Disney reveals concept art for Shanghai Disneyland's Gardens of Imagination

December 5, 2013, 8:28 PM · Disney's slowly revealing more details about the design of Shanghai Disneyland, where the company appears to be making the most significant changes yet to its classic "Magic Kingdom" park design.

The centerpiece of the park won't be the traditional basic "hub," as found in varying sizes in the five other Magic Kingdom/Disneyland parks: Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris, and Hong Kong. The Shanghai hub will be an 11-acre "Gardens of Imagination."

Gardens of Imagination
Concept art courtesy Disney

Disney tonight released more detail about one of the gardens in this area: the Garden of the 12 Friends, a grove of peach trees with tile mosaic murals of various Disney and Pixar characters depicting the 12 Chinese Zodiac characters. (Remy gets the first one, for the Year of the Rat, of course.)

When we talked with theme park designer Dave Cobb last summer, he discussed the challenges of adapting Western theme park designs for a Chinese audience. The 11-acre Gardens of Imagination will provide plenty of space for multiple generations of families who visit together to sit and take photos in a beautiful environment filled with a blend of Chinese culture and Disney whimsy. It's a big change from the stripped-down Anaheim clone that Disney built in Hong Kong to lukewarm reviews and attendance, before the company responded with a massive investment to expand the park that ultimately resulted in Mystic Manor, a wildly popular new ride filled with cultural touch points for Chinese families.

Disney appears to have learned its lesson and is responding with an original design that promises to better reflect the desires of the Chinese audience. We will see how well Shanghai Disneyland accomplishes that goal when it opens in late 2015.

Replies (4)

December 6, 2013 at 4:24 AM · AMAZING!

It would seem to be worthwhile reminding everyone about the centerpiece of the gardens and how different it will be from previous Disney castles.

December 6, 2013 at 8:48 AM · Yes, a garden is better and it will help disperse the crowds better especially for those that want to take lots and lots of pictures. I noticed that there is no room for the Main Street vehicles, which was also not included in Hong Kong.
December 6, 2013 at 11:12 AM · As far as squared footage of land goes, will the be the largest magic kingdom in the world?
December 6, 2013 at 3:08 PM · I think this is a good idea! Even at Disneyland Paris, I saw there were a few subtle changes that catered to Europeans rather than Americans.

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