Sunday, July 17, 2016

Shanghai Disney Resort holds epic opening

After over five years of construction marred by delays, amid rainy weather, glorious pageantry and memes of Mickey “Mao-se”, China officially bids “ni hao” to their very own – ginormous – piece of the Walt Disney experience as Shanghai Disney Resort opened yesterday June 16 to a sold out crowd of Chinese vacationers and overseas travelers.

While uncooperative skies forced the cancellation of a gala event that would have been held outdoors on Wednesday night, the official dedication and main opening ceremonies went off flawlessly on a showery Thursday morning, according to the New York Times. With national level Chinese officials in attendance, Disney chairman and CEO Robert Iger kicked off the festivities by announcing in Mandarin, “Our dreams come true.”

Shanghai Disney Resort is the first such for Disney in the Chinese mainland, and is being trumpeted as a crowning achievement is US-China international relations. The total resort area covers 3.9 square kilometers centered on an artificial lagoon called Wishing Star Lake, and consists of two theme hotels – the Shanghai Disneyland Resort Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel – along with the Disneytown commercial and entertainment complex, and its main attraction of Shanghai Disneyland.

Disney officials have shared with CNN how Shanghai is currently the largest international park of the Disney brand and how it widely incorporates the very latest in technological innovations since the last major Disney Park opening in 2005 at Hong Kong. Furthermore, a great deal of effort was made to keep true to the project’s promise that the resort’s overall theme will be equally “authentic Disney” and “authentic Chinese”. And execs of the company have yet to fail to point out how Shanghai Disney’s attractions are, well, big.

For starters, the central structure of the main Disneyland Park, the Enchanted Storybook Castle in the Fantasyland theme area, is undoubtedly the tallest Disney park castle ever built and the largest too; so huge in fact, that it boasts an underground boat ride. The variety of park attractions is remarkably different from the other resorts, either kept as is like Fantasyland, revamped (the original Main Street USA being repurposed as Mickey Mouse Avenue) or dropped altogether in place of more contemporarily popular Disney franchises. To wit, the all-new Wonderland Maze is spun off from the recent Tim Burton “Alice in Wonderland” films, a roller coaster styled after “TRON Legacy”, and the Treasure Cove area’s “Battle for the Sunken Treasure” ride themed after “Pirates of the Caribbean”Outside Disneyland proper, Disneytown is also ready to open big, with its Art Deco-styled Walt Disney Grand Theater starting things off with the official premier of the Mandarin-language Broadway version of "The Lion King" .

Reactions of visitors thus far have been overwhelmingly positive to Bob Iger’s satisfaction, with “American food” flying off the stalls and everybody, even manly men, wearing Mickey Mouse ears. The resort’s opening appears to have revealed just how much popular the Disney name is in China, and Iger found himself constantly asked to post for selfies with park-goers. Shanghai Disney Resort is open all days of the year, with single-day adult tickets to Disneyland priced at $56 for non-peak weekdays and $75 on weekends and holidays. Further information can be found at their official website (English language).

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