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