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.
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
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.
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.
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.
Fantasyland’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Clone
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.