Special Visas for the Magic Kingdom
Hong Kong may be home to a huge population, but residents keen on visiting the Magic Kingdom would ostensibly do so rather quickly, and not necessarily go again and again. Meanwhile, just over the border lies Shenzen, a massive city full of would-be Mickey fans... but visiting Hong Kong requires a visa process that must begin in one's home city: no good for those in Shenzen for work. In a last-ditch bid to keep this franchise of Disneyland afloat, though, China and Hong Kong have come up with a special tour-group visa, so that Shenzen residents can visit Disneyland with greater ease. It's worth pointing out that Disneyland Hong Kong is owned mostly by its government, and the special treatment is angering the caretakers of other Cantonese attractions.
Under normal rules migrant workers living in Shenzhen would have to return to their original homes to apply for a visa. New rules allow them to visit without visas on condition that they go as part of an organized tour group and do not travel anywhere else.
Some 8 million to 16 million people will be eligible under the new rules, which were announced Tuesday as part of the fifth phase in the Closer Economic Partnership Arrangements between Hong Kong and China, which have separate constitutional and legal systems.
Local newspapers described it as a "lifeline" for the park, which has failed to meet its visitor targets in its nearly three years of operation.