Monday, November 17, 2014

Why You Shouldn't Get Too Much Excited About Shanghaî Disneyland


Last Thursday, Shanghaî Disneyland released new artworks, not showing the park but mostly SDL hotels and Disney Town. But thanks to a bird eye view rendering of the resort we were able to see a bit more about this new and highly awaited Disney theme park on China main land. Now, and although the park will have some attractions that you've never seen anywhere else, i suggest that you don't get too excited about it - or only "reasonably" excited - to avoid any disappointment. Don't get me wrong, Shanghaî Disneyland  Imagineers are doing their absolute best to create a great theme park, and one which will be very different than all others Magic kingdoms we know, with many rides that will be unique, but having too high expectations might be the wrong thing to do, and here is why.


First, there is the number of lands. If you listen to the official statement Shanghaî Disneyland will have 6 or 7 "lands" ans this don't include the addition of Toy Story Land which was not visible on the bird eye view artwork. It doesn't mean they won't put it as i suspect them to want to add it either later or shortly after park opening to keep in the sleeve the announcement of "something new that will bring more capacity to the park"... when in fact we know that the three rides of TSL have a limited capacity. And by the way, it won't even be three rides but two only as the Parachute Drop ride is not envisioned for SDL. Probably the idea of having a U.S military camp theming on China main land was not that good after all. Or may be it was a question of visual intrusion of the high towers of Parachute Drop...


So, let's have a look at each lands and, although SDL won't be small at all, you'll see that the park might be not as big as you may think. First, right after the entrance you'll find Mickey Avenue. Yes, there won't be a Main Street U.S.A at SDL and Mickey Avenue is what is replacing it. But if you look at the artwork you'll see that this Mickey Avenue won't be as long as Main Street. I don't know how long really it will be but my guess is that it should be half the length or so of a regular Main Street U.S.A. Still, it's counted as a "land" - and it is on a certain point of view if we consider that what makes a land is also a special theming. And Mickey Avenue will have indeed a unique theming that you won't find anywhere else at SDL with building of different architecture from different countries. But saying that it's a "land" sounds to me a bit too much, or if we have to, then we must also consider DLP WDS Studio 1 as a land...


Anyway, let's move to SDL Central Plaza - ooops, sort of, as at SDL it won't be called Central Plaza  but "Garden of the Twelve Friends" in reference to Chinese mythology. Yes, it will be also a garden with floral elements, as well as water and two "B"ticket rides, the Dumbo ride - identical to the one you know - and Fantasia Carousel - a revisited version of the Carousel with Disney characters where you have wooden horses on the original one. Here is the first "new" attraction that you can put in the count. Still, if someone was telling you that Central Plaza at WDW MK or TDL - where they have the biggest ones - was a land you'll probably answer "are you kidding me?" and you would be right. But at SDL, thanks to the garden elements and the Dumbo and Carousel rides they DO consider it as a land, and so do we have to... even if it sounds like a bad joke. By the way the re-named of this "land" previously called "Gardens of Imagination" and now "Garden of the Twelve Friends" will also help to legitimate the "distinctly Chinese" of Bob Iger's famous quote about how SDL will be ( "Shanghaî Disneyland will be authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese" ).


Let's move to SDL Enchanted Storybook Castle and Fantasyland. Okay, here we should have a land which will be as big as real land. So far the huge SDL castle is not counted as a land itself but i wouldn't bet that they won't do it. And in Fantasyland, what will await SDL guests? Peter Pan's Flight, Winnie the Pooh, an Alice in Wonderland maze - probably close to the one at Disneyland Paris, Hunny Pot Spin, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Journey to the Crystal Grotto. And i don't count as a ride Sword in the Stone and Once Upon a Time Adventure inside the castle because they won't be rides - as far as i know - as well as the Castle Stage Spectacular which will be a show. From what i've been told the Winnie the Pooh ride will be the DL version - and not unfortunately the trackless TDL version - and the Peter Pan ride should be identical to the upcoming upgraded version at DL, may be a bit bigger. Hunny Pot Spin will be a B Ticket and we all know what is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Which, if there is no new additions in a near future, leave SDL Fantasyland with ONE truly new ride, the Journey to the Crystal Grotto boat ride. I won't get here in the debate about the castle that some find too big, i just hope that there will be enough space between Mickey Avenue and the castle to don't have the feeling to have the castle "on the nose", as we say in french. But SDL Fantasyland is a real "land" in size and that's the first one that we can count as having authentically all what is needed to make an authentic Disney park "land", i.e not only a unique theming but also the size.


