Saturday 13 June 2009

Nevermind the Swine Flu; Opportunity Knocks

I mentioned before that I consider Hong Kong Disneyland to be up there as “Hong Kong’s most hilarious theme park”, along with the Noah’s Ark zone. The Disneyland management team is certainly doing its utmost to maintain my low opinion of them!

We should perhaps be grateful that the Noah’s Ark management team led by lawyer Moses Cheng is not yet up to speed, seemingly lacking business experience in spotting the opportunity to exploit Hong Kong kids who are on early leave. But give them time, I suppose. Their ultimate goal is after all (like Disneyland) to brainwash young minds to their own worldview.

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References (SCMP; Hong Kong Standard)

Health officials slam Disneyland over primary promotion

Timothy Chui (Hong Kong Standard)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Hong Kong Disneyland has come under fire from medical chiefs for offering primary school children unlimited visits for a special price during their enforced holidays.

From noon today until the end of the month, primary school children will be able to make as many visits as they like for just HK$250.

A spokeswoman said Disneyland's special offer is in response to the two-week suspension of classes and to help children fill in the time.

However, the offer runs against the advice of Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung who, in announcing school closures, also told parents to exercise discretion when taking their children to public areas.

Health chief York Chow Yat-ngok was more direct.

"We have told Disney they should not use this moment to promote businesses. Our decision to suspend classes is to let the children stay at home instead of going out for fun. Children should try to stay home as much as possible," Chow said.

"Should they go out, they should avoid places which are crowded. If parents decide to take their children to playgrounds, they should be sure their children are healthy without symptoms.

"However, [Disney] should not give people any incentive [to bring their children there] - we have made our stance very clear to Disney."

The special offer has also attracted the ire of Hong Kong Medical Association chairman Tse Hung-hing.

"[Disney] is not responding to what is being proposed by the government. This is not going to help in the prevention of the spread of swine flu," Tse said. He said the company is "not acting properly" but stopped short of calling the move irresponsible saying it is not responsible for public health.

A Disney spokeswoman said the promotion would go ahead as planned.

The theme park's 400-member hygiene team would guarantee cleanliness and touch- screen surfaces and exhibits will be sanitized every half an hour. Guests will be required to fill in health declaration forms.

She said a theme park survey found 98 percent of respondents satisfied with hygiene conditions.

A spokeswoman for Ocean Park said it has no plans for any school closure promotions.

However, the park will heighten its hygiene alert and there will be health stations where voluntary temperature tests, free masks and alcohol hand sanitizers will be available.

Disneyland accused of flouting health precautions for profit
Dennis Eng and Martin Wong (SCMP)
Jun 12, 2009

Hong Kong Disneyland was accused of putting business interests ahead of public safety yesterday after it seemed to flout a government health measure by launching a ticket promotion for young children, who are at risk of spreading swine flu.

Targeting kindergarten, primary and special-needs schools in Hong Kong, the promotion offers unlimited visits to the theme park from today until June 30 for just HK$250. This is the usual price for one-day admission for children between three and 11 years old.

The government has closed such schools for two weeks in a bid to contain swine flu.

"We have already informed Disney that it should not make use of this opportunity to do such a promotion," Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said. "Closing the schools does not mean that they are on holiday and can go outside and play. As I have said, they should try to stay at home. If they go out, they should avoid crowded places."

A Hong Kong Disneyland spokesman said the tickets would go on sale today.

"Hong Kong Disneyland Resort has many open areas planted with over a million trees, which allow guests to enjoy fresh air," he said.

"The safety of our guests and cast members is always our top priority."

But Hong Kong Medical Association president Tse Hung-hing said the promotion was "improper" and went against government policy. "There are a lot of opportunities for indirect contact at the theme park, like holding on to handrails, taking a seat on a ride, queuing up and using utensils. Also, not all areas are open, so this argument is simply not sound," he said. "And what do trees have to do with human swine flu? Having trees does not mean you are free of it."

Democratic lawmaker Fred Li Wah-ming called on the government to halt the promotion and warned of dire consequences if people became infected with swine flu at the park.

Education Secretary Michael Suen Ming-yeung said: "The whole point of suspending classes is to ensure that there is no congregation of young children, as very often it is not easy for them to look after themselves or to take care of their own personal hygiene. We should make sure that there is no congregation of young children in large numbers.

"So my advice to parents is that they should try as far as possible not to bring their children to places where there are large numbers of children, such as playgrounds and shopping malls."

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