Walt Disney

Lai See

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 June, 2006, 12:00am


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There's no taking the Mickey when education is spelled fun 101

Giving new meaning to the phrase Mickey Mouse degree, Disney's university is fun 101.

Laden with textbooks - the Donald Duck pop-up books, the $30,000 children's English instruction DVD and the Snow White doll for good luck - Lai See was privileged to join an orientation class for its new cast members (the Disney way of saying frontline staff), bringing back a flood of golden memories from his kindergarten days.

A dozen teenagers just out of high school sat in a mini classroom, listening to a short history of the Walt Disney family followed by a quiz (with small Disney gifts as prizes) and a discussion on some of the more creative ways of serving David Beckham on a trip to Hong Kong Disneyland.

Learning is serious fun too

The serious learning, however, came in the interactive lecture on how to remember the names of the thousands of Disney characters, as well as their distinguishing colours and features.

Students were free to hug Winnie the Pooh and Tigger.

The classes form part of a two-week programme that prepares Disney frontline staff for their careers in the Magic Kingdom.

Lai See has heard that the Hong Kong training programme is more comprehensive than at other Disney parks since Disney offers most of its job opportunities to school leavers.

As one can imagine, the staff response to this training programme has been overwhelming, according to a couple of Lai See acquaintances, which perhaps explains why Disney people are so keen on the park's service culture that their managers volunteer to help out on the merchandising counters once in a while.

Spin doctor to work Disney magic

Even Mickey Mouse needs a spin doctor from time to time and who better than the king of spin from the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which has one of the largest local marketing and public relations departments.

This week, Hong Kong Disneyland appointed Lo Bing-chung as vice president of public affairs. Mr Lo was a PR consultant for Jockey Club and spent 15 years with Coca-Cola.

He replaces Irene Chan, who continues to work for the Disney International Development team as a consultant in Beijing, completing a shake-up among the Mickey Mouse PR team.

Matter of timing for Shui On Land

If the bull run had just come a day earlier, then perhaps Vincent Lo Hong-sui would not have postponed his listing for Shui On Land.

But one source close to the deal told Lai See an interesting fung shui story that may go some way to explaining why the mainland property play failed.

'They give us a complimentary clock,' the source said.

The clock is normally the last thing to be presented as a gift in Chinese culture since it means 'the end'.

Oh well ... if one door shuts, then another one opens. Vincent's brother Lo Yuk-sui yesterday said his firm's Regal Hotels International Holdings was still on track for its reit spin-off.

Good luck to the Lo family's eldest brother.

SFC says five-day week will work

The Securities and Futures Commission is the latest group of securities experts to enjoy a longer and more relaxing weekend.

The regulator yesterday issued the happy news that the majority of its operations - with the exception of the investor hotline and reception - would follow a five-day work week next month.

According to its new timetable, the watchdog will be open from 9am to 6pm, Monday to Thursday but will sign off 45 minutes earlier on Friday at 5:15pm.

Chairman Martin Wheatley said while the total number of working hours would remain unchanged, he expected productivity to remain the same or perhaps even to improve as a result of enhanced morale.

'A five-day week is considered an attractive working condition as it facilitates a balance between work and leisure,' said Mr Wheatley. 'It may assist in the SFC's staff retention and recruitment.'

Hopefully someone will be motivated to take up the chairmanship of the SFC soon.