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What You Need To Know About ‘Star Wars Land’

Current Disneyland Boundary With Projected Star Wars Land Outline

A long time ago in theme park really, really close…

… Disney CEO Bob Iger unveiled a new ‘Star Wars Land’ for Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. In this post, I’ll dive into everything we know about this new Disney ‘Land’ here in California, including a few educated guesses on how it might look.

Keep on reading!

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Where Will ‘Star Wars Land’ Be Built At Disneyland?

Backstage Areas Being Removed For Star Wars Land?

The world of Star Wars is heading to Disneyland, starting next year.

Let’s take a look at it’s likely location and what will need to go in order for us to visit a galaxy far, far away.

What Will Be Removed For ‘Star Wars Land’?

Disney has already announced the removal or relocation of several developed areas. The following locations will definitely be going away: Keep on reading!

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Adventure Isle at Shanghai Disneyland 4-14 |Monday MapDay

Adventure Isle in Shanghai Disneyland.

Adventure Isle in Shanghai Disneyland.
Adventure Isle in Shanghai Disneyland.

The last new land unique to Shanghai Disneyland (SDL) is Adventure Isle. Combined with the pirate-themed area of Treasure Cove, it’s like a ‘plussed up’ version of the Adventureland we’re all used to with a few, somewhat different ride offerings.

A New Land With ‘Kind Of New’ Attractions

Adventure Isle outlined (green) with all building overlays in Shanghai Disneyland.
Adventure Isle outlined (green) with all building overlays in Shanghai Disneyland.

Adventure Isle is located in the far West corner of SDL, immediately to the right of Mickey Avenue, the space usually occupied by Tomorrowland in every other Disneyland-style theme park. It will be a jungle themed area, contrasting with the seaside coves and villages of Treasure Cove next door and you can see from the image above that these two areas will take up a sizable part of the park.

Adventure Isle in Shanghai Disneyland without overlays.
Adventure Isle in Shanghai Disneyland without overlays.

 Adventure Isle in Shanghai Disneyland.
Adventure Isle in SDL.

Two major attractions will anchor Adventure Isle: Roaring Rapids and Soarin’ Over The Horizon.

Roaring River Rapids

Roaring Rapids in Adventure Isle at Shanghai Disneyland.
Roaring Rapids in Adventure Isle at Shanghai Disneyland.

Originally called ‘Lost World Roaring Rapids,’ this massive water ride will take guests on a rafting trip through a gigantic show-building, reportedly populated by animatronic dinosaurs. The ‘Lost World’ portion of the original title might refer to the book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, where an expedition finds a section a plateau in the Amazon populated by Dinosaurs and other extinct creatures.

I hope Imagineers will craft a story heavily influenced by this great book. Imagine that you’re a part of the expedition itself and you just happen to float through this prehistoric land when something goes terribly wrong and you have to escape back to civilization, barely escaping a deadly fate.

Book jacket for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's 'The Lost World.'
Book jacket for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s ‘The Lost World.’

If the Roaring Rapids ride concept sounds familiar, that’s because it’s been used and recycled through many Disney rides and movies we all know and love. The ‘Lost World’ concept directly relates to the Disney/Pixar movie ‘UP’ where two unwitting characters happen upon an ancient South American mesa, populated by dangerous and never before seen creatures.

Though Roaring Rapids is constructed on a grander scale, Imagineers have already built several rafting rides at Disney resorts with a moderate amount of detail. At Disney California Adventure we have Grizzly River Run, the longest, tallest, and fastest river rapids ride in the world, but with little extra Disney theming (though there are rumors this will change soon).

The Animal Kingdom is home to Kali River Rapids, which is also a great ride but weak in the theme department. Will Roaring Rapids do a better job of fascinating and immersing guests in a story line as well as getting them soaking wet?

Carnotaurus from Disney's Dinosaur attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
Carnotaurus from Disney’s Dinosaur attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

If dinosaurs are to play a part in this new ride, I’d expect the animatronics to be similar if not identical to those in the Dinosaur attraction, also at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. In fact, some of the first rumors about Roaring Rapids had a Carnotaurus chasing guests through the jungle, which is exactly story of the ride in Florida. Also, let’s not forget about the original Disney dinosaur attraction, the Primeval World diorama from Disneyland.

Disneyland Primeval World attraction poster ©Disney
Disneyland Primeval World attraction poster ©Disney

Speaking of being identical, you might be asking yourself, “isn’t there already a dinosaur-themed river rapids ride somewhere already?” Yes there is, but it’s at Universal Studios in Hollywood. Called Jurassic Park©- The Ride, this water attraction is essentially everything I described above, but with the more technology run amok theme of the Jurassic Park books than a hopeful, promise of the future, Vernian theme of ‘The Lost World.’

