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  • How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

    There's no denying the fact that the Magic Kingdom style Disneyland park as we know it was designed to cater to Walt's 1950's American audience. While it has certainly stood the test of time, and still reflects to a certain extent the feelings of its modern audience, does it really have that same appeal to a Chinese audience. Even though I think, if itwere to be done well, the Disneyland that we love would still appeal to the Chinese. But that being said, I think it would be a wise decision for Disney to look for influence from the Chinese culture when building this park.

    Do you agree, and if so, how do you believe it should be done?
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    Long Live the Disney Renaissance

  • #2
    Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

    EXCELLENT CHINESE FOOD!

    Maybe some local wine and beer.

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    • #3
      Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

      Originally posted by CaliforniaAdventurer View Post
      EXCELLENT CHINESE FOOD!

      Maybe some local wine and beer.
      They should have these things at DCA too.
      The Mickey audience is not made up of people; it has no racial, national, political, religious or social differences or affiliations; the Mickey audience is made up of parts of people, of that deathless, precious, ageless, absolutely primitive remnant of something in every world-wracked human being which makes us play with children’s toys and laugh without self-consciousness at silly things, and sing in bathtubs, and dream and believe that our babies are uniquely beautiful. You know…the Mickey in us.
      -Walt Disney

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      • #4
        Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

        I don't think they need to incorporate Chinese culture. It'd be like building a California themed park in California.

        whoops, that happened.


        Look at Tokyo. They don't have or need a "tokyo" land. What you do is build an escape for the Chinese people. That is why they go there. Otherwise they could just go to Beijing to soak up their history or see the Great Wall, or go to Xian for the terracotta soldiers.


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        • #5
          Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

          Incorporating the culture doesn't mean just rides and lands about the area. Successfully incorporating the culture is about the little things. The flavored popcorns, the abundance of curry and chinese restaurants and the constant celebrations in Tokyo, the "more adult" haunted events and the local Chinese cuisine in Hong Kong...these are the "incorperations" of the culture.

          Yes you are abosultely right that building a Chinese themed land in Shanghai would be like building a park about California in California, but the food and events will definately cater to the local culture. BUt you can't always just cater to their tastes.

          Hopefully they are a bit more forceful in changing the ride and souvenir habits of the Shanghai population than they were in Hong Kong (like what they did in Tokyo). But food-wise...I bet there will be very local-based cuisine as the main type of food.
          Much as Americans are teased for our stereotype of needing burgers available everywhere at every meal...I found the people of Shanghai to like thier local Chinese food available at each meal. While we in America think "OK...Mexican...Chinese...Thai...Italian or local..." when it comes to dinner time...the locals in Shanghai seem to only think "local".

          It probably stems from their upbringing and the funds or lack there of to try different foods...but I bet this new park will cater to the local food tastes far more than any of their previous international parks.

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          • #6
            Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

            It'll be feng shui'd and there will octopus and such at the ODV.

            But I agree you shouldn't try to sell ice to Eskimos, as they say.

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            • #7
              Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

              I agree that Disney needs to tread carefully if they are going to try to repackage the local culture, as the disneyfied version of Chinese history may not be welcome (remember the scoffing reaction here to the idea of Disney's version of American history next to the Bull Run battlefield).

              That said, I think there can/should be some nods not only to China (Indiana Jones Adventure in an ancient Chinese temple/tomb?), but centered on the mythologies that the Chinese are familiar with. I don't know what those are, but I'm sure WDI will do their research.

              Sometimes a great attraction can fail if the locals don't get it, the best example being DisneySea's "Sinbad's Seven Voyages." By most accounts an excellent attraction, it has never resonated with the Japanese, possibly because the stories of Arabia and 1001 Nights are not that big in Japanese children's upbringing. These stories are, however, ingrained in the European notion of faraway adventure and romance, so had that ride been placed in DLP's Adventureland, it is likely it would have been a major hit.

              What do the mainland Chinese know/like about other places/cultures: European fairy tales? Western frontier mythology? Arabian legends? The wildernesses of Africa, the Amazon or the Arctic? 1920s New York City?

              At the same time, Disney wants to introduce their numerous intellectual properties to the Chinese consumer. Which of these are the Chinese familiar (Pooh? Spiderman? Toy Story?) and which are they likely to embrace?

              It will be fascinating when the details of this park are revealed (which, unfortunately, could be very far away (6-24 months)).
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              • #8
                Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                There is something that is very Chinese and that is the story of Mulan. Whether the Chinese like what Disney did to it is something I don't know, but would be interesting to see if they would want to see an attraction focusing on this character.