Let's move to Adventureland. Well, actually there won't be a land called "Adventureland" at SDL but "Adventure Isle" and "Treasure Cove". And yes, each one is counted as a land when in fact it's only together that they'll have a size equivalent to what is normally an Adventureland, like the one at DLP for instance. Nevertheless, in Adventure Isle you'll find a Camp Discovery, Roaring Rapids and Soaring over the Horizon, and an Adventure Isle Stage. Camp Discovery will be most probably an Adventure Isle version of the kids playground area with suspended bridge, etc... that you could find at the former DL Tom Sawyer Island or DLP Adventure Isle, and Soaring over the Horizon is the new Soarin' version that will come six months after SDL opening at DCA and Epcot - or even eventually at the same time if SDL opening is delayed until mid 2016. That leaves us with the Roaring Rapids raft ride, the one supposed to include Audio-Animatronic dinosaurs. And don't ask me how many dinos will be in the ride as not too long ago i've heard that Disney did a cut in the budget, so many of the AA dinosaurs envisioned had to be delete. But as Bob Iger announced recently  that $800M will be added to make things better may be a part of this money will help to have the deleted dinos back in Roaring Rapids... let's hope so. You'll note also the huge rock wall surrounding Roaring Rapids which reminds me the kind of  big rock work they did for DCA Cars Land Radiator Springs Racer, but here of course it will be sculpted with a different style.

Then, right next door you'll find Treasure Cove with a brand new version of the POTC ride "Pirates of Caribbean: "Battle for the Sunken Treasure", a Pirates stunt show, Explorer Canoes,  El Teatro Fandango, and - but don't count them as rides but mostly as walk-through  playgrounds - Barbossa's Bounty and Shipwreck Shore. The POTC attraction will be really a brand new version of the beloved ride and if you need only one reason to come to Shanghaî Disneyland "Battle for the Sunken Treasure" will be a good one. I know most of the story line of it and there is really some genius ideas,  but don't ask me as i won't tell you ( just think at the unthinkable and you'll be close ). The pirates stunt show will be a premiere too - although one was envisioned for DLP years ago... and canceled as usual - and the Explorer Canoes will be a SDL version of the Indian Canoes we all know. The canoes will help too to bring some kinetic element in Adventureland. In any others Disney theme park Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove would have been included together in one land - which would have been called "Adventureland" - but at SDL they will be counted as "two" lands which in fact will have the size of one real land. So, so far we have two "real" lands - in terms of size which are Fantasyland and Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove together. Keep this in mind, you'll see why.

By the way, talking about kinetic elements, because SDL won't have a Main Street or Frontierland, it means no steam boats, no vintage cars, no double decker trams, and no railroad going around the park too, as well as no monorail. This lack of kinetic elements - something more important than you can think as these are moving elements entering in your vision field even if don't ride them - has been counter balanced by having rides with moving elements that can be seen from the outside. Like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland and may be the boats of Journey to the Crystal Grotto, the Tron motorbike coaster trains - more about this one in a minute - as well as the Dumbo and Fantasia Carousel rides in front of the castle. Imagineers didn't had the choice, a theme park needs kinetic elements to bring visually some "life".


There is just one more land to look at and it's Tomorrowland which will include Tron Lightcycles Power Run motorbike coaster, Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, Stitch Encounter and Jet Packs. A Tomorrowland Stage is also include for some entertainment. Let's have a closer look at the rides. Jet Packs will be - at the land entrance and probably with a new design - the usual "jets" B-ticket ride that we find in each Tomorrowland. So far, no surprise. The Stitch Encounter will be similar to Stitch Live at DLP WDS or at HKDL Tomorrowland, using the same technology than Turtle Talk with Crush. Something for young kids, so. The Buzz Lightyear ride is rumored to be a brand new one and it could be a kind of Toy Story Mania re-themed on the world of Buzz. I'm not 100% sure on this one so take this with a pinch of salt. And then there will be the awaited Tron Lightcycles Power Run motorbike coaster which apparently will start with a catapult launch and a huge outside loop - under a structure called "Tron Cover" - before having the track getting inside the show building. Everyone have big expectations about this ride, not only because it'll be the first Tron E-Ticket ride - and WDI can do something great with a motorbike coaster which will fit perfectly with the theme of Tron - but also because it will be the main Tomorrowland E-Ticket replacing Space Mountain which won't be built at SDL. Personally, from the pictures i've seen of the construction site, the show building looks a bit small to me and i would have seen a longer one to have the needed depth to bring the illusion of the world of Tron. But a bigger show-building - basically, a bigger "box" - would have been more expensive too and, as i've said, the fact to have a part of the track going outside will also bring some kinetic element in Tomorrowland.

