Anyone caught up in the rain and near-capacity crowds to get a sneak preview of Disneyland yesterday may well have been wondering what was so magical about the experience. With long waits to get onto MTR trains, through the entrance gates, onto rides and into restaurants, it was obvious that there was no fairy godmother in residence at the Sleeping Beauty castle to make everything run smoothly. There may have even been some people wondering what Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Buzz Lightyear and their fellow Disney pals had done with the $27 billion invested in the project, the majority by Hong Kong taxpayers. Those who made it home late with tired children, unused to waiting for two hours for a few minutes of fun with Winnie the Pooh, may well have been considering giving the theme park a miss after it is officially opened on September 12. People with lesser expectations of the first big trial run for Hong Kong Disneyland were not so critical. They enjoyed the colour and sounds of the Disney experience which, for the first time, has been given Chinese characteristics. From the as-American-as-apple-pie Main Street to the futuristic thrill of Space Mountain, it was, in their minds, exactly the international attraction Hong Kong has been sorely lacking and has finally attained. The mixed first impressions of Disneyland are a continuation of arguments raging since the project was announced six years ago. While the government and its backers believe the economic benefits for Hong Kong are well worth the financial outlay, some economists are sceptical that the returns will be as healthy as has been forecast. In an era where entertainment expectations are getting ever higher, some doubt whether Mickey Mouse has the appeal to pull in the $148 billion the government has predicted he will over the next 40 years. Whether Disneyland's figure of an extra 3.6 million tourists in the first year and 7.4 million annually after 15 years is accurate is disputed, as is expectation that the visitors will be big spenders. Although 5,000 new jobs have been created at the park and another 13,000 are expected to result from related infrastructure, such as hotels, there is debate about how sound such figures are. The jobs, it is pointed out, are not highly paid. Then there are the contentions that not enough hotel rooms are planned, that Hong Kong cannot cope with the influx of visitors and that our image will not benefit much from yet another Disneyland, when more are planned for elsewhere in Asia. Whatever the arguments, they are now moot - Disneyland is ready for business and now knows what teething problems to correct. Whether we patronise it or not, others will, just as they do by the tens of thousands at the company's theme parks elsewhere in the world. Besides, we should look at this from a child's point of view - no price can be put on excitement, pleasure and family togetherness.