Monday, May 30, 2016

D&M Exclusive : Shanghaî Disneyland Pictorial Report - Part One

It's with great pleasure that i welcome today as a new D&M contributor Alexis Lefranc, a faithful D&M reader. Thanks to Alexis we have the first D&M exclusive pictorial report on Shanghaî Disneyland, and with great pictures, shot last week during an incredible sunny day and a clear blue sky over the park! For Alexis, it was the second Disney park after his beloved Disneyland Paris and i let him now describe his visit and give us his feelings about Shanghaî Disneyland:

The park is beautiful! Shanghaî Disneyland is very neat and as detailed as Disneyland Paris can be, it is clean and 90% of the attractions were open with reasonable wait of 40minutes maximum. Visitors were respectful and behaved quite well, I have no complaints about Chinese tourists they were perfect. Many Western expatriates were also present. I had very good impressions. 

I know you all know this but, to make a long story short: there is no Haunted Mansion or It's a Small World and Star Tours. Big Thunder Mountain became the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain was replaced by TRON Lightcyle Power Run and Pirates of the Caribbean became a land in its own right with a brand new version of the ride . Strangely, it didn't not bothered me too much. Specifically, we are in a new park, more fresh because all offering of new attractions benefit of amazing technology but also remains what is known as all the codes of a Disney park are there. It's like everything rediscovering everything and it's good as Disneyland Paris, we love it, but we know it so much ...

The entrance to Disneyland Paris is so majestic with the hotel that we forgot that it was unique and not found elsewhere. So, it was strange to see the entrance of Shanghai Disneyland, less ambitious. It is still beautiful and is inspired by the original park in California with a small station and tower ( without railroad ) and the usual head of Mickey in flowers .

Disneyland Paris Main Street USA is the most visually rich and suddenly it was strange to see here a totally different version of the entrance street. Mickey Avenue performs the same function but is two-third smaller and a bit less classy, but mix with taste a good dozen of architectural styles (classical, art nouveau, Victorian, Hollywood / art deco, toon, Parisian, American, Georgian ...) to introduce the Chinese guests, less steeped in Western culture, to the park. It's eclectic, colorful and joyful.

Between Mickey Avenue and Enchanted Story Book castle, our DLP Central Plaza has given way to a much larger "Gardens of Imagination" quite welcome mixing small gardens, bridges and ponds and many flowers on various themes. Of course the elements of the Chinese zodiac reviewed with Disney characters ( the monkey Abu from Aladdin, the dragon is Muchu from Mulan, etc ...). It's subtle and really cute.The adaptation of the park to Chinese public  is through these tips: a beautiful decorated Chinese restaurant in Suzhou style - Tea House of Wandering Moon - has been included, east of the castle, the parade has a special focus on the Mulan float as we have at DLP on the Sleeping Beauty float, rice, noodles and chopsticks are present in menus, some shows (Tarzan, Frozen) or even dark rides (Snow White, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto ...) are in mandarin but the rest is also in English. The castle is not at all Chinese, not even one detail, and I am delighted!

Alexis has shot also some excellent panoramics. Make sure to click on it to see it in big size!  

The castle... is beautiful, really great. It stands majestically in the middle of the park as an extremely impressive lighthouse. It can be seen from everywhere! It mixes many styles ( Roman, Gothic, Baroque, Classical ) with the elegance of our Sleeping Beauty Castle. Again, I know you are aware of it but it is important to remember a set of points: it is the highest castle of all Disney castles, this is the first castle to represent all Disney princesses so its name "Enchanted Storybook Castle » ( with however an attraction inside telling the story of Snow White) and it is the most interactive, offerings shops, restaurants (at 500cny the menu), two attractions and is so detailed!

Fantasyland, always behind the castle and extending north of the park, is just wonderful. It is as detailed as our Fantasyland at DLP, full of small shops and restaurants with ornate roofs. Classics rides such as Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Snow White, the tea cups and the carousel are present in new versions with some newcomers. The Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is nice because it's a ride on the water which recounts the stories of Disney animated classics, but details of the characters are a bit coarse. Alice in Wonderland maze is a new version, really good, with a mix of the animated classic with the recent Tim Burton movie and, as it is at the foot of the castle, the whole maze at night with the lighted lanterns is a wow.
However, we lose It's a Small World, and I find it a bit of a shame because it's such a mythical attraction for me. And there is no dragon too under the castle or a Pinocchio ride.

