Alexander: It’s so great to finally be back at one of our absolute favorite places, Shanghai Disney! And this time we aren’t freezing our butts off like we were in January of last year!
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We prefer this Toy Story Land over the other three in terms of execution. Orlando’s has the best ride line-up, but Shanghai’s has the best foliage and some nice details not found in the first three Toy Story Lands. We’ll be back for more of the area later.
Since we’ve been here a few times, we sorta blew past the entrance and standard castle shots and went straight for TRON. Now that we’ve had our fix on the coasters, we slowed down a bit to take more photos.
Gardens of Imagination (a.k.a. Shanghai Disneyland’s hub) is perhaps the most underrated area of the park. While most other Disney park hubs are an extension of Main Street U.S.A., Gardens of Imagination has an aesthetic unique to Shanghai Disney and even has a few attractions (Fantasia Carousel, Dumbo, the Mickey Meet-and-Greet, and more).
Something that sets great theme parks apart from good theme parks is the ability to enjoy yourself without actually “doing” anything; Shanghai Disney has this quality in spades. There’s no doubt you can have a great time at the park even if you don’t like rides – there’s plenty to enjoy just walking around.
Although there will definitely be some major changes; a popular rumor is entire trains of sit-down vehicles for the Orlando installation, instead of the single sit-down vehicle on two of Shanghai’s seven trains.
Whole trains of sit-down vehicles interspersed with Lightcycle trains would also play into the rumored name change for the Orlando version: TRON Power Run. This year’s D23 revealed TRON Lightcycle Run as the running title for the ride, but exchanging “Lightcycle” for “Power” makes a lot more sense when not every train is expected to feature Lightcycles.
We also expect an altered station pre-show incorporating the sit-down vehicles into the TRON: Power Run story line. Should’t be too hard, since the ride’s entire premise of power gates and racing Lightcycles was dreamed up specifically for this attraction, with the source material films only providing aesthetic and otherwise vague inspiration.
TRON reminds us a lot of what Disney did with The Twilight Zone: Tower of Terror. Like T.O.T., TRON is inspired by a thematic universe without taking much from it directly – there’s no “Power Run” in the TRON films, just like there’s no actual “Hollywood Tower” episode of The Twilight Zone.
Not only does this allow imagineers to flex their stuff without having to worry much about source material continuity, but it also helps with keeping these attractions easy to understand on a storytelling level for guests who’ve never seen the source material.
Chevy’s TRON Realm exhibit at the exit of TRON Lightcycle Power Run feels like what Test Track’s exit exhibit would like to be. Since Epcot basically has this already, I wouldn’t expect something similar for Orlando (unless it was integrated with the queue in some way – the assumption being that oceans of overflow queue will be necessary, seeing as Shanghai’s permanent queue setup can only hold about an hour’s worth of queuing).
After lunch we headed back to Andy’s backyard to take a closer look around. Here we have Toy Box Cafe, a food court unique to the Shanghai Toy Story Land. The little restaurants are actually a retrofit of the temporary “Friendship Cafe,” which opened with Shanghai Disney and only operated on peak days.
Toy Story Land was originally intended to be part of Shanghai Disney’s opening day roster, but was delayed for budgetary reasons. Like Celebration Cafe, Toy Story Land’s bathrooms (which vaguely resembled a large flower pot and a tub of Green Army Men at the time – they’ve since received the rest of their theming) were needed at park open for infrastructural purposes.
Perhaps the star of Shanghai’s Toy Story Land is Woody’s Round Up. While the ride itself is the same as Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree and Alien Saucer Swirl, its theme is unique to Shanghai Disney. For the first time, Woody actually has a ride named after him!
Our ride on Winnie the Pooh was eye-opening: for the first time, Shanghai Disney was starting to show some wear and tear. Maybe the ceilings have always looked this way, but in any case we noticed Pooh‘s station a lot less polish than everything else here.