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
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 Has A Mix Of Old And New Attractions
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!