No shark fin soup in Hong Kong, an acrobatic accident, and Six Flags improves despite Kingda Ka's downtime.
Written by Russell Meyer
Off the MenuTweet
New York Times 6/25/05
It looks like Disney has caved to environmentalists, and removed shark fin soup from the menu of Hong Kong Disneyland. The delicacy, very popular among the Chinese, was going to be reserved for special banquets and events, but now it seems that not even those special events will be able to order up the popular soup. The controversy stems around the way in which sharks are harvested. In most cases, a shark is caught, and sometimes killed before the profitable fins are removed, and then thrown back into the water. It’s definitely not the most humane process in the world, and incredibly wasteful, as only the fins are used. It seems that the environmentalists hammered so hard on Disney’s door that they couldn’t stand it any more, and the soup was removed from the soon to be opened park because “shark fishing could not be conducted in an environmentally sustainable way.” Sounds like a cop out to me, but there don’t appear to be a whole lot of people complaining about this decision. I’m surprised more Chinese are not critical of this decision. Disney is taking a big risk by placing a theme park in China, and in a way, it is saying that part of the culture of the country that is hosting their newest park is that it is inhumane to animals. I’ve never had an opportunity to try shark fin soup, but I have been in authentic Chinese restaurants where it is served- not Panda Express or your local food court restaurant- and the soup is easily one of the most popular on the menu (sorry won ton, egg drop, and hot and sour). Even though the harvesting process may seem inhumane to us silly Americans, is it our place to remove a staple banquet menu item because we don’t like how the ingredients are brought to the table? When in Rome, do as the Romans do, and instead of trying to make an environmentally friendly statement, just serve the soup.
There was an accident last week at Six Flags St. Louis. The incident involved an acrobat performing in the Cirque Magnifico show. Wong Shawmin was performing spins and twists over the audience, and somehow lost control and fell ten feet onto the stage. The show continued, and the acrobat was rushed to the hospital with only minor injuries. The trapeze can be one of the most awe inspiring circus acts, especially when performed without a net, but as this case shows, there is still a chance of an incident even with very talented and highly skilled performers. Thankfully Shawmin will be fine, and will probably be back in front of an audience within a couple of weeks. It must have been pretty stunning to the audience, because we take for granted the risks that the performers take when doing such incredible acrobatic displays.
While I have been bashing Kingda Ka over the past few weeks, it seems that Six Flags has not been feeling much of an effect from its significant downtime. Six Flags has announced that it does not expect to see much effect from the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster being down. In fact, attendance is up 4.4%, and season pass sales have increased 18% (probably more likely due to lower prices than better parks, though). It’s possible that the increased attendance is more due to some great weather over the past few weeks all across the country, or just a better job of marketing the parks this year (Mr. Six is all over my television). Part of the increase could also be because so many coaster fans had already planned a trip to New Jersey before Kingda Ka went down, and decided to go to Great Adventure anyway (I’m one of them). At any rate, maybe Six Flags will see that it’s not a coaster that makes a park, and the attendance increases that they’re seeing are not because of the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, but because of an experience that lasts an entire day, not 4 hours of waiting and a 30 second rush. Six Flags is obviously working furiously to get the roller coaster back on line, but their numbers show that they’re doing just fine without Kingda Ka.
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