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Theme World: Shanghai at Disney World

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Shanghai at  Disney World
July 15, 2015


Theme park fans around the world are drooling over Disney's big reveal of just what Shanghai Disneyland will look like. But there are links you may not know between the newest resort (opening next Spring) and Walt Disney World.
And one of Shanghai's premiere attractions will make its way to Central Florida. More on that in a moment.

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For months there have been internet musings on why we have not seen photos of CEO Robert Iger at the under-construction resort.
 That changed today. Iger was all-smiles as he unveiled our best look yet at the resort that will shape his legacy.

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The mammoth model he unveiled is appropriate. Shanghai Disneyland is a mammoth risk. Despite his oft-repeated phrase the park will be "Authentically Disney; Distinctly Chinese" there is no guarantee mainland Chinese fans will embrace the place. There are many other theme parks open and under construction, including Hong Kong Disneyland.

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It's clear Shanghai will be the most different "Disneyland-Style" park. The entrance is not a train station. And there is no Main Street, USA. It's MickeyTown -- kind of a cross between Toontown meet & greets and the traditional shopping and dining

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Tomorrowland will dazzle. Especially at night. At its heart is an indoor-outdoor rollercoaster based on Tron.

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Tomorrowland also includes a  Buzz Lightyear ride that is based  largely on the original that opened in the Magic Kingdom back in 1998.


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Over in Fantasyland, The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be a virtual duplicate of  the family coaster at the heart of our New Fantasyland expansion.  I understand splitting the development costs with Shanghai helped sell management on bringing the ride here instead of more princess meet & greets.

Another tie to Walt Disney World lies on a land unique to Shanghai:

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That's Treasure Cove. No surprise: this is based more on the Jack Sparrow Pirates of the Caribbean movies than Walt's Disneyland original from the 60's.

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 The sets inside its main ride, Pirates of the Caribbean - Battle for the Sunken Treasure, are among the grandest Disney has ever built.  It will feature animatronics. But it will ALSO include a unique ride system that allows the boats to spin, go sideways -- even backwards. But many of its other special effects were tested out Disney's Hollywood Studios.

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 Specifically they were tested  in  "The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow" walk-through that closed last November after a nearly 2-year run.  I, personally, thought the attraction was a dreadful mess, but there is no denying some of the effects were dazzling. They will help  bring Johnny Depp... err...Jack Sparrow to life in Shanghai. That's fitting. Any awareness the Chinese have about Pirates is from those movies.
While Sparrow's Legend is now part of Hollywood Studios' past,  another of Shanghai's attractions is expected to be part of Epcot's future.

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 No. Not the Roaring Rapids ride that brings people on Kali River Rapids-style rafts  face to face with this beast:

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Instead, look to this larger view of Shanghai's Adventureland: Adventure Isle.

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 Beautiful & lush, the land will be something most Chinese guests will have never seen before.  But Epcot's tie-in is easy to overlook.

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That's the show building for "Soaring Over the Horizon" which a press release describes as "...an aerial tour of the globe never seen before. High above some of the world's most iconic landmarks, Soaring over the Horizon will take travelers on a voyage of discovery that tours every continent. Guests will soar and explore spectacular scenic wonders, with special segments for guests of Shanghai Disneyland overlooking Shanghai and The Great Wall of China...."
Yes, it is an upgraded version of Epcot's Soarin' -- which has featured that park's longest lines since it opened in 2005.  That's one reason a third theater is now under construction behind The Land pavillion.

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For those of you who've always wondered why we are flying over California in Florida, it's because the ride film debuted at Disney's California Adventure in 2001. Expect that to change. I understand that while filming the new version for Shanghai -- new footage was also shot just for Epcot. While Disney's not talking about it yet, I understand a new version could debut at Soarin as soon as late next year, when the third theater is ready.  I'll keep you posted.

Meanwhile, there is a ton more to see of Shanghai Disneyland's artwork and models.  Here's an official video from Disney and a time lapse video:

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You can also find more videos and concept art, plus a complete description of each land, attraction, shop and restaurant at the links embedded in this sentence. See you soon!!