Hong Kong was in the doldrums at the time, and desperately wanted to add some glamour to its economy —— known for banking, investment, shopping and shipping —— now it was in Chinese hands.
To give Hong Kong a helping hand, China in 2003 allowed its nationals to travel to the city of 6.8 million people.
Since then, floods of mainland Chinese have flocked to Hong Kong picking up brand-name goods from its luxury malls, crowding to its jewelry stores and eating out at its numerous restaurants.
Hong Kong's tourism board said it expects 27.14 million tourists in 2006, a 15.9 percent jump over 2005, and officials say they expect the park to bring in $19 billion over 40 years, and create 35,800 jobs over 20 years.
The world's best-known entertainment company is counting on these increasingly prosperous mainland Chinese tourists in its third international venture, and its second in Asia after Japan. It is also hoping it can export its magic to China, where there is no deep knowledge of its culture.