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Shanghai Disneyland

Theme Park Guy Rating: 0
Date Visited:
February 22, 2009 / October 14, 2010 / June 16, 2011
June 14, 2012 / September 21, 2013
Location: View on map

Construction Update September 21, 2013

Latest update, 21 September 2013 (please scroll down for 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 updates):

- Street corner shop with smiling shopkeeper still alive, but surrounding village is gone.
- Lots of activity on site, but no rides going up yet
- Discovered a great viewpoint very close to the actual theme park site
- Pictured Shanghai Disney city office featuring Imagineers working late

Thanks to my friends Margot Chou and Drew Campbell for joining me on this little adventure!
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World War II film set? No, it's the villages surrounding the Shanghai Disney site. World War II film set? No, it's the villages surrounding the Shanghai Disney site.

Berlin Wall separating East and West? Not so! This one is separating reality from fiction. Berlin Wall separating East and West? Not so! This one is separating reality from fiction.

Shanghai Pudong skyline as of September 2013 Shanghai Pudong skyline as of September 2013

Pudong skyline seen from the Shanghai Disney lake Pudong skyline seen from the Shanghai Disney lake

Zoom out view over the soon-to-be Shanghai Disney lake Zoom out view over the soon-to-be Shanghai Disney lake

Yes, it's a bit scary. A good angle has its price! Yes, it's a bit scary. A good angle has its price!

A common sight around the Disney site A common sight around the Disney site

Last house standing Last house standing

First Mickey gets into the houses, then into the hearts... and wham-bam the house is gone. First Mickey gets into the houses, then into the hearts... and wham-bam the house is gone.

The street corner shop at Huangzhao Road is still there! The street corner shop at Huangzhao Road is still there!

It's right to the north of the future Magic Kingdom park... It's right to the north of the future Magic Kingdom park...

But not much to see from this angle! But not much to see from this angle!

Here is the new Shanghai Disney Resort site main entrance Here is the new Shanghai Disney Resort site main entrance

Not much to see here, either! Not much to see here, either!

...apart from a Shanghai Disney Resort project map, all in Chinese! ...apart from a Shanghai Disney Resort project map, all in Chinese!

Shanghai Disney Resort layout. Theme park territory is marked red. Shanghai Disney Resort layout. Theme park territory is marked red.

Stand alone, abandoned-looking house. Let's take a closer look! Stand alone, abandoned-looking house. Let's take a closer look!

Our location looks good (blue dot). The Magic Kingdom site is right to the left! Our location looks good (blue dot). The Magic Kingdom site is right to the left!

Up the stairs Up the stairs

Nature meets Disneyland, here we go! Nature meets Disneyland, here we go!

With the help of a pole you can even have a higher view With the help of a pole you can even have a higher view

Hello, Shanghai Disney theme park site! Hello, Shanghai Disney theme park site!

It's not a lake, it's not a parking lot, this is the actual theme park in the making It's not a lake, it's not a parking lot, this is the actual theme park in the making

Closer look! Closer look!

Pole up for an even better view! Pole up for an even better view!

At this point it's hard to tell what is what At this point it's hard to tell what is what

If you know, or can tell, please write to stefan 'AT' thethemeparkguy.com If you know, or can tell, please write to stefan 'AT' thethemeparkguy.com

Shanghai Disneyland, September 2013 Shanghai Disneyland, September 2013

Let's pan a little bit to the right... Let's pan a little bit to the right...

Park entrance will be on the left, Fantasyland on the right, Adventureland in the front... Park entrance will be on the left, Fantasyland on the right, Adventureland in the front...

...and the castle should be going up somewhere around that dirt mound in the center ...and the castle should be going up somewhere around that dirt mound in the center

Shanghai Disneyland theme park construction site, September 2013 Shanghai Disneyland theme park construction site, September 2013

Let's go see the site from a different vantage point Let's go see the site from a different vantage point

This is further away from the theme park site. Huge parking area under construction here. This is further away from the theme park site. Huge parking area under construction here.

One of the main Shanghai Disney access roads under construction One of the main Shanghai Disney access roads under construction

The Shanghai Disney city office resides inside this skyscraper The Shanghai Disney city office resides inside this skyscraper

If you take a sip at this Starbucks, chances are high you'll meet an Imagineer! If you take a sip at this Starbucks, chances are high you'll meet an Imagineer!

Floor 6 and 7 play host to Americans and Chinese working for a mouse Floor 6 and 7 play host to Americans and Chinese working for a mouse

Shanghai Disney Pudong city office entrance Shanghai Disney Pudong city office entrance

These company names are codewords for Disneyland These company names are codewords for Disneyland

Balloons in the office and light at night, that's a good sign! Balloons in the office and light at night, that's a good sign!

