“Authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese.” That’s how Bob Iger, former CEO of Disney, describes the newest Disneyland resort in Shanghai, China. While the original Disneyland park is known for classic rides and excessive crowds, Shanghai Disneyland focuses on nature, art, and live performances to capture the essence of Chinese culture.
One of the park’s especially unique blends of Disney and Chinese culture is the Garden of the Twelve Friends. This garden features mosaics of Disney characters associated with each animal in the Chinese zodiac. Year of the Pig, for example, is Hamm from Toy Story. Another central aspect of the park’s Chinese influence was the castle design (pictured above). Taller than all the other Disney castles, the 196-foot Enchanted Storybook Castle in Shanghai holds a golden peony atop its tallest tower, standing as a traditional symbol of wealth and honor.
Shanghai Disneyland is truly devoted to its Chinese audience while still incorporating the stories that are known and loved across the world. I haven’t visited yet, but I hope someday to experience for myself the beautifully manifested influence of Chinese culture on Shanghai Disneyland.