Roaring Rapids will also be the only (or first) Disney ‘mountain’ in Shanghai Disneyland. As you may recall, when the original Disneyland was built, there weren’t any mountain themed attractions.

The birth of the Disney mountain range began in 1959 with the construction of the Matterhorn and continued with Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain, as well as other ‘mountains’ in other resorts across the globe. Can we expect similar attraction ‘tectonic activity’ at the Shanghai Disney Resort?

Soarin’ Over The Horizon

Soarin' Over The Horizon in Adventure Isle at SDL.
Soarin’ Over The Horizon in Adventure Isle at SDL.

As I said above, the second major ride in Adventure Isle will be Soarin’ Over The Horizon. Guests will ride in suspended rack of seats, flying a hang glider over the Earth.

A direct reboot of the original attraction Soarin’ Over California in Disney California Adventure, the Shanghai version will use the same ride system with different movie scenes from across the planet. It’s exciting and relieving that Disney is finally upgrading the Soarin’ ride. I love the original, but it’s been running the same footage at DCA since 2001 and in its EPCOT clone since 2005.

I don’t think the Soarin’ ride in California will change to the world footage, because it’s showcasing the theme of the entire park, but rumor has it that EPCOT get an upgrade. A flight specifically over the Golden State has always been out-of-place there and a more all-encompassing and all-embracing journey around the globe is a better fit for the nearby lands of the EPCOT World Showcase.

Roaring Rapids Versus Enchanted Storybook Castle

3D view of Adventure Isle with Enchanted Storybook Castle.
3D view of Adventure Isle with Enchanted Storybook Castle.

Like everything else in SDL, it looks like Adventure Isle will be dwarfed by the Enchanted Storybook Castle. Roaring Rapids in particular, though, looks like it might be large enough to stand on its own.

If the entire area is immersed in a jungle atmosphere, with thick trees and other foliage, that combined with the Rapids structure might be enough to cover up the castle and leave the rugged adventure theming intact.

3D view across Adventure Isle looking towards Enchanted Storybook Castle.
3D view across Adventure Isle looking towards Enchanted Storybook Castle.

Conclusion

While not an entirely new creation, Adventure Isle is different enough to remain mysterious but familiar enough to be comfortable for the seasoned guest. I can’t wait to see what it looks like when it’s finished!

What do you think about this ‘new’ land in Shanghai? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland 4/14 | Monday MapDay

3D view from Treasure Cove looking towards Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disneyland.

Treasure Cove in Shanghai Disneyland with building overlays. April 2014
Treasure Cove in Shanghai Disneyland with building overlays. April 2014

Shanghai Disneyland is adding a few new lands to the Disney map, including Mickey Avenue and Adventure Isle. Today we’ll look at another new area, the first truly pirate-themed land on planet Disney, Treasure Cove.

The Adventurous Side Of The Park

Shanghai Disneyland land outlines with Treasure Cove highlighted.
Shanghai Disneyland land outlines with Treasure Cove highlighted.

While the middle section of Shanghai Disneyland (SDL), from the entrance through the Garden of the Twelve Friends to Fantasyland, will have a whimsical feel, the entire West side of Shanghai Disneyland seems to be built with a more extreme theme in mind.

Treasure Cove outline in Shanghai Disneyland.
Treasure Cove outline in Shanghai Disneyland.

Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle will be more like big-boy lands, encompassing the rugged promises of Adventureland other Disney parks don’t really deliver (for better or worse). It’s as if Imagineers are capitalizing on this opportunity to remake their theme park reputation in a land that doesn’t have the ‘polite-thrill’ image of Disney rides ingrained in its culture yet.

Treasure Cove with Enchanted Storybook Castle at SDL.
Treasure Cove with Enchanted Storybook Castle at SDL.

3D view from Treasure Cove looking towards Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disneyland.
3D view from Treasure Cove looking towards Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disneyland.

Like the everything else in the park, the Enchanted Storybook Castle will dwarf everything in Treasure Cove. I wonder how they’ll work this fairy tale monument into the grittier pirate atmosphere.

3D View of Shanghai Disneyland with Treasure Cove
3D View of Shanghai Disneyland with Treasure Cove

A Different Pirates Of The Caribbean Ride And Stunt Show

Pirates of the Caribbean at Treasure Cove in Shanghai Disneyland.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure at Treasure Cove in Shanghai Disneyland.

Treasure Cove will be home to several new pirate attractions. The first, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure, is a new spin on the POTC we all know and love from other Disneyland-style parks. Expect a lot more Captain Jack Sparrow and a lot less 60’s magic on this one.

Pirate's Stunt Show Theater & Retention Pond in Shanghai Disneyland.
Pirate’s Stunt Show Theater & Retention Pond in Shanghai Disneyland.

