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Soft opening trials got negative press of Chinese tourists behaving badly, similar to Hong Kong Disneyland’s opening. Park management will challenge Disney, though I am optimistic. Unlike Hong Kong, which Disney has had a half-hearted approach, the Shanghai park has been front and center of Disney CEO Robert Iger’s efforts for over a decade.
Will Shanghai Disneyland become the top overseas Disney park to visit?
I believe it has the potential to be Disney’s overseas jewel.
I have been to Disneyland Tokyo and Hong Kong, though not Paris. Tokyo is an immaculate Disney experience, which makes sense for a country that at times feels like Disney. Is it a near replica of Disneyland in California, the odd octopus dish aside, so for a US visitor, the experience is more to see a buttoned up version of the familiar California park than a new experience. Hong Kong, too, lacks significant differentiation from California and remains small. Both are fun to visit if already there rather than make a special trip.
How China Won the Keys to Disney’s Magic Kingdom (NYT) recounts Disney’s efforts to open in Shanghai under Mr. Iger’s mantra of ‘authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.’
- “The Shanghai resort, which will ultimately be four times as big as Disneyland, has a supersize castle, a longer parade than any of the other five Disney resorts around the world, and a vast central garden aimed at older visitors.”
- 80 percent of the rides are new, such as the Tron Lightcycle.
- Chinese elements such as trees from around the country and attractions such as the Wandering Moon Teahouse with rooms representing regions of China. China’s provinces have distinct identities, think in nearly European country terms, so showcasing them should be fun for visitors.
I can’t abide the absence of ‘It’s a Small World,’ otherwise I am happy to see new attractions rather the same old, same old, however endearing the originals are in their homes.
If it was yet another homage to California I wouldn’t make the effort. Now I am interested to go on my next visit to Shanghai.
Planning a visit? Avoid Chinese holidays, which is not so easy as it sounds. Every year the Chinese government announces holidays in mid-December. When I worked in China we would wait for news in December of upcoming solar and lunar New Year holidays, then rush to book when announced. Even when holidays are stable year-to-year, the convoluted way of switching some weekend days to work days and vice versa is confusing for everyone. The 2016 calendar is here.
Readers, are you interested to give Shanghai Disneyland a try?