Plans for a number of new attractions, entertainment and hotels were let loose by Disney this past August at D23 Expo 2015, held at the Anaheim Convention Center. The upcoming opening of Shanghai Disney Resort captured much of the “oohs” and “ahhs” of the day. Shanghai Disneyland sits as the centerpiece, with six themed lands, including the largest and most interactive Enchanted Storybook Castle to date, two new immersive experiences, Star Wars Launch Bay and Marvel Universe, and true to locale cultural experiences. The resort will offer groups classic Disney storytelling and characters but with authentic cultural touches and themes that are meaningful to the people of China.
“We are building something truly special here in Shanghai,” says Disney chairman and CEO, Bog Iger, “that not only showcases the best of Disney’s storytelling, but also celebrates and incorporates China’s incredibly rich heritage—to create a truly magical place that is both authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.”
Aside from being Disney’s first theme park to open in a decade and the first to open in Mainland China, Shanghai Disneyland is set to unveil a number of “firsts.” Highlights include the mysterious Adventure Isle with its ancient legends and reptilian creatures, an adventure below the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, and Garden of the Twelve Friends, where animals of the Chinese zodiac come to life Disney-style. The Art Nouveau-inspired 420-room Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and imaginative 800-room Toy Story Hotel will anchor the resort. Groups can also shop and dine in the adjacent Disneytown, which will also offer the first-ever Mandarin production of the Broadway hit musical, “The Lion King.”
Star Wars remains a hot topic for Disney, with new enhancements and themed lands set for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Anaheim’s Disneyland park, transporting groups to a never-before-seen planet with interactive experiences such as secret missions aboard the Millennium Falcon and gearing up to face a new villain at the Jedi Training Academy.
Beginning this October, groups hitting the skies on Japan’s largest airline ANA will also be misted by Star Wars mania. ANA launched the five-year Star Wars Project in April with The Walt Disney Company, branding the exterior of its ANA Jets in Star Wars themes and making it the only airline in the world to offer all six of the currently released Star Wars films as part of their in-flight entertainment on international hauls. The ANA Star Wars planes will fly international and domestic routes, offering groups a unique setting that features Star Wars decorations, headrest covers and dining items.