Shanghai Disneyland, opening in the spring of 2016, is trying a few new things not seen in other "Magic Kingdom"-style parks. Here are a few of the more interesting changes in the works at the new park.
Shanghai Disneyland Resort as a whole will be nearly 1,000 acres and cost an estimated $4.4 billion. By some estimates, the new Shanghai Disneyland will be the largest theme park in China and is expected to draw crowds of 17 million annually. Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World is currently the busiest theme park in the world with an estimated attendance of 19.3 million guests last year.
Here are seven features of this new Disneyland that make it unique:
Gone is Main Street, U.S.A.
This isn’t the first time the iconic entrance street is missing. In Tokyo, the street is known as the World Bizarre. In Shanghai, though, the entire concept is flipped on its head, with the main shopping district on both sides of the turnstiles. It’s Main Street meets Toon Town with an over-the-top Mickey theme. Mickey Avenue takes its color cue from Mickey Mouse while bringing a more urban style to the shopping district. While a few shops will call Mickey Avenue home, the majority of the entrance retail will actually take place just outside the turnstiles.
Disneytown will be Shanghai’s version of Downtown Disney/Disney Springs. The usual tenants, like World of Disney Store and LEGO, will be there, but Disneytown will also feature some unique tenants that are familiar names in the Chinese market. A 1,200-seat theater will feature Broadway-style shows. For now it’ll host the world premiere of the Mandarin-language version of The Lion King
A large round raft ride with no IP
A round raft ride that will feature dark caves, giant alligator skeletons and some rather intense-looking moments will be included in the Adventure Isle land. It’s an odd move for a company infamous for its cross-promotion between rides and movies, but this dino-focused ride is viewed as a nod to China’s fascination and connection with dinosaurs. The rapids ride is simply known as Roaring Rapids, sitting in the shadow of the largest mountain in the park, Roaring Mountain. The rapids ride will feature giant Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs that look more like gators standing on their back feet; the Audio-Animatronics were a hit at the press conference. The ride will also feature another first for a Disneyland park: A ropes course will be above part of the ride allowing guests on both attractions to gaze upon the others.
Pirates of the Caribbean goes high-tech
Pirates of the Caribbean is a must-have for all Disneyland-style signature parks, but the one in Shanghai will trade in the typical boats for high-tech ones. The ride itself will be focused less on the traditional ride theme and more on the movies (which were a huge box office success in Asia). Projection mapping technology will be used in parts of the ride while keeping the large show scenes the ride franchise has become known for. The boats will spin, travel sideways and move backwards during the ride. Three large domes with projection technology will be used on the ride.
Pirates have an entire land with a stunt show
On top of the high-tech version of Pirates of the Caribbean ride Disney is devoting an entire land to the Pirates franchise. The new Pirates land, known as Treasure Cove, will have restaurants, the one-of-a-kind POTC ride, a canoe ride (like the former ones MK had), and a splash pad, but by far the most interesting addition to Treasure Cove will be the “Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular.” Yes, a stunt show is heading to a Disneyland park. The lighthearted humor that these shows are known for has already been confirmed. With any luck the Indiana Jones Stunt show here at DHS will be shipped over there for their stunt show. Either way, Disney doesn’t have the best track record on entertaining and exciting stunt shows.
The restaurant, Barbossa’s Bounty, will be one of the largest restaurants in the entire park. It will feature multiple themed dining rooms, much like the Blue Bayou Restaurant found at other Disneylands. Two giant pirate ships rest in the harbor of Treasure Cove.
The castle is dedicated to all the princesses and has a boat ride under it
Why have just one princess live with you when you can get a whole group of them? The "Sorority Castle" is a new concept for Disney but this castle will make up for it in size. The “Enchanted Storybook Castle,” as it’s properly known, will be the largest, tallest (196.8 ft tall) and "most interactive" castle Disney has ever built. The castle will house a table-service restaurant, a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, a retail store, meet-and-greets, and two attractions.
The first attraction is a walk-through known as “Once Upon a Time Adventure.” Following the story of Snow White, the attraction will use interactive elements and special effects including the “Magic Mirror” effect found in the “Enchanted Tales with Belle” attraction here in Orlando. Similar walk-through attractions have been featured in other Disney castles but this looks to be the largest and most technologically advanced one.
The other attraction in the castle is a boat ride, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, which will launch from Fantasyland, meandering past islands of flowers before entering the caverns under the castle. The ride looks to be a nice mix of relaxing garden boat cruise and a tour de force of Disney Imagineering with numerous effects that’ll take place in the Crystal Grotto. The boats themselves are a larger and more ornate version of the former swan boats that at one time took guests past the castle here at the Magic Kingdom.
Massive gardens host the parades, Dumbo and more
In keeping with Chinese tradition and demographics (lots of older people with each family) the new Shanghai park will include numerous gardens and places to relax. The Gardens of Imagination will be made of up seven different gardens, each with unique themes and focal points. The seven different gardens are the Garden of the Twelve Friends, Melody Garden, Romance Garden, Woodland Garden, Garden of the Magic Feather, Fantasia Garden, and Storybook Castle Garden. The Gardens of Imagination will be home to the daily afternoon parade. While the parade only takes place in one land, it will actually be the longest parade route of any Disney parade. The Gardens of Twelve Friends will be a playful, Disney approach to the Chinese Zodiac characters.
The Storytellers Statue will also call the Gardens of Imagination home. Two rides, Dumbo and the Fantasia themed Carousel (note that here Disney decided to use one ‘r’ instead of the two found in some Disney parks), are offered in the land – one on either side of the ponds found on the front of the castle. The Wandering Moon Teahouse, with traditional Chinese architecture and serving traditional Chinese dishes, will also call the Gardens home.
The Toy Story themed hotel
Toy Story is huge in China and to help meet the demand for the popular franchise Disney is dedicating a whole hotel to it. While the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel will look like a gold vendor in Dubai, the Toy Story Hotel is their budget hotel. The styling is closer to that of the All Stars Resorts here in Orlando. The hotel will be less of the oversized characters that value resorts are known for. The hotel will feature prints familiar with the Toy Story brand and less of replicas. The outside of the hotel has a cloud print similar to the wallpaper of Andy’s walls. The hotel has all the rooms facing inward and the figure-9-shaped hotel features two courtyards.