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Global Disney: The Mouse Marches On

The Disney empire is about to expand again, this time back into Asia, with the opening in 2005 of Hong Kong Disneyland, a joint venture between Disney and the Hong Kong SAR government. 2005 also marks the 50th anniversary of the opening of first Disneyland and promises to be a year of celebration at all Disney theme parks. 2010 will see the opening of Disneyland Shanghai, China and preliminary discussions are underway in Korea for the future creation of a Disneyland in Seoul,

Many of you, adults and children alike, will have visited at least one Disney theme park, but we thought this may be a good time to review your options and see how much Disney bang you get for your buck at each of the locations. Obviously which park you choose to visit will have a lot to do with your budget, where you are located, your willingness to travel or your desire to experience other cultures or attractions whilst on vacation. Many Disney theme parks now consist of a combination of the original Magic Kingdom and additional theme parks and venues.

Anaheim, California

The original Disneyland ( can often appear a little tired compared to its newer counterparts, but current improvements and renovations have made it a likely contender. In the lead up to 50th anniversary celebrations, a new coat of paint is being slapped on and rides and amusements are being restored to their former glory. In the past few years, Disneyland had made alterations to traditional rides in order to make them more politically correct, like the removal of guns from certain Adventure Land amusements and even the end to the spinning of the Mad Hatter's Tea Cup ride. But it seems visitors wanted the experience of their childhood and so these elements are being returned.

To try and alleviate issues regarding long wait times, Disneyland has introduced the free Fastpass reservation system ( Fastpass ticket holders reduce their wait time on rides that use the system, with current wait ranges from five to fifteen minutes depending on the attraction. Obtaining these Fastpass tickets is relatively simple as they are available at distribution centers throughout the park and there is no charge associated with using this service. It does however mean that you may have long lead times between reserved rides so planning your day's itinerary may be less spontaneous.

Admission prices for the Disneyland Park alone are just under $50 for those over ten years of age and just under $40 for children aged three to nine. The park is currently offering $20 off advance purchase 2005 Multi-day (three-, four- and five-day) and Park Hopper tickets that allow you access to the California Adventure park as well. Three-day tickets are $139 for adults over ten and $109 for children.

For more detailed information about Disneyland, California, Disneyworld and all the affiliated US-based theme parks, including climatic conditions, events schedules, and the latest news about closed or new amusements, visit

Orlando, Florida

Currently the most visited of the Disney family of parks (25 million per year), Disney World ( attracts visitors from throughout the US and around the world, partly due to its proximity to a number of other attractions in the Orlando area (including the other Disney parks -- Epcot, Animal Kingdom, Disney-MGM Studios and two Water Parks) and the low-priced accommodation and package options available.

Admission prices are set to rise $5 on January 2, 2005 to just under $60 plus tax for an adult day ticket. A week's admission will cost $199. For children ages three to nine, prices range from $48 for a day to $160 for a week. Floridians are extended a discount and will pay just under $54 for a day ticket. Their Extra Magic Hours plan provides semi-exclusive access to one of Disney's magical theme parks which open one hour early or stay open three hours later so Disney Resort hotel guests can enjoy select attractions (a valid theme park ticket and resort ID are required). Disney's "Magic Your Way" package also offers a "Park Hopper," allowing guests to roam among the four theme parks for an additional $35 fee. Please Note: These prices will not be available to the public until January 2, 2005.

An interesting feature is that guests can board their pets at one of five Walt Disney World Resort Kennel Club facilities. Accommodation is available for critters such as rabbits, ferrets, small rodents, birds and even non-venomous snakes. All cats and dogs have to be at least eight-weeks old and vaccinated to be kenneled. Guests are required to walk their dog at least twice a day or at the Epcot kennel, a dog-walking service is available for $2.50 per walk. Rates range between $6 for day-only to $11 for overnight (or $9 for guests staying a Disney World Resort hotel). Call 407/824-6568 for details.

