At this past weekend’s D23 Expo 2015, the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion featured a closer look at Shanghai Disneyland, part of Shanghai Disney Resort. The resort will be the first Disney Resort in Mainland China, introducing Disney storytelling to Chinese guests when the resort opens in spring 2016.
Shanghai Disneyland will be organized around six themed lands, immersive attractions, live entertainment and Disney characters, Shanghai Disneyland will offers its own unique take on a Disney theme park. Among the major “firsts” for Shanghai Disney Resort are a unique main entrance that presents that land as Mickey’s hometown instead of a Main Street concept; the first use of a garden theme as a land; the first attraction to take guests underneath a Disney castle; and the first pirate-themed land.
In a presentation held at Shanghai Expo Centre a few weeks prior to D23 Expo 2015, Disney Chairman and CEO Bob Iger revealed a scale model of the theme park. That presentation showcased some key elements to Shanghai Disneyland – attractions, entertainment, dining and shopping – and these elements were also present at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion. And it was those kinds of details that were showcased at the D23 Expo pavilion.
At the pavilion’s exhibit on Shanghai Disney Resort, D23 Expo attendees could take a self-guided tour of what’s being planned, lingering over concept art, models, and descriptions of the park’s layout, theme and stories. Or they could talk to the Imagineers who were on-hand to answer questions and help explore the park’s design. Although the Imagineers could not be reveal every detail about the resort, or ruin surprises, they were happy to talk about such things as the collaborative process of building Shanghai Disney, the research that went into its theming, and share some of the resort’s backstory, theming and technical details.
Iger, and others with the company, have referred to Shanghai Disneyland and the resort as a whole with the following tagline: “Authentically Disney, distinctly Chinese.” This idea resonated with the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts pavilion’s exhibit on Shanghai Disney Resort, whether in the exhibit’s models and displays, the accompanying text, or the conversations with Imagineers.
“We are building something truly special here in Shanghai that not only showcases the best of Disney’s storytelling but also celebrates and incorporates China’s incredibly rich heritage to create a one-of-a-kind destination that will delight and entertain the people of China for generations to come,” said Iger in speaking at the Shanghai Expo Centre a few weeks prior to D23 Expo.
Below is s a more detailed look at what to expect from Shanghai Disneyland and Shanghai Disney Resort. The accompanying slideshow also provides a look at what will be included in the theme park’s six lands.
Mickey Avenue will be the main entrance to the park is inspired by the colorful personalities of Mickey Mouse and his friends, and is made up of four neighborhoods. Disney character will appear in this land’s four neighborhoods, allowing guests to get their pictures taken with them. The land will be home to a Steamboat “Mickey” fountain, a reference to the 1928 animated film.
- Mickey Avenue, like its Main Street, U.S.A. counterparts at other Disney theme parks, will feature shopping opportunities. Avenue M Arcade will be the signature store, featuring the largest collection of gifts and collectibles inside the park.
- Mickey Avenue will also offer dining and snack options. Donald hosts Il Paperino, which will serve gelato; Mickey & Pals Market Café is designed as quick-service restaurant that will serve localized Chinese and international dishes. Remy’s Patisseries, inspired by Pixar’s “Ratatouille, is a French-inspired bakery. Sweethearts Confectionery represents the childhood home of Minnie Mouse.
Gardens of Imagination offers seven whimsical gardens as part of its focus on nature and the joy of imagination, and marks the first time a garden has been conceived of as a land for a Disney park. The seven gardens are Gardens of the Twelve Friends, Melody Garden, Romance Garden, Woodland Garden, Garden of the Magic Feather, Fantasia Garden, and Storybook Castle Garden.
At the Garden of the Twelve Friends, animals found in the Chinese zodiac are re-imagined as Disney and Pixar characters and depicted in mosaic murals. The entrance to this land will feature the “Storytellers” statue also found at Disney California Adventure
Attractions in this area include the Fantasia Carousel, the first such carousel inspired by the 1940 movie of, and a Dumbo the Flying Elephant spinner.
- Disney entertainment featured in this land includes Castle stage shows and an “Ignite the Dream, a Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light.“ The park’s Mickey’s Storybook Express” will be a line of themed “train cars” accompanied by a musical soundtrack and colorful performers. The daytime parade will have the longest parade route in a Disney park, with several viewing locations in Gardens of Imagination.
- This land will offer the Wandering Moon Teahouse, a restaurant that features the story of “Wandering Moon” for the first time in any Disney park.
Fantasyland, like those in other Disney castle parks, is inspired by Disney’s animated films. It will be the largest of the lands. Fantasyland is home to Enchanted Storybook Castle, the largest, tallest castle in a Disney park and one that will represent Disney Princesses rather than a tribute to just one. Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is billed as a “mystical boat ride” featuring familiar Disney stories. The attraction takes guests along Fantasyland waters and underneath the castle for a grand finale.
Enchanted Storybook Castle will also be home to a Storybook Court designed for Disney character meets; Royal Banquet Hall, a table-service restaurant with characters; the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, offering princess makeovers for young guests; “Once Upon A Time Adventure,” a walk-through attraction featuring interactive scenes with Snow White, and Voyage to the Crystal Grotto.
