The $5.5-billion Shanghai Disneyland set to open in June will blend a traditional Magic Kingdom-style theme park with attractions based on recent Disney and Pixar films more familiar to the Chinese audience.
Lacking familiar staples such as Space Mountain, It’s a Small World and Star Tours, the China park will feature a number of firsts including a Tron roller coaster and an entire land dedicated to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.
Disney stumbled with the launches of the under-budgeted and undersized California Adventure in 2001 and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2005. Since ground was broken in 2011, the scope and cost of the Shanghai project has continued to grow as Disney strives to build a distinctly Chinese park that quiets the critics and buoys the faithful.
Co-owned by the Chinese government and operated by Disney, the park is expected to draw from about 330 million people living within a three-hour drive or train ride from Shanghai when it officially opens June 16.
Let’s take a land-by-land look at all the rides, attractions and shows planned for Shanghai Disneyland:
Shanghai Disneyland swaps out the familiar turn-of-the-century Main Street USA with Mickey Avenue, where Disney characters are the proprietors of the businesses lining the entry promenade.
A Steamboat Mickey fountain serves as the park’s opening scene at the foot of Mickey Avenue.
Several storefronts will feature display kitchens, including Minnie Mouse’s Sweethearts Confectionery candy shop, Remy’s Patisserie bakery and Donald Duck’s Il Paperino gelato shop.
Souvenirs will be sold in the Avenue M Arcade, designed to look like the Carthay Circle Theater found at California Adventure in Anaheim.
The counter-service Mickey & Pals Market Cafe will include dining rooms themed to Mickey Mouse, Daisy Duck, the Three Caballeros and Lady and the Tramp.
Gardens of Imagination
A collection of seven distinct gardens, known collectively as the Gardens of Imagination, serves as the seven-acre central hub for the theme park.
The expanded size of the hub allows for two attractions in the gardens: Dumbo the Flying Elephant and the Fantasia Carousel. Unlike Disneyland’s medieval-themed King Arthur Carousel, the Shanghai ride will feature Pegasus horses inspired by the 1940 “Fantasia” film and a symphonic score. The Garden of the Magic Feather surrounds the Dumbo ride; the flowering trees of the Fantasia Garden encircle the carousel.
Disney-fied versions of every animal in the Chinese zodiac are represented in the Garden of Twelve Friends — with Remy serving as the rat, Tigger a tiger and Mushu a dragon. Disney Imagineers had to dig deep for the sheep, turning to the Jolly Holiday lambs from “Mary Poppins.”
Other gardens will be themed to music (Melody Garden), love (Romance Garden), nature (Woodland Garden) and the park’s centerpiece castle (Storybook Castle Garden).
The Wandering Moon Teahouse honors the restless and creative spirit of China’s wandering poets. Throughout the Shanghai Disneyland resort, the restaurants will feature fare that is 70% Chinese with the remainder of the menus made up of a mix of broader Asian and Western influences.
Mickey’s Storybook Express will wind through the gardens along the longest parade route in any Disney park. Led by a whimsical locomotive, the afternoon parade will feature train-car floats each themed to a different Disney film.
The gardens offer prime viewing for the nightly “Ignite the Dream” fireworks show which will include video-mapping imagery that wraps the castle. The show’s back story finds Mickey flying through the evening sky after discovering a magical spark that ignites his imagination.
The Enchanted Storybook Castle serves as the centerpiece of Shanghai Disneyland. Rather than paying tribute to a single princess like its predecessors, the Shanghai castle celebrates all Disney princesses. Marble statues in bas relief niches honor each of the princesses along a helix staircase. The upstairs Royal Banquet Hall full-service restaurant features princess-centric dining rooms themed to Mulan, Snow White, Aurora and Tiana.
The largest and tallest of the Disney castle includes the launch station for the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto boat ride that travels throughout Fantasyland past scenes from “Fantasia,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Aladdin,” “Mulan” and “Tangled.”
Also inside the castle, visitors will pass through a magic mirror portal to enter the Once Upon a Time Adventure walk-through attraction filled with animated scenes from “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.”
Elsewhere in Fantasyland, the fairy tale land will feature a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster, Winnie the Pooh dark ride, Honey Pot Spin teacup ride, Peter Pan’s Flight dark ride, Alice in Wonderland hedge maze and a “Frozen” singalong show.
