It Didn't Play in Puyallup, so Disney Tries Singapore


A traveling Disney carnival that laid an egg in the United States is on its way to a new life in Singapore. The 1,000-ton DisneyFest--including giant tents, inflatable Mickeys and electronic games--set sail from the Port of Los Angeles early Wednesday, crated aboard an APL Limited ship.

The five-acre attraction is set to open near the capital city of Singapore on Oct. 30; it's expected to travel to several other Asian cities next year.

The former Disney Fair started its life as a $30-million U.S. attraction from Disney Imagineering (the unit that creates attractions for Walt Disney's theme parks) in September. Its stated purpose was to bring "the magic of Disney" and "a fanciful shopping experience" to the hinterland, at about an $11 premium to the cost of a county fair ticket.

After opening in Puyallup, Wash., the collection of stage shows, games, food and Disney merchandise--enclosed in massive circus tents--was scheduled to travel to 15 other cities in 15 months. But attendance was poor, and the fair petered out after only a couple of stops.

The Puyallup stint was also dogged by protests by the local stagehands (IATSE) union, which charged Disney with using low-wage, nonunion labor.

But the newly formed Disney Entertainment Projects (Asia Pacific) Inc. thinks DisneyFest will be a hit in Singapore. The company is predicting a turnout of 500,000 during the three-month stint, with ticket prices ranging from $13 to $36 in U.S. dollars. The festival will kick off the year-end holiday season in Singapore.

DisneyFest is the first venture of Singapore-based Disney Entertainment Projects. A spokeswoman said the company will focus on location-based entertainment projects in Asia. She said the lineup of other Asian cities to be visited by DisneyFest is still being finalized.

Disney has reportedly been exploring the idea of opening another Asian theme park. The company currently operates Tokyo Disneyland, which it plans to expand by 2001.

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