Wednesday, May 29, 2019

D&M Exclusive: Shanghaî Disneyland Update: Zootopia Land, Marvel Land, Star Wars Land, and more

I have for you today some exclusive infos about the future of Shanghaî Disneyland park but, first, i have to apologize for a big mistake i did recently in the article HERE about the location of the Marvel land envisioned for Shanghaî Disneyland, as i had totally forgot the already announced Zootopia land!!!

The Zootopia land will be Shanghaî Disneyland’s eighth themed land,  the first-ever “Zootopia” land at any Disney theme park and will be built on the available land behind Winnie the Pooh and Pirates of Caribbean show building,  see the plan below on which the red line encircled the area for the Zootopia land. Which of course reduce quite a lot the land that i had encircled for a Marvel land in the previous article.

Before talking further about what will be the awaited Zootopia attraction, here are some pictures posted recently by a Chinese fan, showing the fences now in place at Shanghaî Disneyland for Zootopia construction. 

Now, you probably noticed that the area encircled in red for the Zootopia land is a pretty big one,  in fact you could put in it three show buildings like the one on the right of SDL Pirates of Caribbean attraction, which is a huge one. We know, thanks to the concept-art below, that they'll build a huge backdrop decor for Zootopia buildings as well as shops and restaurant but why would they need such a big space for the E-Ticket ride - as Zootopia will have only one attraction? 

The land description released by Disney didn't tell a lot about the attraction itself but simply said "Guests will be invited to experience the mammalian metropolis of Zootopia “where anyone can be anything,” with a new major attraction that will seamlessly blend Disney storytelling and state-of-the-art technology to bring this fan-favorite movie and its characters to life – including Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde. Entertainment, merchandise, and food and beverage offerings will invite guests to fully immerse themselves in the Academy-Award-winning animated movie".

If you've seen the animated film you know that the "real" Zootopia is supposed to be huge and it's of course impossible for Disney Imagineers to build all of it. On the other hand this buddy cop movie had a great script but the sequence that everyone remember the most is the great scene at the start showing a monorail running all over Zootopia with Judy Hopps, and arriving at Zootopia's train station. I mean: this sequence below, watch it, it's important for what is coming next:

Now,  here it is: from what i've been told the Zootopia attraction will be an indoor E-Ticket ride with a "monorail vehicle type”, most certainly looking like the one in the movie, and, as it is of course out of question that Disney will create an indoor ride with a real monorail, the Imagineers found a different way to give to Shanghaî Disneyland guests the illusion they travel through Zootopia. How, you ask? Remember the King Kong or Fast and Furious rides at Universal Studios, with guests inside a tram going through a long tunnel with 3D projections on each side? Well, from what i've heard the Zootopia ride will be like this, not with a tram of course but with a Zootopia theming, in addition to a dark ride portion with Audio-Animatronics - as it would be difficult to do a land based on Zootopia without Audio-Animatronics animals, right?

My guess - but what is below was not told to me and is just my guess so i can be wrong here - is that the ride will partly recreate this short travel through Zootopia as seen in the movie, up to the point when eventually "something will go wrong", as i think they can't have a visual travelogue only during the whole ride, something a bit more thrilling must happen. But the question in fact is this one: will SDL guests need to embark first in the monorail to access "Zootopia", then arrive to Zootopia's train station like in the movie and then enter the land - which would be the smartest way to give the illusion that you arrived in a real Zootopia - or: will the guests enter the land as they do usually, simply by walking inside it, and then the ride will provide them a look all around Zootopia? The first option might be difficult on a guest flow point of view ( though Universal somewhat did it with the Hogwarts Express bringing guests to IOA Wizarding World and it works perfectly - even if the technology is not the same as it is a train really moving ) but i still think that the first option would be the best - we'll see...

That said, even if the monorail designed attraction vehicle won't move on a one km long track like the Hogwarts Express, it still will need to move at least some few hundred meters to enter the part with the projections on each side. Which would explain why the land ( the one circled in red on the Google Earth capture above ) is quite long as the "monorail" will need - after entering the part with the projections - to come back to a station one way or another.