A big thank you to Margot, Drew and my Chinese friends! A big thank you to Margot, Drew and my Chinese friends!

Construction Update June 14, 2012

Here's an update from the Shanghai Disneyland site, one year after my last visit.

Not much to see yet apart from leveled land, with the area's characteristic water channels filled/removed. Multi-lane tarmac roads forcing their way through powerless countryside villages have appeared, and being primarily used by two- and three-wheelers are a sight to behold on their own.

Disney Imagineers take up residence in Shanghai these days, bringing much-needed creativity to China's uninventive theme park portfolio. Something tells me that the projected December 2015 opening date is set rather pessimistically - given that the land is ready now to have attractions built on it, it may open way earlier!


This sign reads 'Disney restaurant'. Entrepreneurship ahoy! This sign reads 'Disney restaurant'. Entrepreneurship ahoy!

Chinese ducks cast a shadow, Donald Duck grows behind the wall Chinese ducks cast a shadow, Donald Duck grows behind the wall

What's behind this wall, hubby? What's behind this wall, hubby?

The completed moat surrounding the Shanghai Disney site The completed moat surrounding the Shanghai Disney site

Shanghai Shendi Group / Disney site office behind the moat Shanghai Shendi Group / Disney site office behind the moat

There is probably some great, secret artwork behind these well-protected walls There is probably some great, secret artwork behind these well-protected walls

Disney site (left), separation wall (middle), Shanghai suburbia (right) Disney site (left), separation wall (middle), Shanghai suburbia (right)

Shanghai Disneyland site, June 2012 Shanghai Disneyland site, June 2012

Elevated view on the Shanghai Disney site Elevated view on the Shanghai Disney site

Brand-new tarmac roads have appeared Brand-new tarmac roads have appeared

Shanghai Disneyland access roads, June 2012 Shanghai Disneyland access roads, June 2012

Site entrance Site entrance

Truck stuck in the olden days Truck stuck in the olden days

Self-made Mickey drapes in a house close-by Self-made Mickey drapes in a house close-by

Roller Coaster Hat, still exotic! Roller Coaster Hat, still exotic!

This house owner wasn't happy with the relocation package offered This house owner wasn't happy with the relocation package offered

The Huangzhao Road gate is now closed The Huangzhao Road gate is now closed

But hey, the street corner shop is still alive! But hey, the street corner shop is still alive!

Construction Update June 16, 2011

There is visible progress on the Shanghai Disneyland site: the huge moat that will encircle the Disney resort is being excavated, the three or four entry gates to the construction site are now equipped with barriers and security, and the site office has employees coming and going. And in the background, it's all digging and digging.

It's the third time I've been on site, and I must say it still feels out of place that a brand-new Magic Kingdom park will see the light of day here. Here, where life appears as if from different times, and from a different world. It's not the orange farms of Anaheim close to L.A.'s film studios. Nor is it the swamplands of the Disney-embracing Florida of the 70s, the harbor of high-tech and wealthy Tokyo, the middle-class suburbs of Paris, or the landfill on Hong Kong's airport island. It's the flat, remote, poor villages of Chuansha, Qigan, and Zhaohang, with all their dirty channels, crooked houses, toothless dogs, and smiling cyclists that made way for the invasion of the mouse; a mouse that became so huge and powerful that it can swallow men.


The coaster hat clown is back The coaster hat clown is back

'Please, no!' 'Please, no!'

Approaching my favorite corner Approaching my favorite corner

Huangzhao Road (see previous updates below) Huangzhao Road (see previous updates below)

Disneyland site gate (one of them) Disneyland site gate (one of them)

Now equipped with barriers Now equipped with barriers

That's all you can see behind That's all you can see behind

Let's get an elevated view! Let's get an elevated view!

Wall at the front, moat in the middle, office at the back Wall at the front, moat in the middle, office at the back

Disney and/or Shendi site office Disney and/or Shendi site office

This wall lacks authority This wall lacks authority

Massive excavations Massive excavations

Closer view Closer view

Workers on site Workers on site

Photographer's angle Photographer's angle

Shanghai Disneyland site in June 2011 Shanghai Disneyland site in June 2011

Shanghai Shendi Group poster Shanghai Shendi Group poster

Disney's local (state-owned) partner Disney's local (state-owned) partner

The major construction site entrance gate is here The major construction site entrance gate is here

They call Disneyland the 'garden area'. Clever! They call Disneyland the 'garden area'. Clever!

The circular moat The circular moat

Different angle Different angle

The landscape is changing The landscape is changing

Shanghai Disneyland security wall Shanghai Disneyland security wall

A hole in the wall A hole in the wall

Looks like a cartoon character went straight through! Looks like a cartoon character went straight through!

