It's a small world after all...
There were a lot of comments about the Shanghai Disney Resort recently...
Most of it was from people commenting that Disney isn't being honest or that they are outright lying about the reason behind the lack of artwork for the new park. Some of those comments are valid, but they're also not. Let me explain from what I know or have heard Bothans explain to me.
One point is that many have said it's not true about the artwork since the park is basically a carbon copy of Disneyland. How could companies copy something that is already out there? Fair enough. But Hong Kong Disneyland isn't an exact copy, but a detailed, pale image. The castle is an exact copy of Disneyland's famous icon, but the park is a very lushly detailed collection of attractions found throughout many other Disney theme parks, but they do have their own look. And that look has been copied at several local amusement parks. Disney Suits and WDI Suits noticed this and it was planned from at least a year ago to not inially release a great deal of artwork. It doesn't mean we won't get more, but it won't all be out there at once like before.
That doesn't address the two biggest problems that HKDL had. One is the most obvious to Disney Fans: size. The park was under built. It wasn't built looking cheaply though. The park is quite detailed and filled with little bits of embellishing that are common to most Disney parks. The problem was that attractions that people expected and were initially announced as being part of the park didn't show up. They were cut and expected to be included in a future expansion phase. This was the shortsightedness of the last decade of Eisner and his underlings.
The other part was the cultural aspect which Eisner and even some Imagineers didn't take into account. Not that they didn't expect some changes based on cultural need. Truthfully, one of the reasons certain attractions weren't built (Snow White, ect.) was that it was felt that the Chinese people, unlike the Japanese people, had not grown up on a steady diet of Disney characters and films. Of course the conception of Main Street didn't figure into this park as it has in Shanghai. But that plan has changed as you've noticed that there is no normal interest in a traditional entrance like fans have come to expect. Planning is also going ahead with a couple attractions that actually play more on what are reflected in Chinese culture. This is something that will be unique to this area and something that the company hopes will address guest concerns about appealing to the local market.
Another comment/complaint is that they are really hiding the fact that large parts of the park remain unplanned or not even designed yet. This is true, but that's because it is five to six years out. It is understandable that parts of the park wouldn't be done yet, but simply in the idea stage. This site is called "Blue Sky" Disney, after all. If this were the state of plans in another two or three years then it would be a valid concern since they would already be deeply involved in construction. Lastly, some have mentioned that there are arguments and divisions within WDI about where or how to continue.
I have to tell you that the Bothans I talked to say that this is a common occurrence that has happened for as long as they've been working for the division. All the way back to Paris. And without the guiding hand of Walt himself, there were arguments about where and how to expand every park since his passing. Before EPCOT was built there were many divisions inside Glendale as to how to continue the project that he had planned. There were arguments as to what direction to take, how close to his vision they should stick and what type of attractions would fit the differing visions they had of the project. Debates and arguments happen all the time and so far I've heard nothing that makes me believe this isn't business as usual. Now, if there are any of you out there in the know that have evidence to refute this then, by all means, please contact me. By e-mail if you'd like with your side of the story. Don't just vent anonymous comments that come off as the ranting opinions of angry fans. Feel free to enlighten me in private.
Now, this may make some people feel that nothing is planned or done. This is also not so. There are several classic attractions that will be gratefully welcomed when announced later this year or early next depending on how the timeline is addressed. But there are also several new attractions as well. Like that mountain/water rafting attraction based on the mechanics of the Grizzly River Run, but set to an entirely new theme... ooops. Sorry, you didn't hear that. I seem to have lost track of my delete button. Oh well, I don't really have to worry because most everyone will have stopped reading before they got here.
Either way, the plans for Shanghai are evolving and expanding and that is a great thing...