365 Writing

Disneyland Shanghai – A Missed Opportunity

Yesterday I went to the first Disneyland I’ve ever been to outside of the US. It was… well interesting. I found that a couple of the rides were fun and exciting new takes on classic rides. For instance the Shanghai Pirates ride, while missing most of the water fall drops, was still an exciting visual and sensory expirence. Likewise the Tron Light Bikes was a well designed coster in the vein of Space Mountain. Though the latter didn’t make much sense compared to Space Mountain.

I found a great breakdown of the design and philosophy as well as review of the park that I totally agree with. It’s long and in depth and covers most of my thoughts but I feel like I should add a light overview here as well.

Most other reviews of the park praise how it takes out the Americana elements of the classic Disneyland, which for international locations I agree is something you should do. However, it didn’t replace it with much at all. Instead the park was left feeling sterile and lacking of any real sense of place. In the end I walked away feeling less like I had spent time at Disneyland, and more like I had gone to a generic knock off.

This is too bad, because I believe that China would have a lot to offer cultural wise in a Disney Park. Instead of making the “lands” so generic and unconnected to the real world, why not embrace themes that have flavor and style instead of what was left… a blank and empty canvas. There was little style that was memorable and none of the rides or attractions impacted you in the same way the classics did, with the notable exceptions of Pirates and perhaps Tron.

There are a fair number of shows at this Disneyland compared to others, as they did some research and found Chinese customers like this kind of attraction more. Which if true is great, though being all in Chinese, unlike rides, it makes it less accessible to non-Chinese visitors to the park. I found overall there was even a lack of rides compared to the other parks. While the original park has a fair number of rides, most of which feel iconic, this park may have about 6 or so, most of which don’t feel memorable at all.

In the end I was disappointed with my time there. I feel like it was a missed opportunity by Disney to make a new and exciting park, but instead felt like a generic blank slate… Hopefully Shanghai Disney will grow into its own and capitalize on the potential it has to break away from the classic park mold.