By Hunter Zhu
Graphic and Media design
On June 16, 2016, Shanghai Disneyland opened to the public as mainland China’s first Disney theme park. It is currently the third Disney park in Asia and the sixth in the world. Shanghai Disneyland was initially designed to appeal to domestic tourists. This Disneyland park features elements of Chinese design which have been woven into the aesthetic fabric of its facilities in both conspicuous and subtle ways.
On account of the successfully ending up of the Weichuan project, I got a half-day off, ‘I haven’t went to the Disneyland here ever, since I came to Shanghai, plus this is a great Friday with sunshine’ I said to myself. Once I stepped into Shanghai Disneyland, I noticed the characteristics elements of China around the square of the main entrance. There is a Fountain shown as a Mickey mouse standing on the steamboat in front of the entrance of the park, it was inspired by the historic 1920s cartoon Steamboat Willie which was an early depiction of the Mickey Mouse character. The fountain already includes Chinese imagery while incorporating a modern version of Mickey and showcasing a new Asian boat design that slightly differs from what is seen in the original cartoon.
And the boat of this Fountain also takes into account that ship is a symbolic token of success in Chinese culture.
A large Yulan magnolia motif is also found at the entrance paying tribute to the official flower of Shanghai. In addition, the street lamp designs, which decorate the square’s flower beds, resemble Yulan magnolia trees and seem quite realistic when viewed from afar.
While other Disney castles depict the homes of specific princesses, the Fantastic Fairytale Castle in Shanghai is the largest Disney castle in the world and includes every time-honored Disney princess
. Shanghai Disneyland’s Fantastic Fairytale Castle incorporates many design elements that are uniquely Chinese. Its tallest tower, a decorative gold spire, includes Chinese features and casts a clear theme around the theme park. A golden peony rests at its very top as a well-loved flower in China. Underneath, rods appear to launch magical stars upward to illuminate the sky. One of the other golden spires displays a Yulan magnolia, symbolizing both a royal crown and the city of Shanghai.
Behind the statue of Snow White around the Fantastic Fairytale Castle, a wall has been carved by a Chinese master incorporating a large single piece of jade. It depicts the castle in astounding detail and showcases the craftsmanship of Chinese jade carving to the world.
There are twelve colorful mosaics that make up the Garden of Twelve Friends. These colorful murals represent twelve famous Disney characters as well as the twelve animals of the Chinese Zodiac. This lush, peaceful garden of lovely cherry trees is another example of how Shanghai Disneyland combines Disney iconography with traditional Chinese imagery.
For example, the mouse character Remy from the Disney Pixar movie Ratatouille represents the “rat” in the Chinese Zodiac, while the “cow” is represented by Babe the Blue Ox from the Oscar-nominated short film Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox.
Tigger from Winnie the Pooh represents “tiger” (my personal zodiac animal) while Thumper from the movie Bambi represents “rabbit.” Milan’s sidekick Mushu represents “dragon” while Pluto, the famous companion of Mickey Mouse, represents “dog.” Meanwhile, the piggybank Hamm from Pixar’s Toy Story franchise represents “pig” in the Chinese Zodiac.
The major attractions of the Shanghai Disneyland are not the only parts of the park that fuse Western details with Chinese stylistic elements. All the shops along Mickey Street feature attractive Chinese signs. The bank that appears to be run by Donald Duck’s uncle, Scrooge McDuck, incorporates an RMB logo that suggests the establishment is Chinese funded.
People can also watch Donald Duck and Chip ’n’ Dale perform Tai Chi at Shanghai Disneyland. Other presentations also include Mulan riding a horse in the float parade, and Chinese acrobats performing the physically dynamic love story Tarzan: The Call of the Jungle using ribbons.
Much of the construction of Shanghai Disneyland also utilized locally sourced recycled building materials.
As for the food, 70% of the meals served in the park come from Chinese cuisine. On the premises sits the Chinese restaurant Man Yue Xuan, which was built in the Chinese architectural style. Its facade is decorated with traditional windows along with an ancient proverb that says, “Man should read plenty and travel far.”
Sometimes, I was thinking ‘why Disney?’, I’ve been to the Disneyland in Los angles which is the earliest one, comparing with the newest resort in Shanghai, even it has 63 years history, it still keep renewing the facility with up to date animation character at the same time keeping the classic one. In my stand of view, known how to fit in the local and develops it to its attractive point is one of the key of success for Disney. There is word called ‘Zhu xuan lu’ in Chinese which means thematic. It could be a policy or even one word, phrase said by the chairman can be a thematic things be evoked to do in China, for example like there is a policy called ‘empty your dishes’ this year in China, in the next day, you can see signs with that content sticked in every single restaurant, even there are some signs can be found in the restaurants in Shanghai Disneyland shows ‘Donald said good boy eat them all’. ‘Follow the rules’ is getting used to when camera is watching, but in other hand of losing human right, China is becoming one of the safest county in the world. Disney follows the ‘Zhu xuan lu’, it applies a good place for Chinese families to go.
Another point I want to mentioned about is that the group of Disney are totally expert on marketing and selling, and we can even regard the resort as a huge ‘store’, because the ever single character, animation and even the Disneyland itself are the products they are selling. But they people knows how to build up happy atmosphere in Disneyland, Girls will go cray on those adorable plush toys can be suspended on their bag, and their boyfriend have no reason to reject purchasing that. And parents also never be stingy to buy a ice-cream with a theme of Princes Elsa for their children, I make my point is that people are willing to give away their money in a happy atmosphere. So do branding, why we can not make our clients be most willing to buy our design…