January 12, 2012

A Taste of Shanghai's Fantasyland

Go ahead. Call me a sucker for old school Imagineering attractions. I particularly love the attractions that were developed by Walt Disney Imagineering in the 1960s. That is not to imply that I dislike or don't enjoy more modern classics like Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, Test Track, Soarin' Over California or the Indiana Jones Adventure (which by the way, I would count among the best of the newer ones).

What is it about these classics of the 60s that hold so much appeal? Be it the cheesy but charming It's a Small World or the dark and mysterious Pirates of the Caribbean or the Haunted Mansion, there was a sense of wonder and fully developed atmosphere that was built in an attraction of such length. You could forget you were in a theme park and be in the story. Even with the best thrill rides or video based game attractions, you just get into the story's world before you are just as quickly yanked out.

This perspective is what makes me really excited for what the Company seems to be building in the soon to come Shanghai Disneyland. Think about it. Since I love Pirates, my favorite all-time Disney attraction, shouldn't I just love to explore Jack Sparrow's world on land and on sea? I can really enjoy a cruise on the Black Pearl after I've taken a voyage in the new Pirates attraction and explored the town where his adventures began. Sorry, but even a video screen with 3D cannot compete with these kinds of experiences!

This concept art for Shanghai's cruise in Fantasyland brings up another chance to really immerse guests in the stories of the kingdom. Imagineers of all ages and decades, everyone from Marc Davis to Tony Baxter and beyond, have provided their most compelling work when given a dark ride to design. This should be no exception by a newer generation of artists and writers and engineers. This small taste of what is to come is vague, but it looks like a terrific foundation.

If there is a misstep, it is a huge lost opportunity. There's only one chance for Shanghai to make a good first impression, and too much money at stake to lose when that's lost. It does not take a rocket (Jets) scientist to look backward to California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios Paris, or Hong Kong Disneyland to understand it never pays to not put your best work forward. Or to look at a park like Animal Kingdom and let it falter due to lack of continued work, losing guests and revenue from a whole different perspective.

All I can say is, "Do it right- and please give us some more tasty artwork soon!"

(Art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

No comments: