Hong Kong Disneyland celebrates inclusivity on the 30th International Day of Persons with Disabilities

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  • Parade featured wheelchair dancers and basketball players and integrated sign language to advocate for accessibility
  • ‘Disney is tailor-made for the disabled as its barrier-free facilities are more advanced than other places’, one performer said
Sue Ng |
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An inclusive parade featuring over 100 talented people of all abilities was held at Hong Kong Disneyland just in time for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

An inclusive parade featuring more than 100 people of diverse abilities took place at Hong Kong Disneyland last Saturday in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities.

The event, named “Wondrous Dancing for All”, featured performers from the theme park as well as wheelchair dancers from the Hong Kong Wheelchair Dance Sport Association, wheelchair basketball players from the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth, and a taekwondo team from the SAHK.

It also invited three people with hearing impairments to integrate sign language into the dance movements to advocate for inclusivity and accessibility. It was the park’s first parade with theatrical interpretation.

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Lana Wong, director of communications and public affairs at the park, said the parade – now in its second year – wanted to help people showcase their talents.

“Last year, we partnered with different local communities to run the first inclusive parade, and it went great,” said Wong. “This year, in time for the 30th anniversary of the Day, we wanted a bigger performance. In addition, we wanted to raise awareness of the needs of people with disabilities and the importance of inclusion.”

Among the performers was Kitty Hui, a wheelchair basketball player from the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth.

Kitty Hui (right), part of the wheelchair basketball team with the Hong Kong Federation of Handicapped Youth, praised the park for its accessible facilities. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

“It was my first time coming to Disneyland as a performer, and I am so honoured and thrilled to be invited to this event,” said Hui, who choreographed the freestyle wheelchair dance in the parade.

“We [the basketball team] were all very nervous as we only know how to play basketball. But luckily, I was a wheelchair dancer in secondary school, so I volunteered to help with the dance movements.”

The performance took Hui and her team more than a month to prepare, and they even dropped their weekly basketball training to practise. “We have that sportsmanship, so the performance turned out OK,” said the mother of two, who has visited the park with her children.

“Disney is tailor-made for the disabled as its barrier-free facilities are more advanced than other places. So we can freely enter different places with our families,” said Hui.

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“In toilets and restaurants, we can enter from the front entrance like everyone else. And I can also enjoy the gaming facilities with my kids, like the Winnie the Pooh and Ironman rides. These are experiences that other places cannot offer.”

Honouring its achievements in accessibility, the park has been added to the Hong Kong Council of Social Service’s (HKCSS) “List of Barrier-Free Companies”.

Apart from its facilities, this year the park also launched an arts accessibility pilot programme to incorporate sign language into its signature live musicals, catering to people with hearing difficulties.

Wheelchair dancers and basketball players took part in the parade. Photo: Xiaomei Chen

“The responses to the sign language interpretation have been overwhelmingly positive, especially from local community organisations … not many corporations in Hong Kong provide such services given the lack of resources and manpower. They believe that our programme can take a leading role,” said Wong.

The park has also collaborated with NGOs to provide a “Barrier-Free Ambassadors Training Program” to help staff members better understand the needs of guests with disabilities and how to best assist them.

“We are also thinking if there is anything more we can do for those with special needs, such as autism, to enhance their entertainment experience. We hope our cast members can learn more about the diverse needs people have,” Wong said.

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To mark the 30th anniversary of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Disneyland is donating more than 10,000 park tickets to people with disabilities for a second year through HKCSS and the Hong Kong Joint Council for People with Disabilities (HKJCPD).

Benny Cheung, chairperson of HKJCPD, expressed gratitude for the park’s sponsorship. “The move gives disabled people from [low-income] families a chance to visit the park and experience its barrier-free facilities. It would be a special experience for them,” he said, urging the government to provide more support and community events to support the development of people with disabilities.

“We are part of society. What we need is opportunities, not pity. It’s a society for all, and we hope Hong Kong can be a more inclusive and happier place for everyone.”

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