Another confirmed addition is a Pirate-themed Stunt Show Spectacular. Other than the fact that it will exist, almost nothing else is known about this show right now.

3D View of Pirates of the Caribbean and Pirate Stunt Show Theater at SDL.
3D View of Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure and Pirate Stunt Show Theater at SDL.

The last rumored Treasure Cove attraction is tentatively called ‘Explorer Canoes,’ which might be a Caribbean copy of Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes already found at several Disney parks. If this ride is eventually constructed, it might be in the large, now empty area near the Garden of the Twelve Friends.

Water Retention Pond in Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland.
Water Retention Pond in Treasure Cove at Shanghai Disneyland.

At the back of Treasure Cove there’s a large water pond. It’s not yet clear what this could be for, but I suspect its a storage basin for the park dark water system. Like it’s counterpart at the original Disneyland, I think the pond will be the recycling point for water between all the lakes and water attractions in SDL. I’ve included a picture of the Anaheim Disneyland dark water system for reference.

The original Disneyland's dark water system for moving water throughout the park. It starts at the Rivers of America, runs through Fantasyland, through the castle moat, into the Jungle Cruise, and back into the Rivers of America.
The original Disneyland’s dark water system (orange) for moving water throughout the park. It starts at the Rivers of America, runs through Fantasyland, through the castle moat, into the Jungle Cruise, and back into the Rivers of America.

Conclusion

Treasure Cove looks like it’ll be a great place to soak in some Imagineering pirate-theming and a few great new attractions. Along with the Tron lightcycle roller coaster in Tomorrowland, this area will definitely be on my shortlist when I visit Shanghai Disneyland someday.

What do you think about Disney’s new land? What’s the new Pirates of the Caribbean going to look like? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Fantasyland at Shanghai Disneyland 4/14 | Monday MapDay

Front 3D view of Fantasyland behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle at SDL.

Shanghai Disneyland's Fantasyland
Shanghai Disneyland’s Fantasyland

One item that every Disneyland-style theme park has is a Fantasyland, and Shanghai Disneyland (SDL) is no exception. There’s a lot of rumors about what the latest incarnation might hold, so we’ll take a look at what’s actually there now and mix the few facts we do know with some educated guesses.

The Newest Fantasyland Sits Behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle

Overhead view of Mickey Ave, Tomorrowland, the Garden of the Twelve Friends, and Fantasyland at SDL.
Overhead view of Mickey Ave, Tomorrowland, the Garden of the Twelve Friends, and Fantasyland at SDL.

Like its predecessors, SDL’s Fantasyland will lie directly behind the castle. Entry to the land will be similar to the Magic Kingdom, where guests will have to walk around the performance stage on the hub side to walk through the castle structure.

Fantasyland at Shanghai Disneyland sits directly behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
Fantasyland at Shanghai Disneyland sits directly behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle.

This is different from Sleeping Beauty Castle in the original Disneyland, where you can walk straight up and through into the courtyard beyond with any side trips. As an aside, I prefer the latter style of castle design. It gives to whole park a more cozy, accessible feel, like you’re part of a large family that’s welcoming you into their magic land. Instead, the version being constructed, as well as the one in Florida, project exclusion a little bit of snobbery. I’m sure a bunch of people will disagree, but I’m a SoCal boy, so I’m admittedly biased.

Shanghai Disneyland's Fantasyland without overlays.
Shanghai Disneyland’s Fantasyland without overlays.

As you can see from this 3D image, the Enchanted Storybook Castle will tower over Fantasyland like the rest of the park. This might be a good thing on hot summer days, when it will throw a huge shadow over half of the area in the afternoon.

Front 3D view of Fantasyland behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle at SDL.
Front 3D view of Fantasyland behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle at SDL.

Fantasyland’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Clone

Route for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Shanghai Disneyland's Fantasyland.
Route for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Shanghai Disneyland’s Fantasyland.

One of the few rides that’s certain to be in the newest Fantasyland is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Recently completed at the Magic Kingdom, the new one in Shanghai will probably be a direct clone. Look at the comparison picture between the two rides below and you’ll notice a nearly identical track design between attractions.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom next to Shanghai Disneyland's. Notice the similarity in track layout.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom next to Shanghai Disneyland’s. Notice the similarity in track layout.

The mine train ride is a low-intensity roller coaster, combined with a section of dark-ride, where you can see the dwarfs dig for gems. There isn’t a lot of dialogue in this section, mostly grunts and guffaws. As you climb a lift at the end of the mine, the characters break into the famous ‘Heigh-Ho’ song and march you down the next hill.

I doubt that Disney will recreate this iconic song in Chinese, so I think we can count on the ride be exactly what we see in Florida. If you haven’t been on the ride yet, check out this ride-through video of the attraction in Florida.