Local residents Local residents

Local dogs Local dogs

Local socks Local socks

She lives next to the wall and owns Mickey Mouse shoes... She lives next to the wall and owns Mickey Mouse shoes...

...but she had no idea that the mouse is moving in next door! ...but she had no idea that the mouse is moving in next door!

Thanks for your help, Rada (on the right, speaks Mandarin)! Thanks for your help, Rada (on the right, speaks Mandarin)!

Infrastructure works Infrastructure works

Future access roads Future access roads

Lone worker Lone worker

'I will be back.' - 'Please, no!' 'I will be back.' - 'Please, no!'

Construction Update October 14, 2010

Holy swamplands! The villages I pictured on my last update below were indeed the right ones.

They have completely vanished.

A huge swathe of Shanghai suburbia has been flattened to make way for the future Shanghai Disneyland site and a wall just over half the height of the Berlin Wall protects the new depopulated hole that gapes in the area and separates the remaining Chinese villages from the Disney site. The on-site construction office is currently taking shape, supplied by armies of trucks that race through small village roads, blowing the winds of change through the thinning hair of old Chinese men on bicycles. It really looks like it sounds!

How do the locals take the change? I ask a local resident how he would react if his house would be next on the demolition list. He thinks for a few seconds, takes a drag on his cigarette, gets these reflecting Marlboro man eyes and responds: 'Well, let's see. It's ok. All up to the relocation package!'

Wow. Well. I really can't say now if this conversation was representative for the whole neighborhood, but it left an impression. Mao's disciples turned into business men. Good for me, since I am duly looking forward to seeing Disneyland's latest incarnation rising from the ground!


In the taxi again In the taxi again

What's that? Trucks on village roads? What's that? Trucks on village roads?

Locals point the way Locals point the way

The good old Huangzhao Road sign from my last update The good old Huangzhao Road sign from my last update

Something's changed Something's changed

Security cameras in Qigan Village? Security cameras in Qigan Village?

A gaping hole in the landscape A gaping hole in the landscape

The future Shanghai Disneyland site! The future Shanghai Disneyland site!

The upcoming Shanghai Disneyland construction/site office! The upcoming Shanghai Disneyland construction/site office!

Starring local workers Starring local workers

Finishing touches for the groundbreaking ceremony Finishing touches for the groundbreaking ceremony

The Disney office from above The Disney office from above

Demolished houses on site Demolished houses on site

Close up Close up

Disney site with separation wall in the back Disney site with separation wall in the back

Work is progressing around the site office Work is progressing around the site office

Cranes on-site Cranes on-site

The Great Wall of Disney runs through the neighborhood The Great Wall of Disney runs through the neighborhood

Close-up Close-up

Magic wall Magic wall

Not-yet-demolished houses in Qigan village Not-yet-demolished houses in Qigan village

Locals sitting in a shop facing the Disneyland site Locals sitting in a shop facing the Disneyland site

My great local assistant and our motivated driver My great local assistant and our motivated driver

Photos of today already feel like pictures from the past Photos of today already feel like pictures from the past

Construction Update February 22, 2009

You really need a vivid imagination to picture a Disneyland park near Chuansha town. At present the area is a stretch of countryside halfway between Shanghai's Pudong International Airport and Shanghai city consisting of wetlands, woods, meadows and streams.

My assistant and I talked to locals in the quaint bicycle-filled streets of Qigan village and Zhaohang village and they are all very familiar with the Disneyland brand. Some say they have been eagerly anticipating the construction of a Disney park for nearly 10 years and were beginning to doubt it would ever come. However, in January 2009 it was announced that the Shanghai government and The Walt Disney Company had agreed to build a Disney park in this area, a plan which is being 'reviewed by the Central government' now.

The opening is scheduled for 2014. There is a small chance that I was picturing the wrong spot, but the future site is definitely somewhere very very close to it. I am extremely curious as to what is going to happen here. The moment Disney puts a fence in the wood, I'll be back!


Chuansha exit - the future Disneyland site! Chuansha exit - the future Disneyland site!

Florida feelings Florida feelings

Future Shanghai Disneyland site? Future Shanghai Disneyland site?

Local vendor Local vendor

Local cyclist Local cyclist

Local mess Local mess

Local canal Local canal

Huangzhao Road Huangzhao Road

Local shop Local shop

My happy driver My happy driver

This village might be gone This village might be gone

Water from the canal Water from the canal

Local nature Local nature

Magic wood Magic wood

Shanghai Pudong airport is close Shanghai Pudong airport is close

A rainy day A rainy day

Chuansha exit Chuansha exit

The high-speed Maglev train passes through Chuansha The high-speed Maglev train passes through Chuansha



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