May 12, 2016

Initial Thoughts on Shanghai Disneyland

Thanks to terrific sites like Disney and More, the web's been filled with photos and video leaked out of Shanghai Disneyland. And, to be totally honest, I've watched most of the video and looked in detail at the photos. What I've seen is a mixed bag offering.

Let's start with the clear winner: Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure. The new story drives the attraction, and the skeleton to Jack Sparrow in the flesh transition is phenomenal, but it is the combination of filmed segments, detailed sets, and stunning new Audio-Animatronics that pull the whole thing together. From what I can see, Treasure Cove looks fine but suffers from too bright a color palate. 

On the other hand, the massive castle is a bust. The inside might make for a beautiful walk through and really looks lovely, but outside, it's clear the Chinese authorities had something to prove. Clunky, charmless, and without the wow factor of other Magic Kingdom icons. The same can be said for the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto. Prior to entering the basement of the castle, the boats cruise through a garden trough while looking at statues of Disney animated film characters. Boring. And a huge waste of space. The same charmless adjective can be applied to the Tim Burton inspired Alice in Wonderland maze, and unfortunately Peter Pan's Flight- which promised something groundbreaking and delivered little. 

Tomorrowland. Ugh- I had such high hope for this area based on the concept art. Admittedly, Tron's Lightcycles look terrific if somewhat short, and the Jet Packs have potential for a spinner. The interesting piece was looking at the pavement treatment in the land. Seems like it was designed with materials that would be especially easy to replace or hose down should the untrained guests decide to use the walking area as a place to relieve themselves. Perhaps it was just built to deconstruct like so many buildings in the former Soviet Union countries. 

There's not enough footage of Adventure Isle to get a great look, but Mickey Avenue, the alternative to Main Street U.S.A., looks great! The gardens around the castle hub are pleasing- even if it is a bit jarring to see Dumbo and the Carousel on the other side. 

As more photos and video become available, I'll comment. So far, I'd rate Shanghai Disneyland at a "B". Not excellent but with much potential.

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