A first, I thought it was weird that Disney was recreating an attraction in China based on an old animated film. I often hear that China is very exclusionary about allowing foreign films into their markets and that most people there hadn’t seen the classic Disney films we all grew up with (which accounts for a lot of the differences in attractions in Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland).

I guess Disney is/has been trying to make up for lost time as it were, by introducing classic films that can be completely new again to a culture that hasn’t been exposed to them before. A simple Google search found a copy of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs dubbed in Mandarin Chinese, which I have no doubt will be sold at a gift shop next door to the mine train ride.

Conclusion

Rear 3D view of Fantasyland at SDL with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on the left.
Rear 3D view of Fantasyland at SDL with Seven Dwarfs Mine Train on the left.

As far as other Fantasyland rides, shops, attractions go, your guess is as good as anyone else’s. The rumor mill says there will be rides based on Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, and Alice in Wonderland. We’ll have to wait a while longer to see what surprises the other buildings will hold.

I have no doubt there will be some version of a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in Fantasyland, starting the inevitable process of Disney-fying whole new generations of Chinese girls. I’m also sure the nearby Treasure Cove will have a Pirate’s League for the boys. It’ll be great to see the cultural impacts of this in years to come.

Will a simple set of movies, rides, and gift shops give humanity a common point-of-reference? Will it become the mutual goal of Man to visit a Disney them park at least once in our lifetimes, a goal now more attainable for a billion more people?

3D view of Mickey Ave, Tomorrowland, the Garden of the Twelve Friends, and Fantasyland at SDL.
3D view of Mickey Ave, Tomorrowland, the Garden of the Twelve Friends, and Fantasyland at SDL.

These last two images are mostly just for perspective, to give you an idea of how Shanghai Disneyland is unfolding. Fantasyland sits behind the castle at the rear of the park, directly opposite Mickey Avenue and the Garden of the Twelve Friends. SDL’s Tomorrowland lies counter-clockwise to the East.

Front 3D view of Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, the Garden of the Twelve Friends, and Fantasyland at SDL.
Front 3D view of Mickey Avenue, Tomorrowland, the Garden of the Twelve Friends, and Fantasyland at SDL.

I went off-topic a lot in this article, but I guess I’m feeling philosophical today. Thanks for reading and if you haven’t read them already, check out all our articles on Monday MapDay in general and Shanghai Disneyland in particular. We’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Tomorrowland at Shanghai Disneyland 4/14 | Monday MapDay

3D side view of Tomorrowland at SDL.

Tomorrowland is one of possibly seven opening-day lands at Shanghai Disneyland.
Tomorrowland is one of possibly seven opening-day lands at Shanghai Disneyland.

Every Disneyland-style theme park has a some version of a Tomorrowland and, when it opens in 2015/16, so will Shanghai Disneyland (SDL). However, like so many details at this second Chinese park, the SDL version of this area will have more than a few differences from the others. Let’s take a look.

Shanghai’s Tomorrowland Is In The Wrong Place

Tomorrowland sits in the Southeastern corner of Shanghai Disneyland.
Tomorrowland sits in the Southeastern corner of Shanghai Disneyland.

The first thing that sets Shanghai’s Tomorrowland apart is its physical location in the park.

Every other Tomorrowland lies on the right side of the park, to the right as you enter the hub at the end of Main Street. Shanghai Disneyland’s sits on the left side of the park, immediately left as you enter the Garden of the Twelve Friends at the end of Mickey Avenue.

I’ve included a picture from the original Disneyland from reference. Tomorrowland is circled in green.

Tomorrowland at the original Disneyland sits immediately to the right of Main Street, USA.
Tomorrowland at the original Disneyland sits to the right of Main Street, USA.

Tomorrowland Has A Mix Of Old And New Attractions

The Jet Packs, Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, and Stitch Encounter attractions in Tomorrowland.
The Jet Packs, Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, and Stitch Encounter attractions in Tomorrowland.

Other than its singular location, the SDL version of Tomorrowland will have a mix of classic and unique attractions come opening day.

The first ride you’ll see will be the Jet Packs, which will be an updated version of the Rocket Jets ride that has existed in one form or another in Disneyland-style parks since 1955. Guests will probably ride in rocket-themed cars that fly through the air, attached via long arms to a spinning base in the middle. Look at the Disneyland Astro Oribtor to get the general idea.

Next to the Jet Packs will be a large building housing two attractions: Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue and the Stitch Encounter. I would expect these rides to be mostly clones as well, though heavily themed and influenced to mainland Chinese taste.

Every Disney resort, other than the original in California, has a Stitch Encounter type of ride and no doubt the one in Shanghai will be very similar.

The same can also be said for the Buzz Lightyear ride, except that even the original Disneyland has a copy of that ride. Rumor has it that the Shanghai version of the now classic ride will use different technology than its forebears.

