is understood furniture has been stripped from rooms and replaced ahead of the September 12 grand opening.

It is suspected the beetles were introduced to the 400-room hotel after burrowing into some of the furniture, imported from various mainland suppliers.

The species has not been identified but the chief suspect is the Asian long-horned beetle, a wood-eating insect exported in mainland shipments that has infested many countries, including the US. Disney refused to confirm or deny reports of the infestation yesterday and would not confirm that long-horned beetles were involved. However, it said everything was being done to ensure that the Disneyland hotel's rooms were ready for the park's opening.

'We always strive for top quality in our projects and we also have very stringent quality control procedures in place. We will ensure that we deliver a high standard to our guests,' a spokeswoman said.

'We work closely with the suppliers to ensure these high standards are met. In any case, the hotel is not open until September.'

Hong Kong-based architect and amateur entomologist Christophe Barthelemey, who is writing a book on the city's insects, said the beetles would almost certainly have infested the hotel inside furniture and they were likely to be long-horned beetles.

Their presence indicated that 'green wood' had been used that had not been properly dried and treated before being cut and manufactured, he said.

'Disney should sack the [furniture] contractor because this means it wasn't properly made. These beetles dig substantially big tunnels and the manufacturers should have noticed them when they were cutting the wood.'

He said there were other beetle species that infested wooden furniture after it had been produced, but manufacturers should have a checking process to prevent infested wood being sent out.

'The only way to get rid of the beetles is to get rid of the furniture because you don't know how deep the infestation is inside the wood until you cut it open. If you don't deal with it quickly, they can spread fast and you can end up with a big infestation which you cannot control. It could extend beyond the hotel,' said Mr Barthelemey.

The spokeswoman said there was no doubt the two hotels would open on time, with all rooms available. A Disney source said the situation was 'well under control'.