After six years of often controversial negotiations, planning and building, Hong Kong today officially opens its Disney theme park, becoming only the third site outside the US to host Mickey Mouse. Between 16,000 and 17,000 paying customers - just over half the capacity - are expected to pour into the park from 1pm. Tour operators do not expect a large contingent of visitors from the mainland. Yesterday was a day of fine-tuning for Disney officials and staff, with more than 10,000 invited guests and media sampling the park's attractions, restaurants and shops. The day was marred only by some minor hiccups and a noisy protest. The month-long rehearsals have been plagued by long queues and waiting times to attractions - problems that are likely to continue, especially at peak times such as the Mid-Autumn Festival next weekend and the National Day break next month. The 126-hectare theme park cost $27 billion to build and is projected to generate $148 billion for the local economy over the next four decades. It is being viewed as a gauge of the mainland's receptiveness to the US entertainment giant, which is keen to expand its merchandise, TV and movie business in China. 'The operations are fine. We're making some final adjustments,' a Disney official told Financial Secretary Henry Tang Ying-yen as he toured the park. Guests were ushered out at 3pm yesterday to prepare for last night's gala concert and the 'Disney in the Stars' fireworks display at the Sleeping Beauty Castle. The concert, with Hong Kong Disneyland spokesman Jacky Cheung Hok-yau topping the bill, was attended by Mr Tang, economic development minister Stephen Ip Shu-kwan and other top officials, guests and celebrities. Other performers included Eason Chan Yik-shun, Coco Lee and Joey Yung, while those spotted in the audience included singer Kenny B. Guests also made their way to Tomorrowland for a final late-night ride on Space Mountain, which was suspended for about 30 minutes yesterday morning due to a lighting problem. The theme park opens today with an official ceremony at 11.30am. The gates will be open to the public at 1pm.