Disney has unveiled new details about its forthcoming Shanghai Disneyland theme park, the company's first resort in mainland China. The 1.5-square-mile park, which is set to open its doors in spring 2016, will feature the "tallest, largest, and most interactive castle at any Disney theme park," as well as playing host to the global premiere of Disney's The Lion King musical in Mandarin. At an event yesterday in Shanghai, Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger promised that the resort would be both "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese," with elements that celebrate the country's "incredibly rich heritage." According to a report from The New York Times, this act of cultural deference wasn't just diplomatic — it was required by China as a condition of the park opening.
A lightcycle roller coaster with replica bikes
The $5.5 billion theme park will be divided into six main sections. These include the science fiction-themed Tomorrowland, home to the Tron Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster (where riders will be able to board a train of replica Lightcycles) and the Toy Story-themed Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue. Nearby will be the Star Wars Launch Bay and Marvel Universe experiences. These won't be new attractions, reports The Wall Street Journal, but will instead be outfitted with props and memorabilia from the films, with costumed characters on hand to meet fans.
Concept art for Shanghai Disneyland's Treasure Cove. (DisneyParks)
Other themed areas include Treasure Cove (the first pirate-themed section at a Disney park, with a "thrilling" Pirates of the Caribbean boat ride), Adventure Isle (which will include the "Soaring Over the Horizon" experience, replicating the feeling of flying around the world), and Fantasyland (a Disneyland staple featuring characters from Peter Pan and Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs). Disney will be hoping that the new park will help push the corporation's brands and characters into the lucrative Chinese market, with Iger reportedly considering Shanghai Disneyland to be as momentous for the company as the creation of the flagship Walt Disney World resort in Florida in 1971.