Hong Kong Disneyland has shown some recent success in growing its attendance numbers by selling the Chinese on what they already know — their own culture. Year of the Rat Mouse and Chairman Mickey have been two successful promotions for the struggling park.
Now the park has finally managed to open what could be a major attraction, “it’s a small world”. With its message of world peace and unity, “it’s a small world” seems particularly fitting with the Olympics opening up just down the road in Beijing. But instead of letting the attraction stand on its merits, Disney has decided to turn it into a carnival game of “Where’s Mickey” by hiding 38 Disney characters throughout the attraction.
They’re not so much hiding them as just dropping them into scenes with no contribution to the attraction’s storyline, and often no semblance of appropriateness (Pocahontas in the Canadian Rockies, anyone?). But hey, when you’re desperate, why not fall back on what works… because you know, the reason HKDL has been doing so well these past few years is due to all the familiarity locals have with Disney characters. Oh wait, that’s the reason it hasn’t been doing well.
Maybe this is Disney’s homage to the Maoist forced re-education camps. “Can you name all 38 of the Disney characters found inside? No? Well then back inside until you find them all.”