Grand Opening - How Was It?

Discussion in 'Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland' started by Mr. X, Jun 16, 2016.

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  1. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Parade

    The daytime parade is run twice each day, and it's okay. I'd put it about on par with what HKDL opened with. I'm glad I saw it, but I don't think I'd make it a point to see it again.


    Nighttime Spectacular

    Many people would call this "the fireworks", but it's really more than that. Not only is there projection on the enormous castle, there's also lasers, and a water component as well (you can't really see this part very well unless you're right in front of the castle). Because of all of the other elements, the fireworks part is a little light. So, it's not really a fireworks show with projections added, but more of a multimedia show, with fireworks being one of several media. Part of it may be due to cost, and part may be due to environmental considerations - I don't know. But it worked out really well. There was a Star Wars sequence, which kind of stood out to me, being in the middle of traditional Disney stuff. Most of the songs were sung in Mandarin, with the notable exception of "Let it Go" which was in the original English version. It's not clear to me why this was done - they clearly have a Mandarin version of the song, as it's used in the Frozen sing-along. Who knows.

    After the show finishes (it runs maybe 25 minutes), everyone starts moving about. Then, after a couple of minutes, there's some kind of post-show, including more music and projections, and everyone kind of freezes up again, making it difficult to maneuver through and around the hub. The interesting thing is, there's a mass exodus from the park at the end of the show, even though the park is open for another hour. This gives a great opportunity to ride many of the popular attractions which had long lines all day long. I know that lots of people leave after the fireworks at the other parks, but it happened to a much greater degree here.
     
  2. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

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    Natch. ;)

    Cool write-up SD - thanks!
     
  3. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Park design

    When I first heard about it being a "totally new style of MK", I was a bit worried. But after seeing it, it turned out fine. It's definitely a MK. At first, the sound of the carousel and Dumbo in the hub sounded strange, but it works. The size of the hub is enormous. It really is a whole land in of itself. The two spinners don't really detract from anything, and you hardly know they're there unless you're right on top of them. As to the rest of the park, it's enormous. The pathways are wide, and everything is rather spread out. In Hong Kong, they built the park rather compactly, with railroad on the outside of the initial build-out, with vacant land beyond and plans to expand from there. It give them room to add three new smallish lands later, but they ended up not moving the berm (presumably for cost reasons) and the layout is a bit odd. At Shanghai, each of the lands is quite large, with expansion pads built into the existing layout. I also suspect that there's land beyond the current development to add more lands (let alone a second gate - that's a separate issue), but they can do quite a bit of expansion within the current build-out without changing much. As a result, things currently don't seem crammed in, and it can be a long walk to get from one side of the park to the other. But it never seemed tedious.

    They also seem to have looked forward to re-use of initial facilities, in case what's there doesn't work out. In particular, the Frozen sing-along is in a huge building, which looks like it was built to full Broadway stage show standards, complete with the overhead set cranes in the back, above the stage (what are those called?). That whole mechanism doesn't appear to be used much for the Frozen sing-along, so I assume that the extra expense was made so that if someday Frozen runs its course, they have flexibility to put pretty much any stage production in there. Also, the Walt Disney Theater currently houses The Lion King, and is accessed via an entrance from outside the park, in Disneytown. That is, it's ticketed separately like any other Broadway show, and you don't need a park ticket to see it. But, the theater has "dual-headed" entrances. In addition to the Disneytown entrance, there's also an in-park entrance. So, if the Lion King someday runs its course, they can put in another public show, or use it for an in-park show, without having to do any remodeling or construction. They could even have both uses in the same day - clearing out one type of guest once one show was over, then switching which entrance was open to the other side.

    Several details like that made me think that they were looking forward in park design, spending extra money now where warranted in order to keep the total cost over time lower as things change and expand. This is very different from the initial build-out of, say, HKDL or DCA, where it was apparent that keeping initial costs down was paramount (is that were Eisner got the idea? Sorry :)), regardless of what it did to attendance or profitability. All things considered, it appears from this guest's standpoint that they made good decisions, and it seems to be well received so far. I know that some think that too much money was spent on it, but only time will tell: it may turn out to be like CarsLand and DCA 2.0: a lot more money was spent on that than seemed justifiable beforehand, but it transformed the park and was successful beyond expectations.



