The slow start may be a good thing. Reports of overcrowding, given the park's lack of rides and attractions, have already started to make the rounds after the park's special guest preview openings.
That's why, on second thought, we probably won't know much come Monday. Disney's parks have often had some bumpy starts before going on to recover nicely. The original Disneyland suffered plumbing problems when it opened 50 years ago. When EPCOT opened in Florida, guests complained that there was a lack of Disney characters around. Disney's last three stateside openings suffered from guest complaints over a lack of attractions on opening day, something that to this day finds those three gated attractions performing worse than Disney's first three parks.
However, what Disney is truly hoping for is that the new Hong Kong park doesn't become Disneyland Paris. Operating missteps, including overestimating the area's appetite for Mickey-sized Americana, have produced a rocky tenure for Disney's resort in France. Hong Kong Disneyland will pose cultural changes, but at least the locals seem to be welcoming its new neighbor, with plenty of on-site weddings booked and its two hotels ready to house overnight guests.
Then again, Hong Kong Disneyland will be about far more than the turnstile clicks. Most of mainland China's 1.3 billion residents simply can't afford a day at the park anyway. However, by playing itself up as a good commercial citizen, Disney is looking to endear itself to the world as the global leader in family entertainment.
That's important because the potential is huge, especially as China and its paltry per capita annual income of $1,300 improve. If things go well, Disney plans to dig deeper into the region with a second park in Shanghai.
China's fortunes have improved since Disney broke ground in January of 2003. Well, at least the shares of the few Chinese portals that traded publicly at the time have fared well.
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Nine months ago, Shanda Interactive
This doesn't mean that Hong Kong Disneyland will be served well in tacking Internet cafes to its resort. However, it does mean launching a Chinese version of its cool Virtual Magic Kingdom would be a great move. It would certainly beat doing something globally upsetting. You know, like hitting up The9
So here's to Hong Kong Disneyland. May any early complaints next week be eventually drowned out by the roar of the potential for brand ambassadorship in the world's most populous nation.
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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz won't be heading out to Hong Kong for the opening, though he is at the domestic Disney parks often and even owns shares of Disney. He recommended NetEase.com to Rule Breakers subscribers. It is trading 47% higher today. T he Fool has a disclosure policy. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.