“Distinctly Chinese” representations of Shanghai Disneyland

Opened on June 16, 2016, Shanghai Disneyland is part of Shanghai Disney Resort, which also features Disneytown, Walt Disney Grand Theater, Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, Toy Story Hotel, and Wishing Star Park, with a promenade and a lake across about 40 hectares (approximately 99 acres). Under the creative direction of being “authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese,” Disney hired Chinese architects and designers to keep the iconic Disney characters but downplays direct Americanness and pays homage to the Chinese culture. In exchange for the maximum returns on its investment in Shanghai Disneyland, Disney attends to the Chinese local context carefully for the local visitors to groom a sense of ownership.

Inclusion and exclusion at Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Disneyland followed Walt Disney’s original concept of the Disneyland layout: “Have a single entrance through which all the traffic would flow, then a hub off which the various areas were situated. That gives people a sense of orientation” (Smith, 2001: 54). Under such a design, visitors do not wander aimlessly but return continually along paths that have been walked, which ensures stability and encourages an intention to return (Clave, 2007; Urry, 1995).

There are seven themed lands and areas at Shanghai Disneyland: Mickey Avenue, Gardens of Imagination, Fantasyland, Adventure Isle, Treasure Cove, Tomorrowland, and its first major expansion in

  • 2018, Disney-Pixar Toy Story Land (Figure 5.1). On December 15,
  • 2019, Shanghai Disneyland announced the construction of its eighth themed land, Zootopia, the first Zootopia-themed land at a Disney park. Here, theming is a means of social interaction. It involves the use of story and technology to create entertainment that evokes a fantasy, a location, or an idea (Lukas, 2007).

Toy Story Land



Gardens of


Treasure Cove


Mickey Avenue

Adventure Isle


Figure 5.1 Themed lands at Shanghai Disneyland

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