The mine train is expected to be a carbon copy of Florida’s Magic Kingdom coaster. The Pooh dark ride will be similar to the Disneyland attraction rather than the superior Tokyo Disneyland version. The Pooh teacups will spin beneath a canopy of honey-dripping hives amid the sound of humming bees. The classic Peter Pan attraction will include a new inverted roller-coaster-style ride system featuring speed controls and flying pirate ships with room for six passengers. The whimsical maze will be the first Disney theme park attraction themed to Tim Burton’s live-action “Alice in Wonderland” film.
Fantasyland dining options will include the Pinocchio Country Kitchen pizza and pasta restaurant as well as the Tangled Tree Tavern based on a pub from the “Tangled” film.
The 60-mph Tron Lightcycle Power Run will be Tomorrowland’s marquee attraction and one of the faster rides at any Disney theme park. As part of the attraction’s back story, riders will be digitally scanned into the Tron video game and synced to their individual lightcycles on the Vekoma Motorbike launch coaster.
Fans will be able to pose for photographs with characters and browse through movie sets and props in the Star Wars Launch Bay and Marvel Universe, themed to two of Disney’s newest properties.
Other familiar Tomorrowland attractions will include the Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue dark ride, Stitch Encounter interactive show and Jet Packs spinning rocket ride (basically an updated version of Astro Orbitor with side-by-side seats).
The 900-seat Stargazer Grill will be the largest restaurant in the park and will include a stage with multi-level viewing areas for spectators.
Adventure Isle serves as Shanghai’s version of Adventureland without the movie set designer’s versions of Africa, Asia and South America found at other Magic Kingdom-style parks.
Instead, Adventure Isle will be set in a mythical cloud forest on the enchanted island of Arbori where the Earth connects with the sky.
Camp Discovery will serve as the centerpiece of the land with a fixed-rope course and challenge trails traversing the Apu Taku mountain peak. As part of the attraction’s back story, the League of Adventurers international expeditionary team leads explorers past waterfalls, caverns, gorges and suspension bridges. Small kids can search for buried ancient artifacts at a dig site known as Young Adventurer Training Camp.
The Roaring Rapids river rafting ride will be similar to Grizzly River Run at Disney California Adventure with riders journeying upriver to an ancient Arbori settlement and Field Camp Beta established by the League of Adventurers. The journey takes a detour when a tree falls across the river and the raft heads inside Roaring Mountain, where a reptilian creature called Q’araq awaits amid geyser and fire effects.
The “Tarzan: Call of the Jungle” show will feature Chinese acrobats incorporated into the story of the apeman housed in former expedition supply storehouse known as Storyhouse Stage.
Adventure Isle will also be home to an updated version of the newly named Soarin’ Over the Horizon flight simulator ride that includes footage of the Great Wall of China and the Shanghai skyline.
The Tribal Table restaurant lets visitors dine in a communal hall used by both the local Arbori people and the League of Adventurers.
Disney’s first pirate-themed land will be nestled in an 18th century Caribbean island harbor known as Treasure Cove. The pirate’s haven will be home to scoundrels and scallywags as well as a host of captains and mates from the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise, including Jack Sparrow, Hector Barbossa, Davy Jones and Joshamee Gibbs.
An updated version of the classic Pirates of the Caribbean water ride will serve as the focal point of Treasure Cove.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure will be housed inside an abandoned Spanish fortress dubbed Fort Snobbish where riders dive “under water” in search of a priceless treasure belonging to Davy Jones. Along the way, riders will encounter mermaids, a kraken, a ferocious sea battle and a sword fight finale between Captain Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones.
A new ride system will allow the boats to change direction, spin, react to special effects and trigger synchronized music. Some digital scenes will be projected on large media domes throughout the attraction.
Barbossa’s Bounty barbecue restaurant will offer view of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, much like Disneyland’s Blue Bayou.
Also in Treasure Cove, Jack Sparrow and a host of singing, dancing and carousing pirates will present the "Eye of the Storm" stunt show in El Teatro Fandango, a mansion and rum distillery turned into a theater.
At the Shipwreck Shore water play area, kids can hoist a flag, fire a cannon and visit a captain’s quarters aboard Captain Gibbs’ ship, the Siren’s Revenge.
Visitor-powered Explorer Canoes will connect Treasure Cove to Adventure Isle.
Shanghai’s version of the Downtown Disney shopping center will be broken into five districts: Broadway Plaza, Broadway Boulevard, Spice Alley, Marketplace and Lakeshore. The World of Disney anchor store will feature “magic mirrors” that let young girls virtually try on princess gowns.
One of the main draws of Disneytown will be a Mandarin-language, Broadway-style production of “The Lion King” in the 1,200-seat Walt Disney Grand Theatre.
The resort will be home to two hotels: the 400-room art nouveau Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the 800-room value-priced Toy Story Hotel.
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