While I’m sure it will be a point-and-shoot style of ride like the others, perhaps the Imagineers are using the ‘local positioning system‘ style of ride navigation (like in Pooh’s Hunny Hunt) instead of the traditional omnimover system (like in the Haunted Mansion). It would be neat to have the ablity to steer your space vehicle all over the place on your way through the ride, instead of being locked into a single course of action.

I’d also expect the Buzz attraction to be more heavily themed, with a better story line within the ride itself, than it’s predecessors, which kind of resemble modern-day carnival attractions.

The Tron Lightcycles Power Run ride fills up about half of Tomorrowland at SDL.
The Tron Lightcycles Power Run ride fills up about half of Tomorrowland at SDL.

Arena E will be your standard stage and performance venue. They’ll probably have a series of daily themed shows, bands, and acts playing this area, like the Tomorrowland Stage at Disneyland.

3D side view of Tomorrowland at SDL.
3D side view of Tomorrowland at SDL.

The real gem of Shanghai’s Tomorrowland is the TRON Lightcycle Power Run attraction. Unique to SDL (to my dismay), the ride will be an indoor/outdoor roller coaster themed to the grid-world of the movie TRON.

I absolutely can’t wait to ride it and this single attraction is probably the main reason I’ll have to visit Shanghai Disneyland someday (unless they build one closer to home). There aren’t many details out yet about this coaster, but I’d expect it to be similar in feel to Space Mountain and the Aerosmith Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster, mixed with the angular simplicity of the newly themed interior to Test Track at EPCOT.

Imagine riding a dark, indoor roller coaster, blasting through the game grid as programs buzz all around you in their lightcycles, all to the awesome Daft Punk score from TRON:Legacy.

It gives me goosebumps! We do know that the ride is being built by Vekoma, a Dutch company that makes a bunch of different types of ride systems. One rumor in particular says the TRON Lightcycle ride will be a version of Vekoma’s Motor Bike Launch Coaster, where you are actually strapped into a group of motorcycles sitting on top of a steel track. This looks and sound awesome!

Tomorrowland Sits In The Shadow Of Storybook Castle

3D side view of Tomorrowland at SDL from the Garden of the Twelve Friends.
3D side view of Tomorrowland at SDL from the Garden of the Twelve Friends.

These last few pictures give you a perspective of where Tomorrowland sits in relation to the front of Shanghai Disneyland, particularly Mickey Avenue and the Garden of the Twelve Friends.

You can see how Storybook Castle will really dwarf everything around it and I wonder how this will affect the theming of the rest of the park, with Tomorrowland in particular. I’m afraid Imagineers will go to a bunch of trouble to place you in a far off world or digital frontier and then you’ll look over and see this totally out-of-place fairy tale castle, ruining the illusion. Only time will tell if I’m right.

Entire front area of Shanghai Disneyland, including Tomorrowland, Mickey Avenue, and the Garden of the Twelve Friends, with 3D buildings.
Entire front area of Shanghai Disneyland, including Tomorrowland, Mickey Avenue, and the Garden of the Twelve Friends, with 3D buildings.

Conclusion

While Shanghai’s Tomorrowland will start with a few standard clone rides, the new TRON Lightcycle attraction will definitely make it worth visiting. I’m sure Disney will add more a bunch of regional touches to the land as well, so it won’t feel like a direct copy of Disneyland or the Magic Kingdom.

That’s all for today. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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The Garden of the Twelve Friends at SDL 4/14 | Monday MapDay

Overhead map of the Garden of the Twelve Friends, under construction in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14
Overhead map of the Garden of the Twelve Friends, under construction in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14

All Disney theme parks built in the Disneyland-style share similar components, but with a regional flavor. At Shanghai Disneyland (SDL), instead of entering the park along Main Street, USA, you find Mickey Avenue.

And instead of entering the simple hub of the park, at SDL you find a uniquely Chinese creation: The Garden of the Twelve Friends.

Gardens Themed To The Twelve Signs Of The Chinese Zodiac

After passing through Mickey Avenue, the first land you’ll find is The Garden of the Twelve Friends. It’s an 11-acre park area, comprising scenic ponds, tree-lined walkways, several rides, and at least one gazebo. At the very end of the garden, and directly opposite the entrance to the park, sits the massive Enchanted Storybook Castle.

The center of the hub-and-spoke system of pathways for Shanghai Disneyland, the garden will be themed to the 12 signs (characters) of the Chinese zodiacDecorative mosaic tiles, incorporating Disney/Pixar characters with the essence for each zodiac sign, will be found throughout the land.