    Lion King

    We also saw The Lion King, which is the full Broadway production, but all in Mandarin. I thought it was of high quality. Many of the musicians were Western, but the stage actors seemed to be mostly Chinese, except for Rafiki, which is performed by a black woman, as per the character on Broadway, but this one speaks fluent Mandarin, or at least has memorized her lines and learned pronunciation well enough to pass. The two kids playing Young Simba and Young Nala, and the man playing Mufasa were in particular very talented. I don't know much about child actors, but it seemed amazing to me that they could find kids so young that could sing, dance, and act like that for a continuous one-hour portion of the show. And, the Walt Disney Theater itself is beautiful.

    The scene where Timon was attacked and nearly swallowed by alligators stood out a bit, considering recent events. There was no particular audience reaction. This gives me a chance to address something I saw on cnn.com. There was a story about how the alligator attack at GFH was overshadowing Iger's opening of Shanghai Disneyland. I don't see it that way, and I think it was sensational reporting. While a big story in the US, I think it was barely mentioned elsewhere. There are people attacked and killed by wildlife all around the world every day. I doubt very many people in Shanghai, other than the Western Disney CMs, were talking much about it. And, your average Chinese guest probably doesn't even know about it, or saw one story in passing. And, since the target market of SDL is not the average American guest, I think the two stories have essentially no overlap from a public perception standpoint or how it will affect Disney in the long run, even though the timing was unfortunate. And of course, I was saddened to hear about what happened in Florida.
     
  4. dagobert

    dagobert Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the fantastic report.

    SDL sounds like an amazing park and I'm also glad to hear that you had a fantastic time there.

    We just looked at airfares and instead of doing WDW and cruise in 2018, we might actually consider going to China.

    How did the park guests behave? There have been stories before the park even opened that it might turn into wasteland.
     
  5. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    What I didn't see

    I missed out on many things, due to lack of time: all the spinners, the Roaring Rapids ride due to long lines and lots of downtime, character dining, the Chinese tea house, all meet-and-greets, the majority of dining outlets, the rope challenge course (which I understand involves harness and is amazing), the exploration attractions in Pirates Cove, most of the streetmosphere, and most of Disneytown. I spent the first two full days in the park, except for a mid-afternoon break/nap back at the hotel. On the third day, we took it easy and had lunch at Disneytown and then saw Lion King.


    Crowds

    Opening Day had been reported as "sold out" since March. There were various media reports at the time, and continuing until we got there, that "The first two weeks were completely sold out," yet tickets for all but June 16 and 18 were continuously available for purchase on the Disney website. I was a bit disappointed to find that the park wasn't opening until 12pm on Opening Day, feeling that I was getting only a half day, but if you do the math, it's actually more than 70% of a regular day. Despite the large numbers of people at opening (I think everyone showed up at once for the 12pm opening, unlike a normal day), the park did not seem that crowded. FP was reasonable, most of the rides didn't get above 30-40 minutes standby time, and there was never a long line for food or lack of seating. But then the second day hit. It seemed that there were twice as many people in the parks, crowded (but not overpacked) walkways, and long standby times. It became obvious to us that even though Opening Day was "sold out," that they had limited ticket sales that day. Between that and the large number of extra CMs on stage (in particular managers imported from other parks), I think they wanted to do everything possible to make sure that Opening Day ran smoothly. I think that all of the press that was assembled there to attend the morning ceremony was turned loose in the park at noon, and they wanted to make sure that everyone had a good experience to report about. The second day, June 17, I think is a more-realistic example of what the park will be like going forward.

    As such, I think it's at least a two-day experience to see everything the park has to offer, assuming you go from opening to close and don't take a break. Make it 3 days if you want to work in Lion King and some other things at the resort. I don't think it would be a mistake to book a 4-night stay on site, giving you 3 full days to do things.
     
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  6. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    Great report! Sounds like there's a lot of really good stuff in the park, and plenty of spaces to fill in as the park matures!

    What did you think about the views of Disneytown from inside the park? It looks like it's highly visible (intentionally, perhaps?), which goes against every design mantra WDI has ever sold us. It's also incredibly close to the park, limiting any future expansion on that side

    That scene seemed odd to me when I saw the show ~8 years ago (I guess it's so Simba can overcome his fear), but it's always been a part of it. Plus, they're in Africa so they're probably crocodiles, not alligators! :p

    On a tangent, I've been really surprised by the extent of people's shock about the gator incident, and how far Disney has bent to accommodate it, everything from altering the Jungle Cruise spiel, to removing Louis from the new castle show and the Tick Tock crock from the parade, to putting the Electrical Water Pageant on hiatus, to investigating whether to shut down all water recreation. Yes, it is a very unfortunate scenario, but everybody know that the Florida swamps are full of scary wildlife, and it's the first time something like it has happened in WDW's 44+ years of existence. It was a fluke that seemed to strike a chord with people, but it's tough to say that it's anybody's fault, or that all references to alligator should be removed. It seems like the due diligence is running overboard here
     
  7. FKA_familyguy

    FKA_familyguy Member

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    I really appreciate you taking the time to share all of this! It sounds like a must see park!
     
