Walt Disney Company, led by Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger, unveiled details about the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, during a presentation at the Shanghai Expo Center. The resort, which includes, among other things, the Shanghai Disneyland park, live entertainment venues, a Broadway-style theater and two hotels (the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel), is scheduled to open in the spring of 2016. Iger said that the resort will be, “a truly magical place that is both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.” And from the concept art released today (just watch the video above), this definitely seems to be the case.
The park is, according to Iger, something of an uber-resort, utilizing all of the things that Disney has learned from its resorts all over the world, to create the ultimate in family entertainment. It will be culturally specific but purposefully universal, bringing in a number of Disney characters and franchises in fun and interesting ways, and taking advantage of the most cutting-edge technology available. Come spring 2016, this will be the resort that every hardcore Disney fan will be clamoring to visit.
Let’s take a look at the individual lands that make up the theme park portion of Shanghai Disneyland:
This is the largest land in the park, anchored by the Enchanted Storybook Castle, the tallest, largest, most complex and most interactive Disney castle ever. Instead of being tied to one film or concept, it’s a castle that pays homage to the very idea of fantasy (it’s topped with a peony – the flower of China, surrounded by a cascade of Disney stars). In this land, there will be a boat ride called Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, and updated versions of both the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (currently thrilling guests of all ages at Walt Disney World in Florida) and Peter Pan’s Flight (which recently got a nifty facelift at Disneyland in California). There will also be a Wonderland maze, themed to Alice in Wonderland and the Hundred Acre Wood from Winnie the Pooh to explore. Of course, you can only enjoy all of the amazing attractions if you stop staring at the castle long enough.
The centerpiece for the new Tomorrowland is the TRON Lightcycle Power Run, a coaster-style attraction where guests board two-wheeled lightcycles and zip around a domed indoor-outdoor structure that pulsates with neon lights. Additionally, there will be some kind of spinner attraction (as seen in the preview video) and the Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, a “new space ranger adventure”. Also, what’s interesting is that aesthetically this Tomorrowland seems to be taking some subtle aesthetic cues from Brad Bird’s Tomorrowland movie, especially since there will be a jet pack ride that promises guests will “break the bonds of gravity.” As George Clooney’s Frank Walker would say: wanna go?
The park’s version of Adventureland will be lorded over by the fearsome Roaring Mountain, beckoning guests to explore this exciting section of the park. The main attraction in this area is Roaring Rapids, which will take guests through the heart of Adventure Isle (the concept art features a giant crocodile-like dinosaur that looks like it could dwarf Expedition Everest’s mighty Yeti). Among the other attractions will be Soaring Over the Horizon, an international version of the popular flight simulator attraction Soarin’ that’s currently wowing guests at Disney California Adventure and EPCOT, a wilderness trail called Camp Discovery, and an elaborate acrobatic stage show Tarzan, Call of the Jungle, based off of Disney’s animated hit Tarzan.
This is one of the park’s many, many firsts: the first pirate-themed land in a Disney park. Unsurprisingly, the big attraction in this land is Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure. And trust us when we say this: it isn’t your daddy’s Pirates of the Caribbean. This attraction is based on the feature films starring Johnny Depp (the fifth film, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales will be out in the summer of 2017). This boat ride will have a bigger thrill ride component and as the official press release states, will feature “cutting-edge innovations in robotics, animation, set design and multimedia.” (We have seen some of what’s going on in this attraction and while we’re sworn to secrecy, we can say that it is beyond imagination.) There will also be pirate ships, Explorer Canoes, a new restaurant (Barbossa’s Bounty), and a live stage show called Eye of the Storm – Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular.
Another first: the first main entry at a Disney park inspired by Mickey Mouse and his fabulous friends. This area of the park is reminiscent of a more sophisticated version of Mickey’s Starland, the Magic Kingdom land that focused predominantly on meet-and-greets and a colorful design aesthetic, or even Toontown at Disneyland in California. This will primarily be a place where you can meet your favorite characters, get a quick hug, and do some shopping (Avenue M Arcade will feature the largest selection of gifts and collectibles inside the park). Our heart is soaring just thinking about this area.
Gardens of Imagination
This might be the most interesting “land” at the park, and the most traditionally Chinese. Gardens of Imagination will offer a quieter, more reflective area of the park where guests can appreciate the “wonders of nature and joy of imagination.” Included in this section of the park are the Fantasia Carousel, the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride (an easily translatable classic), and seven whimsical gardens. This is the best spot to take in the daytime castle stage show, the Ignite the Dream nighttime spectacular, and the Mickey’s Storybook Express, a parade that will feature the longest route in a Disney park. Our imaginations are certainly captured.
This is just a rough overview of the park itself. In the months leading up to Shanghai Disneyland’s opening, we will be taking a look at the hotels, entertainment-and-shopping complex (entitled Disneytown), the Broadway-style theater (the Disney Grand Theater, home to the Mandarin translation of The Lion King), the two amazing hotels, and all of the aspects that make Shanghai Disneyland such a groundbreaking, magical place.