Here’s a list of each sign and some Disney characters that could be used to represent it:

  • Rat (Remy from Ratatouille, Basil of Baker Street from the Great Mouse Detective, Bernard and Bianca from The Rescuers)
  • Ox (Babe the Big Blue Ox from Paul Bunyan)
  • Tiger (Shere Kahn from the Jungle Book, Rajah from Aladdin)
  • Rabbit (Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh, White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland)
  • Dragon (Mushu from Mulan, Maleficent from Sleeping Beauty)
  • Snake (Kaa from the Jungle Book)
  • Horse (Maximus from Tangled)
  • Sheep (??)
  • Monkey (King Louie from the Jungle Book, Kala from Tarzan)
  • Rooster (Alan-a-Dale from Robin Hood)
  • Dog (Lady or the Tramp, Bolt, Dogs from 101 Dalmatians, Dug from UP)
  • Pig (Hamm from Toy Story)

The Garden of the Twelve Friends was originally called the ‘Gardens of Imagination’ in early plans. In 2013, the Shanghai Disney Resort signed a multi-year agreement with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, leading to the name change and the later zodiac theme.

Fantasyland Rides Out In Front

Southern Portion of Garden of the Twelve Friends at Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14
Southern Portion of Garden of the Twelve Friends at Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14

At the front of the garden will be a ‘Storytellers’-type statue, either identical to the one in Disney California Adventure or at least very similar. As you enter the area, the Fantasia Carousel will be immediately on your right.

In yet another difference from typical Disneyland-style parks, rumor has it that this carousel will be entirely horses, but an entire menagerie of characters from many Disney films, including those from the movie Fantasia. How cool would it be to ride Pegasus or a Centaur?

Northern Portion of Garden of the Twelve Friends in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14
Northern Portion of Garden of the Twelve Friends in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14

In the back of the garden, closer to the castle, we find Dumbo the Flying Elephant. I’d expect this attraction to be very close in detail to the attraction of same name in Disneyland, rather than it’s recent, flashier sister in New Fantasyland at the Magic the Kingdom.

Ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends from the end of Mickey Avenue in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14
Ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends from the end of Mickey Avenue in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14

Enchanted Storybook Castle Is Huge

Side ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends in SDL. 4-14
Side ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends in SDL. 4-14

Massively, undeniably, the star of the garden is Enchanted Storybook Castle. Sitting at 197 feet, it easily dwarfs all other Disney park castles, not to mention Shanghai Disneyland itself.

I’ve included several Tron-looking 3D images, so you can get a feel of just how massive the castle will be in relation to the buildings around it.

Unlabeled side ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14
Unlabeled side ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends in Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14

Side ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends and Mickey Avenue buildings at SDL. 4-14
Side ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends and Mickey Avenue buildings at SDL. 4-14

I’ve also included an image looking down Mickey Avenue at Enchanted Storybook Castle.

Ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends from Floral Mickey along Mickey Avenue at Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14
Ground level view of the Garden of the Twelve Friends from Floral Mickey along Mickey Avenue at Shanghai Disneyland. 4-14

To put it’s size in perspective in another way, I’ve included an image comparing it to Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland. Sleeping Beauty Castle stands only 77 feet tall, almost one-third the size of the new Enchanted Storybook Castle!

Disneyland's Sleeping Beauty Castle versus Shandhai Disneyland's Enchanted Storybook Castle.
Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle versus Shanghai Disneyland’s Enchanted Storybook Castle.

Enchanted Storybook Castle will not only be bigger than all the others, it will have more in it as well, including princess meet-and-greets, shops, and places to eat.

Conclusion

It’s hard to imagine just how beautiful The Garden of the Twelve Friends will be. Being a uniquely Chinese creation, it’ll be interesting to see how Walt Disney Imagineering translates classic Disney/Pixar characters and ideas into a format that honors Chinese tradition while still be entertaining.

That’s it for this week. What do you think about The Garden of the Twelve Friends? Do you have any ideas about possible Disney characters that match with the Chinese zodiac? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Mickey Avenue at Shanghai Disneyland 4/14 | Monday MapDay

Shanghai Disneyland's Mickey Avenue, under construction as of 4-2014.
Shanghai Disneyland’s Mickey Avenue, under construction as of 4-2014.

Shanghai Disneyland is built on the model of the original Disneyland, using tried-and-true rules for park design and layout. However, unlike most other Disneyland-style theme parks, Shanghai Disneyland won’t have a Main Street, USA. It’ll have a Mickey Avenue.

Shanghai Disneyland’s Front Entrance

The only other Disney park without a Main Street is Tokyo Disneyland, where the main entrance street is the World Bazaar. Another Shanghai difference from the standard Disney park will be the style of Mickey Avenue.

According to rumor, Mickey Avenue will be built like Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland in California. Instead of having a gentile 1900’s atmosphere, the shops, storefronts, and ‘apartments’ of the avenue will belong Mickey and his friends. The building architecture will have a zany feel. Think ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit‘ and you’ll get the idea.