SDL Tomorrowland - at least on the map - don't look that huge to me, and certainly smaller than DLP Magic Kingdom. But they still have room for future additions, and DLP Discoveryland was not that big too at opening day, so let's say that we will count SDL Tomorrowland as a "real" land. So, if we make the count we have so far three "real" lands - in terms of size - Fantasyland, a big Adventureland which include Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove and a not too big Tomorrowland. Then you'll have the short Mickey Avenue and the huge "Central Plaza / Garden of the Twelve Friends" which, to be kind, we  will count as one land together, and that's all. Which makes four lands where SDL counts them for six, probably for marketing reasons as it helps to give the feeling that the park is bigger than it is, or simply because they count a "land" depending of the theming and not the size. But the good news is that Shanghaî Disneyland has plenty of room available backstage for future expansions, and hopefully it'll be a real big "Magic Kingdom" in the future. For Disney fans the park won't have too many new attractions too and if we do the count we have mainly Fantasia Carousel, Journey to the Crystal Grotto, Roaring Rapids, Pirates of Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, the Pirates stunt show, Tron Lightcycles Power Run and eventually Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, which makes six or seven new attractions only, but they include four new E-Tickets.

In conclusion, so far, just think about Shanghaî Disneyland as it is and not as SDL marketing dept will try to "sell" it to you, remember also that WDI Imagineers are doing their best, and if you don't put your expectations too high you should not be disappointed.

Editing:  Considering some of the comments to which i've answered, i would like to avoid any misunderstanding.  Basically, what i'm saying is: don't trust the number of lands to determine the size of Shanghaî Disneyland. SDL will be big, probably not as big as DLP at opening day - because it will lack a land ( Frontierland ) and the opening street won't be as big as Main Street U.S.A - though certainly much bigger than HKDL, but not as big as SDL marketing dept will "sell" it to you. But it's going to be such a different kind of Magic Kingdom that i , personally, can't wait to visit it.

Artworks : copyright Disney

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

But there is something interesting in your artikel..Adventure Isle will get Sorin..this could mean that the romours of Disneyland Paris could be real..the place next to Indiana Jones at Adventureland at DLPR could be home of the same version..

Alain Littaye said...

Of course it's real about DLP. It doesn't mean they will build for sure Soarin' in DLP Adventureland, but the rumor is absolutely real.

Jones said...

Hmm, I don´t know - it´s in Shanghai, so I will never see the park in person anyway - if I should ever decide that i have to much money on my hands, I would definitely go to Tokyo a 2nd time, and not to Shanghai - whatever they build, it will not come close to TDSea. Plus, breathing is a lot easier at Tokyo Bay than it is in Shanghai...

SWW said...

Have to disagree with you here, Alain.


1. SDL's size, scale and roster are on par with opening-day DLP or Tokyo DL. It will have more rides than DisneySea did in 2001 (5 E/Ds) and eclipse tiny 2005 HKDL (2 E/Ds).

2. Minimal direct cloning here (less than was seen at DLP, TDR or HKDL) for a castle park.

3. Like TDS, half of what makes a $4billion+ Disney theme park special is not the land or attraction count, or even the individual attractions (which are the other 50%) but the connective tissue: environments, architecture, details, atmosphere, mood, the harmonizing of the all the parts into a symphonic whole that just clicks.

4. Look at recent environments such as Carsland, new Harambe, new Fantasyland, Place de Remy, etc. to see current WDI's approach to environmental design... now apply this across an entire, brand new theme park. The park itself should be the main attraction.

***


If there was ever reason to get excited about theme park development since 2001 (TDS), this is it. I'm expecting it will blow some socks off.



Anonymous said...

Why not tell us more about Pirates? You post all kinds of other rumors, why is this on too special to share?

Alain Littaye said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alain Littaye said...

To SWW: I agree with you, but I just wanted to let the readers know what looks to me - wrong or right - more realistic in what will be include in the park to avoid any disappointment. And when i say "don't get too excited" i don't mean that the park is not going to be good, i'm absolutely sure it's going to be a great new kind of Magic Kingdom, but at least, if expectations are not too high in terms of new rides, they will avoid being disappointed.
As for the size of the park - and i mean the area where guests will move in and not the total acres of the park including unused land even it will be use in the future - i still doubt that it will be, for instance, the same than at DLP opening day, specially when there is the equivalent of 4 lands instead of five at DLP.

