He's got high hopes...
With only a couple days to go before the Mini-Con, I thought it was time to address a few things...
I know that several sites have reported on several rumors about Shanghai Disneyland. Blue Sky has been relatively quite on the subject lately. Part of that is having to deal with the real world and the limits of time I have. The other part is that I promised my Bothans not to speak about certain thing until the fall. I've also only spoke to them a few times in the past several months. Tom Staggs is a very good leader, that apparently understands the workings of Imagineering better than Jay Rasulo ever could. And he's also good at stopping leaks. But from what I've heard, I'm slowly becoming a fan of the direction he is headed. Staggs is a business man first, but he's someone that seems to get what most bean counters don't. And having him in charge of the parks could offer great opportunities ahead. Time will tell, but I think the Walt Disney Company is a world away from where it was a decade ago. And I clearly think he is the obvious candidate to replace Bob Iger when he decides to step down. Which I hope he realizes in his tenure before Eisner did.
That said, lets move on to Asia:
First off, the rumors that you've heard about a TRON attraction are true. It will take the place of Space Mountain in this sixth Magic Kingdom styled park. It is the giant white dome you see in that overview artwork piece the company released when they officially announced the resort a while back. It will be enclosed in darkness so that you won't see the exposed beams that shoot the lightcycle-type vehicles through the world of Tron (And yes, like the websites are saying, it is based on the Vekoma Motobike System designs).
As we were the first to break this, yes the water attraction that we mentioned is called the "Lost World River Rapids" and it is the mountain that you see in that artwork that was released (you did click on the link to "The Lost World" novel right?). I was able to tease what it was, but I wasn't able to reveal the name. Now that it's out, I can say that the stories are correct and there is more. Remember when Bob Iger mentioned that this park will be uniquely Chinese? Well, that's one of the reasons this attraction was approved. China is home to the largest collection of dinosaur finds in the world and the Mouse wants to play this up. The ride itself will be influenced by the GRR attraction that we have here in California, but it will be different. First off, it will have dinosaur audio-animatronics on it. Unless they make budget cuts, like happened on GRR, which have twice ended the inclusion of AA's, then you can expect a prehistoric experience. Also, the rockwork is very beautiful and extravagant. It is also expensive and over budget in design. Let's hope that the project isn't downscaled because the design is quite lovely and will become an instant classic. Please don't cut the beauty simply because of the cost overruns, Mr. Staggs.
Some people have noticed that Mayan temple over in the Adventureland area and have supposed that it is a Indiana Jones attraction. I can confirm that it is not. As of now, there are no plans to include the Man in the Hat on opening day. Things could change, but the designs of this attraction are not based on the Lucasfilm property. What it is, I can't say at this time, but wanted to tell you what it's not.
I know that sites are starting to report that the area will include a new "Pirates of the Caribbean" attraction with elements based on the designs of the attraction that was proposed for Hong Kong Disneyland. I can't confirm this, but there was/will be a POTC stunt show similar to the Indiana Jones one at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Whether this to be done in conjunction with or in place of the attraction, I'm not sure. As always, time will tell, and maybe we'll find out in not too much time.
There will be no Frontierland as of my last talks with the Bothans. Not that it hasn't been mentioned, but the plans for anything related to something that would go in such an area, would be placed in another land. While Japanese don't have any conception of what a "frontier" is, the Chinese experience with that term is known and considered far more negative. Hence the decision to not have a land named for it. In truth, Shanghai itself is the true Frontierland; wild, untamed and full of energy.
Just like HKDL has a variation of the Haunted Mansion, the Shanghai park will have variations on classic Disney attractions. In this case, the "Jungle Cruise" will be part of the park when it opens up in 2015/16, albeit with the same kind of variations that you see between the original Haunted Mansion and Mystic Manor. But it will be classic WDI from the designs I know of.
Over in Fantasyland, the "Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster" is a go. This appears to be a clone of the one being built in the Extreme Expansion of WDW's Fantasyland. Another attraction that will be found in this land that is not in China's other Disney park is "Peter Pan" and a variation of the classic "Winnie the Pooh" ride. Plans are evolving and discussions are ongoing as to which other attractions are to be included. Expect at least one, possibly two more to join these on opening day.
That slow flume ride beneath the castle is also true as well. But, while some sites have reported that it will go throughout the entire park, it will actually only travel around Fantasyland. But it will be a beautiful ride through that popular land. The experience you get will be one of an enveloping fairytale, but done with the Imagineer's golden touch.
Disney and it's Imagineers have had a difficult time adjusting to Chinese culture and their way of doing things. It is a learning experience and a frustrating one at times. The way that things are constructed and the guidelines that China uses are not what WDI expects and it has been a challenge dealing with the way things are done in the Middle Kingdom, and Shanghai in particular. Let's just say the tools they use, figuratively and literally are different than what Glendale is used to working with.
There will be plans and models shown at the D23 Expo, but I wouldn't expect everything or most of what has been revealed here to debut. Unless Staggs changes the initial plans then we can really expect an overview with some minor surprises. But we'll have to wait for that big, beautiful tomorrow to find out.
Because tomorrow is only a tomorrow away...