Shanghai Disneyland entrance area with Disney Town and lakefront walkway outlined (orange).
Shanghai Disneyland entrance area with Disney Town and lakefront walkway outlined (orange).

At the front entrance to Shanghai Disneyland is a large flat Esplanade, linking the park gates with the shopping area Disney Town and a lakefront walkway to the Resort Metro Station.

The esplanade entry plaza for Shanghai Disneyland 4-2014.
The Esplanade entry plaza for Shanghai Disneyland 4-2014.

Two ticket booths flank the entrance to Shanghai Disneyland. No doubt long lines of would-be guests will trail out into the Esplanade, either waiting to buy tickets or to get into the park. It’s not clear whether SDL will have the MyMagic+ method of entry, with wireless RFID wristbands, or standard turnstiles.

Projected location of park entrance buildings for Shanghai Disneyland as of 4-2014.
Projected location of park entrance buildings for Shanghai Disneyland as of 4-2014.

Like other Disney parks, SDL will have a large floral Mickey front and center to greet guests when they enter the park. The avenue will also probably be the only entrance and exit from the park. It’s seems that, with a completely blank slate from which to create, Disney planners would have provided for better traffic control and built two, parallel ways in and out of the park. Check out my plan for this idea at the original Disneyland.

Mickey Avenue Shops

3D mock-up of Shanghai Disneyland's Mickey Avenue and park entrance. 4-14
3D mock-up of Shanghai Disneyland’s Mickey Avenue and park entrance. 4-14

As I said, Mickey Avenue will have a more whimsical feel than its counterparts around the world. In this 3D view, you can see several buildings under construction on both sides of the street. These will house a lot of the standard shops and park administration buildings we’ve come to expect in parks like Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom.

Mickey Avenue will probably have a first aid and baby care center and stroller rentals. Restaurants themed for Chip and Dale, Pinocchio, and Timothy Mouse are also rumored, as well as a Carefree Corner. I would expect to see a ‘Main Street Emporium’ type of anchor store taking up a large part of one building, as well as various other gifts shops selling everything from t-shirts to kitchenware.

Conclusion

Mickey Avenue is really going to be something to see when it’s all over. It will combine traditional Disney traffic flow models by providing a single entrance and exit to the castle hub. However, instead of the sedate and stylish Victorian vibe you get from Main Street, USA, we’ll jump straight into the world of imagination with Mickey and his friends.

What do you think about the unique design plans for Mickey Avenue? Leave me a comment and let me know. That’s all for today. See ya’ real soon!

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Disney Town at Shanghai Disney Resort 4/14 | Monday MapDay

Disney Town area overview near Shanghai Disneyland.
Disney Town area overview near Shanghai Disneyland.

Disney resorts are built like a magical labyrinth, designed to keep guests on property and spending money their on Disney events, meals, and merchandise. The perfect example is Walt Disney World, where every conceivable Disney desire has been anticipated and provided for like a well-oiled machine.

By creating a proprietary shopping area and a variety of convenient transportation options, Disney planners have stuck to their tried-and-true methods and created a few more twists in the magical maze of the Shanghai Disney Resort (SDR).

Disney Town: Shanghai Disneyland’s Shopping Mall

Sitting next to the entrance for Shanghai Disneyland, Disney Town will have several restaurants and a movie theater.
Sitting next to the entrance for Shanghai Disneyland, Disney Town will have several restaurants and a movie theater.

Other than Hong Kong, every Disney resort has some kind of a ‘Downtown Disney’ type of shopping area, usually at the entrance to one or more theme parks. True to form, the SDR is getting its own shopping mall called Disney Town, which sits at the front entrance to Shanghai Disneyland and straddles the resort mass transit facilities.

Like other resorts across the world, Disney Town will have its own World of Disney store.
Like other resorts across the world, Disney Town will have its own World of Disney store.

When complete, Disney Town will host a number of themed restaurants, a World of Disney store, a multi-screen movie theater, and a Broadway-style theater.

Lots Of Mass Transit Options At The SDR

The Shanghai Disneyland Resort mass transit areas are still under construction.
The Shanghai Disneyland Resort mass transit areas are still under construction.

A large parking lot for buses, taxis and other mass transit vehicles sits directly to the West of Disney Town. To the East is the Shanghai Disney Resort Metro Station. Highly themed and built specifically for the resort, it will be the terminus for Metro Lines 2 and 11 and connect the SDR with urban Shanghai and surrounding areas.

Sitting on the lake in the center of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, Disney Town will be an important thoroughfare between the park entrance, hotels, bus parking, and metro station.
Sitting on the lake in the center of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort, Disney Town will be an important thoroughfare between the park entrance, hotels, bus parking, and metro station.

