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Disney Is Opening a New "Magic Kingdom" in Shanghai, China, And from All Reports it's a Stunning Advance in Theme Park Design

   

Disney Parks

 China itself is such a fascinating touristic destination that it really doesn't need another attraction. And yet that's exactly what it got this month, in the opening of the Shanghai Disneyland.  Larger by far than any previous Disneyland in the U.S., Paris or elsewhere, this one incorporates such new advances in electronic wizardry, spread over awesomely-large grounds, that it has already attracted two million Chinese visitors in its several opening days, and will henceforth be one of the key sightseeing attractions in Shanghai.

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     Shanghai Disneyland is the sixth "Magic Kingdom" theme park constructed by the Disney organization, and its key structure is a fairy castle looking, to my eye, at least three times larger than the one in Orlando, Florida. Whereas the original fairy castle (in earlier Disney theme parks) might have contained only a single restaurant and no major facilities within its interior, the Shanghai version has several exhibits, rides, and displays for visitors to the castle.  Every other well-known feature of the "Magic Kingdom" has also been expanded and re-designed. A "Pirates of the Caribbean" has electronic images that envelop the visitor in a realistic piratical takeover.  The various roller coasters aren't content to subject their riders to vertigo-inducing sensations, but also confronts them with visual enhancements. "Imagineers" of the Disney organization have apparently used almost unlimited funds to expand, alter and improve nearly every well-known feature of the Disney world.

     Apart from bilingual signs in both English and Chinese, Shanghai Disneyland has many other familiar features of its Orlando counterpart—except one.  There is no small-town America street of the kind so nostalgic and comforting as in Orlando and Anaheim, and an exhibit called Gardens of Imagination has been substituted for them.  Nevertheless, it is apparently surprising to note how readily and favorably a Chinese audience reacts to exhibits and rides that were once created for a solely-American audience.

     But one famous exhibit has been changed. The popular Soarin' in the Disney parks of both Orlando and Anaheim, which carry American visitors on a high-altitude flight above the state of California, has been given larger scope in Shanghai. In the latter's Soarin', people are flown all over the planet, from one continent to another! (This new version is slated to begin showing in the American parks in mid-June.)

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     For further details about Shanghai Disneyland, your best source is a website called ThemeParkInsider.com, which reviews developments in all the theme parks of Disney, Universal and others. Click on Disney reports that ran in April and May, and you'll encounter the breathless reporting of a theme park expert who is unable to contain his excitement over this creation of a major new touristic attraction.

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