SCMP, December 13, 2002 By Stella Lee Disney is to launch a search for a Hong Kong 'Mulan' to play a starring role in the SAR theme park, which will be the first worldwide to feature the Chinese heroine. Visitors would be able to meet the legendary female warrior - the subject of an animated Disney movie in 1998 - in Fantasyland, one of the four major sections of the park and home to other characters. In addition to Fantasyland, the other theme areas will be Main Street USA, Adventureland and Tomorrowland. Tom Morris, vice-president and executive producer for Hong Kong Disneyland, said the company was looking to select a local girl to play Mulan. He said Mulan would be multi-lingual, just like her fellow Disney characters - who also might not be played by Westerners, he added. When asked what the selection criteria for the Mulan character would be, Mr Morris was quick in switching to Disney's long-standing official line on questions about its cast members. 'All characters are real anyway. They're real people,' he said, before suggesting it was too early to go into more detail. The film Mulan was a box-office flop on the mainland - a failure that Xinhua news agency attributed to the character's 'foreign look'. The film is based on the tale of a heroine during the Sui Dynasty 1,300 years ago, Hua Mulan, who disguises herself as a man to replace her sick and aged father in the imperial army to fight the invading hordes of Huns. The future Mulan will be among characters meeting guests at specially designated gazebos in Fantasyland. At other Disney theme parks, the characters roam around and guests who want to take a picture with them have to take their chances of meeting them. 'All of our visitors want to have a personal encounter with the characters. Thus we want to guarantee that they would have a turn with them,' Mr Morris said. Other characters in the gazebos will include Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Winnie the Pooh, the Little Mermaid and Snow White. Mr Morris said if the idea proved successful, it would be extended to other Disney parks in future. Disney spokeswoman Irene Chan Man-tuen yesterday reiterated that in all likelihood, a second park in China would not be opened before 2010 as the establishment of Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005-06 was now the company's focus. While Ms Chan refused to comment on any threat posed to the Hong Kong park by Shanghai's plan to build China's first Universal Studios theme park by 2006, she said: 'We've never been so confident [as now] about the success of Hong Kong Disneyland.' Construction of Hong Kong Disneyland is due to begin on January 12. A set of four Disney stamps will also be issued to commemorate the event. Glossary warrior (n) a soldier; a person who engages in warfare switch (v) to change; to shift from one to another flop (n) a complete failure disguise (v) to hide one's true identity gazebos (n) a freestanding, roofed structure which provides shade for visitors roam around (v) to walk around without particular purpose Discussion points - Have you heard the story of Mulan? Can you use five adjectives to describe her? - Now for each of the adjectives, try to tell a short story to illustrate what it means (of course, you cannot tell the Mulan story again). - Have you seen the cartoon Mulan? Does the animation match the image of Mulan in your mind? How different or close are they?