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                • #9
                  Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                  Essentially, my thinking was that they should approach this park through keying into the fantasies that the Chinese have that may differ from Americans. I think that the spirit of Adventure and the wonder of Tomorrow are concepts that are universal and will resonate with a Chinese audience. It's more the Frontier and Fantasy that I'm concerned about. Frontier Land works for Disneyland because it represents that romanticized view of our own past that we have. I don't think that the Chinese have this particular nostalgia for the Wild West, and that it could possibly be benefited for focusing on the romanticized view of Chinese history, not the way California Adventure was initially presented, but instead trying to take Shanghai's visitors into somewhere that they're dreamed about, but can't really go. If Frontier Land was included, I'm sure that it would certainly be enjoyed for it's wonderful setting, but I'm not sure that it would have that emotional connection that is important for the land.
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                  • #10
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                    • #11
                      Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                      ^^ I agree.

                      Also, I think the need for something "Chinese" is being overstated. HKDL isn't doing poorly because of lack of something Chinese - it is doing poorly because of the lack of quantity and uniqueness of its attractions. Recent examples of American popular culture like new Disney animated films, Pixar, Marvel etc are(or will be) as well known - and generally liked - in China as in most places in the globe.
                      Down with the Hat

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                      • #12
                        Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                        The Chinese are humans too, ya know.
                        Some things are just universal. You could plop Orlando's Magic Kingdom in Shanghai and it would be a major success. I have not yet been to China, but soon will travel there. I recently lived with a foreign exchange student from Nanjing, China (somewhat near Shanghai) for one school semester. We took her to WDW for one week and she absolutely loved it. Her family does not want to go to HKDL, because they have heard from friends that it is too small and boring. Also, they do not want to travel to Tokyo. She has told me that this is the situation of most people in China.

                        However, they probably will need to cater to the cuisine of China. When my foreign exchange student was here, she wasn't very fond of any food except McDonald's chicken nuggets... As well as the food, they will probably have to play off of some Chinese morals and stories.
                        Many Chinese are very interested and fond of Western culture. Others... aren't...

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                        • #13
                          Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                          People who love Disney usually love America and Americana.

                          Don't ruin a good thing by trying to be hip, modern, edgy - include the old characters, introduce them to new auds.

                          Don't sell snowcones to snowmen, sell them Mickey ears.

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                          • #14
                            Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                            I think Hong Kong did a good job in incorporating Chinese food and culture into their Disneyland, I'm sure Shanghai will do the same. Even prior to HKDL being built, Disney when introducing the Disney characters to the Chinese. Many Chinese, were, and are still not familiar with many of the Disney characters. What we take for granted in this country of generations of Disney characters in our lives, is something that is just really beginning in China on a wide basis. As the Chinese become more familiar, I think the Disney parks will become more popular.
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                            • #15
                              Re: How Should Shanghai Disneyland Incorporate Chinese Culture?

                              IMO Tailoring to local culture should be about making sure things like the food and merchandise are appropriate for the local audience that's why there are things like goyza buns and curry popcorn in Tokyo and restaurants serving wine in Paris.

                              As far as the theming this should be an escape for the locals not a recreation of what they already have so I would go themes which locals find interesting and exotic.

                              Americana is probably a safe bet so I'd leave Main Street but maybe change its time period - how about a 20's main st like the one first proposed for DLP, or American waterfront in TDS. How about a 1950's main st with tail fin cars, duke boxes and rara skirts, or go for a separate ‘Americanland’ and go for another theme like the Mediterranean Harbour in TDS – how about a southern French village, turn of the century London or an Arabian bazaar.

                              Adventureland and Tomorrowland are both easily changed to suit the local tastes for exotic (as can be seen in DLP with its north African adventureland and Jules Verne discoveryland). For adventureland you could have South Seas, Caribbean, South American, Indian African or any number of other themes – just go for what local people think of as exotic. For Tomorrowland you’re really left with two choices – go for a ‘current’ future which judging from past efforts I would think was unlikely or a fantasy future from the past. IF the latter then again the themes are endless so long as they appeal to the local population from steam punk Victorian, 30’s sci-fi, jet age 50’s or a googie 60’s or a more cartoony interpretation – again just pick what locals think is exciting.

                              Fantansyland IMO would only really work in European fairy tale setting unless the whole theme of the land is changes but this adds some room to change. I think a MK makeover fantasyland is likely with an enchanted forest but even this allows for other styles of ‘national’ architecture to be used like DLP or even expanding it to cover new themes like a Mermaid Lagoon miniland.

                              Frontierland is the one thing which might not be able to work in China as I have no idea how much the Chinese know about the ‘wild west’. Frontierland grew from TV westerns like Zorro and Wagon Train so I bet it’s almost a cert that it wouldn’t be high on the list of themed areas if you were designing Disneyland from scratch today (please don’t shoot me for this – it doesn’t mean I don’t like it but just I can’t see it being built today especially outside the US). If it wasn’t built the choice for a replacement is endless – what about Marvel superhero land, Hollywoodland, mythicalland (could be an Asian mythology land of exotic dragons and spirits or a more western ancient Rome / Greece type thing), Americanland (based on the US in general or taking one of the main street themes above), Arabianland (Arabian coast / DLP adventureland) or Indialand (Jungle Book, bollywood etc).

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