Paris, France

Disneyland Resort Paris (; previously know as Euro Disney) has received the most negative press over the years and is fighting its way back to being a respectable Disney option. Part of the problem is that this park was conceived on an American model, designed for families to spend several days in the complex that now includes a cluster of ten hotels and peripheral amusement centers that make up Studio Disney, which includes movie theaters and live-action shows, outside of the main Disneyland compound. That model hasn't has wide appeal to Europeans but with 12 million visitors a year, the park is building new amusements to try and boost its visitation and profits. One of the main complaints that people have is the length of lines and wait times for amusements. Much of the entertainment is in French, reducing the appeal for visitors who don't speak the language and the multilingual demands of Europe add to the park's operating costs. Despite the extremely high value of the Euro, admission tickets prices remain on par with or cheaper than US parks. Adult one-day tickets are $53 and $40 for children three to 11. Two-day Park Hopper Tickets that allow access to Disney Studio venues and amusements are $119 and $92.

Disney Paris is located in Marne la Vallee, just east of Paris and is accessible by train ( at 10-20 minute intervals, although the website gives you no access information except driving directions (the website in general is not particularly user-friendly). The trip takes 45-minutes, and the stop is called Paris Disneyland.

Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Disneyland ( is certainly the cleanest of all the Disney parks. It also offers an interesting international slant to Disney traditions. A visit makes a great day trip from Tokyo, with quick and efficient train transportation from the city (between 15 and 60 minutes depending on your starting point) or from Narita Airport (50 minutes), shorter lines and friendly staff. Of all the Disney websites, this is the easiest to navigate, with clear and concise sections, straight forward-prices and excellent information. Built of totally reclaimed land in Urayasu-shi, the sister park is the waterfront Tokyo DisneySea and there are five hotels located within the complex. All destinations are linked by monorail like the other Disney resorts.

Entry fees for a one-day unlimited use ticket are $53 for adults, $46 for 12-17 year olds and $53 for children aged from four to 11. Food within the park is a mixture of American, International and Japanese styles and staff speak English. Tokyo Disneyland is the perfect destination if you are looking for a single or two-day experience rather than an entire vacation built around the Disney experience. It also makes a welcome break from what can be the hustle and bustle of Tokyo, especially if you are on business trip.

Hong Kong

Hong Kong Disneyland ( is a $1.8 billion project that forms an integral part of a renewed push to strengthen and consolidate Hong Kong's position as Asia's most popular international destination. Hong Kong Disneyland will be the 'jewel in the crown' of a new 310-acre tourism, recreation and entertainment district to be developed at Penny's Bay on Lantau Island. The revised opening date is now October 14, 2005 and the first phase of construction includes a 10-million annual visitor Disneyland-based theme park, 2,100 hotel rooms, and a 300,000 square foot retail, dining and entertainment complex. The park is located 10-minutes by train from the new airport and 30 minutes from downtown Hong Kong. Hong Kong Disneyland will be the fifth Disneyland-styled theme park in the world and the first to recreate many of the exact designs of the original Disneyland in California including its Sleeping Beauty Castle. Along with the classic Disney attractions, Hong Kong Disneyland has the distinction of featuring original attractions designed specifically for Hong Kong, as well as entertainment and that will celebrate local culture. Two themed hotels (the Victorian style Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel and the Art Deco Disney's Hollywood Hotel) will be built adjacent to the theme park.

The park will include local food and music and provide services in English and two forms of Chinese. It was designed using Chinese cultural sensitivities with the orientation of the entire park designed according to Feng Shui principles -- a Chinese geomantic practice of seeking harmony with spiritual forces. Ticket prices are yet to be set for Hong Kong, but it is expected that they will be competitive or initially, possibly lower than the other locations.

Despite the initial expense and the possibility of long waits, Disneyland remains a highly coveted destination for adults and children alike. The newer international Disneyland parks add a sense of adventure and cultural education for visitors and can provide a dynamic way to experience Americana whilst traveling abroad.

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