The facade of Pinnochio Village Kitchen...

...and the one of Peter Pan's Flight, on the right.

The entrance and facade of the Frozen show theatre.

The Tangled Tree Tavern, inspired by the famous tavern of the animated movie.

The final scene of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Note that the Audio-Animatronic which is not include in this SDL version.

In the part two of Alexis great pictorial report, coming in D&M next article we'll have a look at Treasure Cove, Adventure Isle and Tomorrowland for which he has fantastic pictures!

Pictures: copyright Alexis Lefranc

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Shanghaî Disneyland Week-end Update : Is a Toy Story Land coming to Shanghaî Disneyland ?

In this week-end D&M Shanghaî Disneyland update we'll have a closer look at a part of the park where it seems that SDL Imagineers may envision to build a Toy Story Land in a near future. Theme Park University is the one who first spotted some buildings which indeed look like some Toy Story Land structures and he posted in his article that you can read HERE the picture below.

If we compare with these pictures of the Toy Soldiers Parachute Drop ride at HKDL and DLP WDS there is no doubt that the one on picture above looks indeed the same, though with a few differences, and with a giant bucket for Toy Soldiers nearby.

Now, i thought that it would be interesting to have a look back to the previous SDL aerial drone videos posted since the last six months to have a look at this from above. And this TSL structure can be clearly seen each time as you'll see on the pictures below ( indicated with an orange arrow ). As you'll see there is a big piece of land that could very well be used for a Toy Story land.

Now, all the question is: are they going to build a Toy Story land, or not? If you're a faithful D&M reader you may remember this SDL map on which was clearly indicated a Toy Story land. The three attractions are supposed to be Rex's Racers, Slinky Dog Spin and Woody's Round-Up with Celebration Cafe and Toy Box Cafe as restaurants. So ,apparently no Parachute Drop ride is envisioned but we can see on the map a structure looking like the green building...

More recently, in another SDL official map the green structure clearly appear without any particular mention, although the one under it is "Celebration Cafe".

Does it mean that WDI Imagieners intend to add this mini-land anytime soon after the park opening? May be, may be not... Some think that HKDL exclusivity on the TSL land is still running but i'm not sure that HKDL has an exclusivity on that one. Although it certainly have one on Grizzly Gulch and Mytic Manor, these two HKDL lands were really brand new lands when TSL had already been built at DLP WDS before opening at HKDL, so it's difficult to have an exclusivity on something which already existed in another Disney theme park. But HKDL may had one for five years for Asia and in this case, as HKDL TSL opened on November 2011 it would end this November, which may explain why SDL Imagineers had to wait.

Above: the concept-art for DLP WDS Toy Story Playland

That said, i'd rather prefer they don't build a Toy Story land at SDL as i'm part of those who think that Toy Story land doesn't fit in a Disney "Magic Kingdom". It works at HKDL because they've hidden it behind Jungle Cruise and tons of giant bamboos but it's almost the exception which confirms the rule. There is another important point which is a question of visual intrusion. The pillars of Parachute Drop and the RC Racers track as they exist at DLP WDS or HKDL can be seen from afar and it'll be hard this time to hide them here at SDL, specially at a few meters from SDL Tomorrowland or Fantasyland.

Finally, and always about Parachute Drop, there is also another point more politic this time which is to have an attraction with soldiers dressed as American G.I's in a park on China main land. Sure, it is supposed to be toy soldiers, but toy soldiers looking like G.I's anyway. But i still can't believe they will build Parachute Drop at SDL, mainly for the question of visual intrusion,  and may be the green structure will be used only as a Toy Story land restaurant or simply restrooms... Future will tell what is the truth in all this and normally we shouldn't have too long to wait to know about it.

Pictures: copyright Disney, Theme Park University, DR