Shanghai Disneyland’s Fantasyland will also offer variations of attractions found at other Disney parks. The land will be home to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, also found at Magic Kingdom. Its Peter Pan, a classic dark ride, will debut a new inverted-coaster ride system at Shanghai. Hunny Pot Spin, a Hundred Acre Wood attraction with Winnie the Pooh, will evoke the Mad Tea Party with a Winnie the Pooh twist. And “Alice in Wonderland” is represented with a maze based on Tim Burton’s “Alice” film.
- Disney entertainment in Fantasyland will include “Frozen: A Sing-Along Celebration” at the Evergreen Palace.
- The Snuggly Duckling, from Disney’s “Tangled,” inspires the area’s Tangled Tree Tavern. The venue will serve meals in this pub-themed dining area.
- When night falls on another magical day at Shanghai Disneyland, guests may enjoy a nighttime spectacular that paints the sky above Enchanted Storybook Castle in dazzling light, with music, special effects and fireworks.
Adventure Isle is themed to a what Disney calls a “newly discovered lost world, filled with hidden treasures.” The land’s centerpiece will be Roaring Mountain, which is both birthplace to “undiscovered secrets of an ancient tribal legend” and the resting place for a reptilian creature named O’araq. Roaring Rapids will takes Disney guests rafting adventure down a mountain into a dark cavern and, as part of the experience, into an encounter with Q’aráq.
Adventure Isle will also house Soaring over the Horizon, which is Shanghai Disneyland’s version of the Soarin’ flight simulator attraction, and this ride will transport guests across time and space. Guests may visit the trails Camp Discovery, which will be home to waterfalls, ruins and dig sites promising the opportunity to unearth ancient tribal relics.
- This land’s entertainment will include a musical retelling of “Tarzan” at the Storyhouse Stage. “Tarzan: Call of the Jungle” will combine theatrics, Chinese acrobatics and a rock concert, set to the score of the 1999 Disney animated movie.
- Dining options at Adventure Isle will include Tribal Table. Shanghai Disney describes this establishment as an art-filled restaurant and sensory dining experience that incorporates “live cooking” with woks and rotisseries.
Tomorrowland, in another Shanghai Disneyland first, features an original design. It is themed to covey optimism and the “limitless possibilities” for Shanghai’s future. Its headline attraction will be TRON: Lightcycle Power Run, a coaster-style attraction that permits guests to board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles for a high-speed, twisting indoor-outdoor track. The Jet Packs attraction will permit individuals to strap in, spin, and experience a sky-high vantage point of Tomorrowland.
Other Tomorrowland attractions will some variations of those found in the domestic Disney theme parks. Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, a new space ranger adventure, is another targeting game with a story designed especially for Shanghai Disneyland. Stitch Encounter, a real-time, interactive, animated show starring the alien “Experiment 626” from the Disney movie “Lilo & Stitch,” appears designed in the spirit of “Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor” or Turtle Talk with Crush.
- In the Tomorrowland area, Shanghai Disneyland will also offer two experiences created specifically for the park that offer opportunities to meet characters from “Star Wars” and Marvel universes. Star Wars Launch Bay will feature heroes and villains from the saga; house set-pieces, props and memorabilia from the most recent Episode, and offer a “state-of-the-art cinematic experience” of the Skywalker story. The Marvel Universe will offer opportunities to meet Marvel Super Heroes, undertake a multimedia mission, and draw comic-book characters – the latter an experience that sounds much like the domestic Disney parks’ Animation Academy attraction.
- Stargazer Grill, the park’s largest restaurant, will offer views of Enchanted Storybook Castle and other parts of the park thanks to its outdoor deck. Its menu will include Chinese and Western food, including a variety of burgers.
Treasure Cove is unique to Shanghai Disneyland. It will be the first pirate-themed land in a Disney park. The land will feature Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken treasure, which Disney describes as “an attraction that transforms a boat ride into a journey with cutting-edge innovations in robotics, animation, set design and multimedia.” The land will also be able to navigate Explorer Canoes through a scenic cove or explore Shipwreck Shore, a water play area aboard the remains of a shipwrecked French galleon and its surrounding beach.
- Entertainment options in Treasure Cove will include a stunt show called “Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular.”
- For dining, Treasure Cove offers Barbossa’s Bounty as a “grog shop” that will serve spicy barbecue. The restaurant will have themed dining areas as well as a demonstration kitchen.
In addition to the theme park, Shanghai Disney Resort consists of
- Two hotels located adjacent to the theme park. The 420-room Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is inspired by the Art Nouveau movement and will feature theming with Disney characters. Characters from the Pixar film series inspire the 800-room Toy Story Hotel.
- Disneytown, an international shopping, dining and entertainment district also located adjacent to the theme park. Designed to appeal to Chinese guests. Disneytown will offer familiar experiences and aesthetic, including traditional Shanghai Shikumen architecture. The district will be home to the Walt Disney Grand Theatre, where the first-ever Mandarin production of the Broadway hit Disney’s “The Lion King” will be performed, and the first World of Disney store in Asia.
- Wishing Star Park, located near Disneytown, will offer guests a picturesque setting with gardens, a 2.5 kilometer walking path and a lake located on approximately 40 hectares.