Disney Town is seated in a prime location. All guests visiting SDL from the bus parking lot or the Toy Story and Shanghai Disneyland Hotels will have to walk right past its shops on their way to the park.

The Shanghai Disneyland Resort has it's own metro station, just a short walk along the lake from the park entrance.
The Shanghai Disneyland Resort has its own metro station, just a short walk along the lake from the park entrance.

Also, a beautiful walkway will embrace the lakefront between Disney Town and the Metro Station, bringing foot traffic to Disney shops from there as well.

Conclusion

The shops and restaurants of Disney Town are a welcome addition to the SDR and round out the resort offerings. Similar to Walt Disney World, if you show up a day early or leave a day late, you’ll still be able to go someplace within the resort and get an extra dose of Disney.

Disney Town will also attract more local guests, who can take the train to the resort for a fun dinner without paying for a park ticket or fighting busy freeway traffic.

That’s it for this edition of Monday MapDay. Next week we’ll take a look inside Shanghai Disneyland itself and see what passes for Main Street USA in the new park. Thanks for reading and we’ll see ya’ real soon!

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Everything About Shanghai Disney Resort: Disneyland Hotel 4/14

The wings of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) hug the lakefront at the SDLR. No doubt guests will have a great view of Shanghai Disneyland across the water.

The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green).
The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green).

What makes a Disney resort a Disney resort?

There has to be more to it than the mere presence of a theme park. Is it the fancy fences? The clockwork precision of the parking lot trams? A Mickey Mouse picture on a sign somewhere?

While there are probably a thousand components that come together to create a singularly Disney resort (many of which we’ll discuss in other posts), one of these has to be the existence of a Disneyland Hotel.

The Disneyland Hotel

1960's Disneyland Hotel and Monorail
1960’s Disneyland Hotel and Monorail

Every Disney resort to date has some version of a Disneyland Hotel (DLH).

The original hotel is in Anaheim, California and opened in 1956, a year after the original Disneyland debuted. Walt did want to include a hotel when he opened the park, but funds were tight and he didn’t have any extra the money to do so. Initially built more like a vintage Holiday Inn motor lodge, with all outdoor rooms, the original DLH now features three recently renovated glass towers with a modern design.

Walt Disney World doesn’t specifically have a ‘Disneyland Hotel’ because it doesn’t specifically have a ‘Disneyland,’ but a Magic Kingdom. Several hotels opened along with that park in October 1981, but the real DLH-type property didn’t come along until the Grand Floridian in 1988.

The Disneyland Hotel in France, opened in 1992, was built right into Disneyland Paris and in fact sits over the entry gates. Next came the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel in 2005 and the Tokyo Disneyland Hotel in 2008.

All of these hotels, other than the original DLH, were built in the Victorian style and rumor has it we can expect the same from the next hotel in the series- the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (SDLH).

Shanghai Gets It’s Own Disneyland Hotel

The Southwest corner of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort from April 2014. All of the major construction elements are outlined, including the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) near the bottom right corner.
The Southwest corner of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort from April 2014. All of the major construction elements are outlined, including the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) near the bottom right corner.

The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel sits along the major North-South road that runs through the resort. The hotel is designed with two ‘u’ shaped wings. One wing embraces the lake shore in front of it, no doubt with spectacular views of Storybook Castle in Shanghai Disneyland across the water. The other wing embraces the parking lot.

Try to imagine which rooms will be more expensive.

Disney Grand Floridian Panoramic
Disney Grand Floridian Panoramic – Courtesy Moody Groove

How Big Is The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel?

Based on measurements of the building outline, each floor of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is about 122,000 sq ft.  If it were to have three floors, that’s over 360,000 sq ft!

That’s 8 acres or roughly the size of the Grand Floridian Hotel in Disney World. Following that train of thought, that would give the SDLH about 800 quests rooms, with an average size of 400 sq ft per room. The larger size of the hotel parking lot seems to verify this size estimate.

 

The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) sits along a main road in the Southern section of the SDLR.
The Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) sits along a main road in the Southern section of the SDLR.

As I mentioned above, the hotel will be built in a Victorian style, similar to the image above. If the SDLH is anything like its worldwide counterparts, we can expect it to be a luxurious establishment. All of the other Disneyland Hotel’s are rated 4 1/2 stars or better and have fine dining and shopping locations.

This will not be a bargain place to stay. For that, I recommend the Toy Story Hotel closer the park.

The wings of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) hug the lakefront at the SDLR. No doubt guests will have a great view of Shanghai Disneyland across the water.
The wings of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel (green) hug the lakefront at the SDLR. No doubt guests will have a great view of Shanghai Disneyland across the water.

When it’s finished, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel will really be something to see. And we’ll keep you updated with new construction imagery as it comes to us. Thanks for reading and see ya’ real soon!

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