Hong Kong Disneyland launches this year's springtime celebration the same day that Walt Disney launches its latest live-action movie, a re-make of the eponymous cartoon, "Beauty and the Beast". Was this a coincidence?
Disney and Friends cartoon characters will take centre stage at this year’s Springtime Carnival at Hong Kong Disneyland, which runs from 16 March to 28 May 2017.
More than 100 Disney Friends will take part in the Springtime Carnival at various locations around the amusement park.
At least 30 of the characters will join the Disney and Friends Springtime Processional every afternoon, marching along the parade route down Main Street, U.S.A., to the delight of Disney fans.
Nearly 50 dancers will also take part in the highly popular parade.
Disney Friends of the Month will greet park goers, offering a rare chance for photo opps at the Main Street Annex.
Belle and the Beast from "Beauty and the Beast", Pinocchio and Geppetto from "Pinocchio", and Carl and Dug from "Up" will be the featured characters in April and May.
An array of 55 springtime snacks, desserts, and drinks will be served at food and beverage outlets in the park and at Hong Kong Disneyland’s resort hotels.
A total of 130 Disney Friends memorabilia will be on sale at gift shops in the park. There will also be special events tied into Easter.
Guests staying at Hong Kong Disneyland's hotels, for example will be able to have their rooms decorated with Easter decor - at an additional cost.
Beauty and the Beast
Coincidentally, a live-action version of “Beauty and the Beast” opened at theaters in Hong Kong the same day the Springtime Carnival was launched.
Inspired by the eponymous Disney cartoon, which was released in 1991, this new version of "Beauty and the Beach" premiered in London, England, on 23 February.
The film was released globally – and in Hong Kong – on 16 March 2017.
The movie has provoked controversy in Southeast Asia and other parts of the world because of what the director called an “exclusively gay moment” in which a male character expresses his affection for another male character.
Conservative religious groups in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Malaysia were quick to condemn the film.
Censors in Malaysia, a predominately Muslim country where homosexual activity is illegal, went so far as to say they would only approve the movie's release if the so-called "gay moment" were cut.
Gay scenes are only allowed in movies if the characters are portrayed negatively or they show repentance
“We have approved it, but there is a minor cut involving a gay moment," says Abdul Halimthe chairman of the censorship board.
"It is only one short scene, but it is inappropriate because many children will be watching this movie.”
So far, Disney has refused to release the film unless the scene remain intact.
What is ironic is that the character in question is hardly portrayed in a positive light. LeFou is the sidekick of Gastou, the movie's villain, and he is portrayed as a comic figure rather than a heroic one.
If newspaper reviews of the film are to be believed, the scene in question sounds pretty tame.
We're hardly talking about hard-core pornography. We're talking about a minor character showing admiration for a member of the same sex.
Is LeFou really Disney's first ever "gay" character? Or is it the first time the film studio ever openly identified one of its characters as being gay?
Such characters have, in fact, appeared in other Disney films, but their sexuality was never explicitly revealed. They were, so to speak, kept in the closet.
If these characters had one thing in common, it was that they were comic figures, and they were there to provide comic relief.
They never played a significant role in the movie. They never came close to advancing the plot.
They were hardly portrayed as heroic role models for children to emulate. It's hard to understand what the big deal is all about - either in opposition or in celebration of the movie.
If this is a step forward for cinematic inclusiveness, it is a small step. The LGBT community will have to wait for its first "boy meets boy, boy loses boy, boy gets boy back" Disney flick.