  8. Phroobar

    Phroobar Moderator

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    Thanks Superdry! I guess there really is more to see than a half day park.
     
  9. Jim in Merced CA

    Jim in Merced CA Moderator

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    Great trip reports!
     
  10. dagobert

    dagobert Well-Known Member

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    @SuperDry are there any chances you might post some pictures? Thanks.
     
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  11. USS Fan

    USS Fan Member

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    Opinions on my experience at SDL on 20/21 June

    Despite being a weekday the crowd was definitely there though not as bad as on opening days and the weekend following it. I had 1.5 days and did almost everything except:

    1) Frozen ever after (travel partner not interested)
    2) Spinners (Jet packs was the most interesting but lines from opening are 40 min and do not get any lower than 30 min throughout the day)
    3) Ropes course in Camp Discovery (it was either rainy - 1st day or too hot - 2nd day to attempt it)
    4) Parade (Rained on the 1st day and got the rainy day version and left for the airport on the 2nd day)
    5) Stitch encounter - did various versions of it including that in HK so not that keen
    6) Carousel and tea cups - long lines as well

    Super dry did a great report and I'm not going to repeat everything here.

    Roaring Rapids

    This was essentially Grizzly River Run themed to a Meso-American theme. The ride layout was almost exactly the same - lift hill, rapids, enter cave, 1st drop, rapids out of cave, spinning drop, end.
    The one up on GRR was essentially the projection effects of the Qa'raaq before the first drop and the fluid nature of the animatronic (when it is working) as well as the whirlpool just before the spinning drop.
    Otherwise not much different.

    Alice In Wonderland Maze

    Themed to the life action movies, the maze is split in two by the castle walkway. The first part includes the many creatures in Wonderland eg Cheshire cat. You then enter a tunnel with projection effects under the walkway and enter the 2nd part including the Red Queen palace and the Unbirthday Party where the maze ends. Some interactive parts including swiveling cakes are at the end.

    ...
     
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  12. USS Fan

    USS Fan Member

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    Voyage to the Crystal Grotto

    Essentially a Jungle Cruise type ride with similar boats and setup but this time round you cruise past scenes depicting various animated movies. These scenes are activated by the boat and put on a fountain show. The finale takes place under the castle in the crystal grotto with project effects and the crystal of the attraction name

    Peter Pan

    Updated version of the dark ride similar to that in Anaheim except there are a few added scenes including that of PP taunting Hook and an extended fight scene and projection effect at the end. Ride capacity is increased at 3 per vehicle and offers FastPass.

    As for the other attractions I only experienced:

    1) Siren's Revenge - Treasure Cove play area. Essentially a pirate ship with some interactive elements with good views of the explorer canoes and Adventure Isle as well as Disney's version of the animated potraits
    2) Marvel Universe - similar to that in Anaheim with meet and greet with Cap, Spidey and Iron man as well as some displays
    3) Star Wars Launch Bay - again similar to that in Anaheim

    On the 2 days I visited I entered the park slightly before 8 am and was stopped by rope drop at the entrance arch. The park was opened 30 min earlier on both days at 0830.
    The Shanghainese have picked up the Tokyo AM Stampede habit and everyone runs either right to Adventure Isle or to Tomorrowland.
    21 June was bad for 1 day ticket holders as 4 attractions: Roaring, Voyage, TRON as well as 7 dwarves were down. TRON remained closed the whole day while the rest opened after 12 noon, with ride times exceeding 120 min.

    ...
     
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  13. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    Were they running the ride without the AA functioning? Although it looks impressive, I'd hate to see this ride go "disco yeti" so soon. I know they've been having issues getting it consistently operational, so I hope it's not something related to the AA, though I fear it is
     
  14. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Characters and "Synergy"

    There's been a well-documented trend over recent years to create "synergy" between in-park attractions and entertainment and other Disney IP. It seems that everything new these days must have a movie tie-in of some sort. I understand the motivation. Among other things, familiar characters and stories drive merchandise sales, and it's an easy message to put on a billboard to "Come see the new Cars attraction!" A lot has been written here about how many long-time guests are not particularly happy about it. Part of this is because it's often the case that the "synergy" is accomplished with an overlay to an existing attraction that was never designed for the new theme, making both an awkward or forced implementation, and loss of a favorite classic. We've also heard about how the Pixar characters are much better known in mainland China than the traditional Disney characters. As such, one worry I had was that I was about to enter the Magical Kingdom of Pixar. But it couldn't be further from the case.