And they might also need to build two different "train stations",  specially in my first option, one for the start, one for the arrival at Zootopia. Will SDL Imagineers recreate the train station like the one in the movie? - pictures below - that would be a smart idea, after all Universal did it with the Hogwarts Express train station in Diagon Alley... And i remind you that Shanghaî Disneyland is the only Disney "Magic Kingdom" with NO railroad, so this ride could be a chance to introduce one which will give SDL guests at least the illusion of a train ride...

Once arrived, guests will find themselves inside Zootopia as shown on the official rendering below., with themed shops and restaurants. A good idea by the way, if guests will need to take the "monorail" to enter the land ( first option described above ) and to take it back again to return to "reality", would be to have a different kind of projections during the ride back, like Universal do in the Hogwarts Express when guests come back from Islands of Adventure Wizarding World to Diagon Alley... That's what i would do personally, but may be we're asking too much... Not to mention that i can be totally wrong and that SDL Imagineers may have planned something totally different for the ride inside the monorail, so as usual consider all this as a rumor until announced officially, may be we'll learn more in August at the next D23.

That was for Zootopia, let's talk now about the Marvel land for Shanghaî Disneyland and what i've heard about it. As said in the previous article Bob Iger announced recently that they intend to do a big Marvel land at Shanghaî Disneyland. You can see on the above Google Earth capture that, even after Zootopia will be built, they'll still have land available on the left of it. It could be big enough for a Marvel land but probably not big enough for what Bob Iger has in mind. So, guess what, from what i've heard the plan is to build the Marvel Land in Shanghaî Disneyland SECOND park ...scheduled to open in 2031, 15 years after the first park which opened in 2016.

But eventually the second park could open before, but not before 2029. Why 2029? Because in the meantime the Marvel land at Hong Kong Disneyland will be finished and HKDL will have an exclusivity on the big E-Ticket Avengers ride during 5 years. So, Shanghaî Disneyland second park is scheduled for 2031 but there’s apparently an option to start the works by 2026 which, with 3 years of construction, will bring its opening to 2029, and will resolve the question of HKDL 5 years exclusivity on the Avengers ride - the one on the artwork below.

Wait, as, as you might expect they're not going to build Shanghaî Disneyland second park with one Marvel land only, as big as it might be. So, the idea - at least for now as plans can change at Disney as we know - is to build also a Star Wars land in the second park - yes, the dream of Disney fans to have a brand new park with both Marvel and Star Wars land in it instead than having like at Disneyland Resort a Star Wars land in Disneyland and a Marvel land in California Adventure might become a reality at Shanghaî Disneyland... And if the Avatar sequels happen to be succesful in China i personally won't be surprised if a Pandora land would be also added in SDL second park... That said, note that nothing is set in stone for SDL second park, though all the ( many ) ideas bouncing around have a Marvel and a Star Wars land included in SDL second park. Not totally sure, though, that they both stick as apparently some big Imagineers think that having both lands in the same park is a waste... so, we'll see.

But we're not done yet, as things gets even more complicated because Disney is currently trying to decide where to build first the next Star Wars land in Asia Tokyo Disneyland was supposed to get it ( it would be built behind Tomorrowland on part of the remaining parking lot ) but Oriental Land - who still have to pay for the Beauty and the Beast land and TDS Fantasy Springs - would apparently prefer to wait for a better Japanese economy... Last week, for the "Fantasy Springs" groundbreaking ceremony and name announcement, you've seen on the picture released by Oriental Land that Bob Iger and Philippe Gas were both at Tokyo Disney Resort, with OLC President and others TDR executives and some of you who know that Philippe Gas is Shanghaî Disney Resort President may have been surprised to see him there. Well, in fact Philippe Gas is no longer Shanghaî Disney Resort President since March and he is now "Walt Disney Attractions Japan and Disneyland International" President - it is Joe Shot ( previously Chief Operating Officer - Senior Vice President at Disneyland Paris ) who is now President / General Manager of Shanghaî Disney Resort. And apparently Bob Iger and Philippe Gas were not only in Tokyo for Fantasy Springs groundbreaking ceremony but also for talks and eventually convince Oriental Land executives to bring a Star Wars land at Tokyo Disneyland. As for what decision went out of the discussions, sorry, but i'm afraid you'll have to wait for an official announcement.

Pictures: copyright Disney, Google

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