Answer to Anonymous: i don't want to tell more about SDL POTC because i really don't want to spoil it for everyone. It'll be the first time in nearly 50 years that there will be a real new version of POTC, and this won't happen again anytime soon, so i think it won't be cool to spoil it. Specially considering the very good ideas which are in this new version. And believe me, i know it since almost two years and its hard to keep the secret! But what i can say is that you're going to love it.

Anonymous said...

If you ever thought DLP was dirty (which it's not). Wait until you visit this one :)
I have been to China. And all I can say is "yuk" :(
Couldn't get used to al the spitting, littering, blowing their nose without a tissue. And I will spare you the details about the toilets, and how they leave it for next person to use.

Not for me. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Any idea on what's right above the Winnie the Pooh area? Almost looks like a Haunted Mansion-esk fascade.

J. Jeff Kober said...

Alain,

I think your blogs are great. I search them out nearly every day. If I spent less time reading yours, I'd have more time for writing mine. But yours are very informative. Thanks. By the way, I thought the Captain Jack Sparrow attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios was going to Shanghai. Was that your understanding?

Allan said...

Toy Story Land (or Playland) is exclusive to HKDL in Asia for 5 years from date of opening. Since it opened in November 2011, SHDL is therefore not allowed to open its version until November 2016. That means it probably won't open with the park and will open 0.5 years later, if we believe in the first quarter 2016 opening date.

Marco Antonio Garcia said...

Honestly anonymous, last time I've been to DLP a couple of months ago I thought that it was quite dirty for a Disney Park, and I'm not only talking about littering, but also about lack of park maintenance and cleaning, like cobwebs and moss near the unloading area of IASW, cobwebs in the Alice in Wonderland figures, and these kind of things.

I know that it could be something normal for other less renowned theme parks, but usually not for Disney Parks, which are more expensive and strive for quality and cleanliness.

And yes, I've also been to mainland China (sent by my company, so I've also visited factories in the countryside) and seen that some of their habits can be shocking for westerners; let's see how this park turns out...

Brian said...

Alain, you glossed over some of the big shows that are forthcoming. The Westside Performance Venue, which belongs to the hub. Once Upon a Time Adventure is the big E-ticket stageshow that is in the upper corner of Fantasyland (It's not a castle walkthrough). Treasure Cove has the Eastside Performance Venue. Adventure land has the Storehouse Stage (the big venue beside Soarin').

I'll ask you this question, do you not consider Mysterious Island in Tokyo Disney Sea a Land? Is it only half a land?

Because Adventureland and Treasure Cove both seperately contain more attractions, shows and venues than Mysterious Island. Same actually goes for virtually every land at TDS, very few of the Ports contain more than two real attractions.


One other quibble - I doubt it is the Disneyland version of Pooh, you must mean the HKDL/Magic Kingdom version as the DL one is quite abbreviated due to space limitations.

Anonymous said...

Alain,

thanks as always for your great blog, though I must disagree with you on this one. We have here a full size Disney theme park where the theming in just about every land is going to substantially different than all the other Magic Kingdoms. Two brand new E tickets - Roaring Rapids and Tron. One substantially new E ticket in Pirates, plus novel smaller rides like Crystal Cove. And the first castle with a fully fleshed out interior. I for one, await the opening of this park with great enthusiasm. Though it may be many years before I get to see it in person, I am ready for the internet eye candy once it opens.

- Tanzirian

Alain Littaye said...

To Jeff Kober: no, the DHS Captain Jack Sparrow attraction is not going to Shanghaî in itself but what was said , including by me, was that SDL POTC attraction might use the same technology that was used on this one. We'll see...

Alain Littaye said...

To Brian: no, i consider TDS Mysterious Island as a land, because it has everything to be a land. But i can also consider Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle as two lands. They do what they want, after all and saying that these two, for instance, will be two lands can be perfectly legitimate. What i'm saying is that SDL will try to sell the fact that there will be six lands ( as they count them ) to make people believe that it's a biiiig park. So, basically, what i'm saying is: don't trust the number of lands to determine the size of Shanghaî Disneyland. SDL will be big, probably not as big as DLP and certainly much bigger than HKDL, but not as big as SDL marketing dept will "sell" it to you. But it's going to be such a different kind of MK that i , personally, can't wait to visit it.

Colin Prijn said...

I actually love the park and i think that there are lots of new things to explore here but what's the building there all the way to the back in fantasyland, is that a theatre? Also there are rumors of an updated version of either pinocchio or alice in wonderland coming to sdl. I hope tomorrowland will look better in reality because I don't really like the looks of it now. Are there plans for a parade in this park? And last question what is that white tent between seven dwarfs mine train and shipwreck shore?