    There is a lot of synergy with newer properties: TRON, POTC, Marvel. But there's also a lot of classics: Seven Dwarfs, Pooh, Alice in Wonderland, Dumbo, Peter Pan. And, refreshingly, lots of attractions based on park-only story lines, such as Rapids and Soaring. There was pretty much a good mix of old and new, traditional Disney and acquired, and original. No particular of those was dominant. Since all of the synergy attractions and entertainment was designed into the park to be that way from the beginning, none of it seemed disjoint.

    I do have to wonder about how the resort turned out this way. It must have been tempting to build out the place as an ode to characters that are already well known to the mainland Chinese audience, but that's not what happened. Hopefully there's enough familiar that will keep people interested at first, while also enough new to expand what they like about Disney. Which brings me to my next subject:



    Locals' reaction to the park and resort

    The vast majority of mainland guests to SDR have never set foot in a Disney resort before. And, it's been written about before that many of them have little familiarity with Disney characters beyond Pixar (and these days, Marvel and Star Wars). So, how well would the Disney experience translate into something that they'd understand, appreciate, and most importantly, pay a premium price for? There are lots of theme parks in mainland China. I have not been to any, but I have driven by some. One in particular in Shenzhen comes to mind: from the outside, it looked like a relic from 1970's Las Vegas, with lots of neon, bright colors, and so on. Very - shall I say - "gaudy" by today's standards (at least in the West). But upon inquiry, I learned that that park was just 2 years old at the time, and not 30 years old. Such as are many things in China. Such a park and its theming reminds me a bit of a Six Flags park in the US. I remember specifically one particular roller coaster from years ago that was called "Spiderman: The Escape!" or some such and consisted of a standard Arrow roller coaster, with a queue that had maybe 3 flat plywood cutouts of the character nailed up to the walls, with that being the extent of the theming or "story" told by the ride.

    Based on my limited observations at SDR, I think that the Disney theme park and resort experience is going to work there. Of course, it's up to each guest to find their own level of how deep they get into the theming - that's certainly the case at the stateside parks. But from what I saw, there are enough people there that "get it" or at least appreciate the difference without knowing why. Let me take you back to my childhood for a moment: I grew up in Los Angeles, about an hour away from DL. My family's once-a-year trek to DL was the highlight of my summer. Although I also had Magic Mountain and Knott's Berry Farm at my disposal, I always preferred DL. I did not go through the phase that many tweens and teens go through where "DL is for kids" and where they preferred the big iron parks like Magic Mountain. Not that I didn't like big iron, but I always just preferred DL. I couldn't even tell you why until many years later, and could not articulate even internally that things like theming and story made the difference. I didn't have a clue as to why, but just liked DL.

    That's the sense I got from many of the local Chinese guests. I saw a level of enjoyment and appreciation in the park that I was not expecting. Also, in Disneytown, there were guests spending money there that didn't have park tickets for that day. Also, whether it be lingering around the park entrance plaza in the evening (especially to catch a free glimpse of the fireworks) even though they didn't go to the park that day, or the many seniors that came to enjoy the Wishing Star public park that encircled the lagoon between the park and the hotel, I just got the sense that there were many people that came there not knowing quite what to expect, but appreciated and enjoyed what they experienced, even if they didn't fully understand it. And, a proper Disney resort experience does not require any particular level of "full understanding" - it's simply enough that people had a good time and want to come back.
     
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  15. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    I've wondered about that too. On the one hand, I can see the argument for putting characters into everything, to make it more relatable. But on the other hand, I can see how someone might say "Well, they don't know who Indiana Jones is anyway, so why not create an entirely new story about a giant crocodile?", which would allow them to build the entire story within the park setting, without requiring any prior knowledge of the IP. In a way, it seems like that approach could help build a bridge to connect to guests who aren't familiar with Disney's brand, but want to give it a try

    And that's great to hear that it sounds like the locals "get it". China is definitely a different market than early-80's Japan or early-90's Europe, so there were some big risks involved with how it would be received. I think we'll know better in another month or two, after the initial hype starts to wear down and the operations get settled, but it sounds like they're off to a good start
     

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