At Shanghai Disneyland, it is not only attractions that are inspired by Disney’s movies like TRON but also an entire themed land. Treasure Cove, inspired by the blockbuster movie franchise Pirates of the Caribbean. Treasure Cove is Disney’s first pirate-themed land. This land features a full-sized pirate ship, a Caribbean style town, the world’s first Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure ride, Explorer Canoes, and a Shipwreck Shore water play area. In order to drive the synergy effect, on May 11, 2017, Disney premiered Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales movie at Shanghai Disney Resort with a party at Treasure Cove after the screening. It was the first time that China hosted the world premiere of a Disney movie.
Shanghai Disneyland is the largest Disneyland outside of the United States with innovation and cutting-edge technology that was not available in Disney’s earlier parks. The best example of such technological advances is the boat ride Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure (Pirates), the largest attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, taking up 16,340 square meters. This high-tech version is different from the original Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, which opened at Disneyland Anaheim in 1967 overseen by Walt Disney. At Shanghai Disneyland, it
“Distinctly Chinese’’ representations of Shanghai Disneyland 75 is a heritage ride with the most advanced technology and a locally familiar movie character, Johnny Depp’s Captain Jack Sparrow, to steal treasure from the movie’s computer-generated image of Caption Davy Jones while meeting virtual monsters in a high-seas adventure.
Contrary to the high-tech ride of Pirates, Explorer Canoes is a people-powered ride inspired by the decades-long canoe rides at Disneyland in the United States and Tokyo Disneyland. At Shanghai Disneyland, the canoes paddle from Dead Man’s Dock to travel around Treasure Cove’s landmarks such as Skull Island and Lighthouse Ruins. Shipwreck Shore is a water play area where the audience can fire a cannon and visit a captain’s quarters aboard Captain Gibbs' ship, the Siren’s Revenge. Another first at Treasure Cove is Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack's Stunt Spectacular, a 30-minute stage show.
Walt Disney Grand Theater
Walt Disney Grand Theater in Shanghai Disneytown, part of Shanghai Disney Resort, hosted the world’s first The Lion King stage show in Mandarin, which premiered on June 14, 2016 and was succeeded by the Mandarin version of Beauty and the Beast two years later. The Lion King Broadway show has been a success since its debut in 1997 and has reached 85 million people in about 22 countries as of 2016 when Shanghai Disneyland opened.
In this Chinese version, the main character young lion Simba’s meerkat friend Timon in one scene, instead of dancing a Hula as in the original version, wears a Peking Opera costume and, with Simba’s warthog friend Pumbaa, sings a theme song from the Cultural Revolution-era communist play The Taking of Tiger Mountain, which was made into a movie in 2014 and reached over US$140 million at the box office in China. Simba’s evil uncle Scar sings a local modern hit, the so-called “divine tune,” Zui Xuan Mincu Feng (the hottest ethnic style) from local pop duo Phoenix Legend. Furthermore, the movie’s secondary antagonist hyenas speak fluent Mandarin with strong Northeast Chinese accents. (In the original version, Timon and Pumbaa speak English with a Brooklyn accent.) Curiously, the legendary Monkey King from the famous Chinese classic literature Journey to the West makes a special appearance to help Simba fight off the hyenas.
Disney tried hard, and maybe too hard, to act Chinese at this show. Unsurprisingly, this version of “The Lion King with Chinese characteristics” caused criticism from the local audience. Some said that their childhood memory was ruined, and some wondered why it was Northeast accent but not Shanghainese dialects to be featured.
However, it by all means pleased the government officials as it was an explicit example of how “Chinese elements highlight Shanghai Disneyland,” a headline on China Central Television’s website.