Walt Disney Co. officials consulted Chinese feng shui experts before building Hong Kong Disneyland, making changes such as tilting the site of the park several degrees and setting up “no fire zones” in kitchens.

Feng shui is the Chinese belief that harmonious energy and therefore better fortune can be achieved by the correct positioning of furniture and other objects.



Other feng shui influences include the park’s orientation to face water with mountains behind, Hong Kong Disneyland spokeswoman Esther Wong said.



The park’s groundbreaking date and opening date of Sept. 12 were also picked after conferring with feng shui specialists, she said.



Feng shui practioners also designated “no fire zones” in the kitchens, to try to keep the five elements of metal, water, wood, fire and earth in balance throughout the amusement park.



Wong said U.S.-based Disney decided to observe feng shui because it wanted to defer to local custom.



“It’s cultural considerations,” Wong said, noting, “all the food and language in the park must follow the habits and tastes of our consumers and future guests.”



Hong Kongers tend to be Westernized, but Hong Kong Disneyland is expected to draw droves of guests from neighboring mainland China as well.



However, Disney’s cultural sensitivity drew a backlash recently. The park had planned to serve shark’s fin soup, a Chinese delicacy, but dropped the dish after protests from environmentalists who expressed fears about the extinction of sharks.



Hong Kong Disneyland — built on reclaimed land in the outlying Lantau island — is a joint venture between The Walt Disney Co. and the Hong Kong government, but local taxpayers are footing most of the construction bill.



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