Saturday, December 24, 2016

Christmas on Mickey Avenue

It's the day before Christmas, and I bring you... more Shanghai Disney photos!  Granted, I've only posted one so far, because it was a Christmas scene.  Well, today brings more of both, and also the start of a more in-depth look at Disney's newest theme park (and also the wrapping up of a tour of the Asian Disney Magic Kingdom entrance areas, after Hong Kong and Tokyo earlier this week). 
Guests entering the turnstiles of Shanghai Disneyland are immediately greeted by this Mickey Mouse floral.
 At Shanghai Disneyland, there isn't a "Main Street" per se.  Instead, guests enter into "Mickey Avenue," an eclectic mix of slightly cartoon-y and slightly nostalgic architecture that can best be described as what would happen if Main Street and Toontown got together and had a baby.  This direction was intentional.  Disney designers had to be sensitive to the Chinese government's views on American cultural intrusion, and plopping an example of small town Americana unfortunately would have been unfavorable.  Instead, the Imagineers chose to craft a fantasized version of a hometown that related more to Disney characters and identities considered more politically neutral.

The Mickey floral is, of course, a popular photo op.

Although there is an arcade that suggests one, no Disneyland Railroad exists in Shanghai Disneyland.
The result is a bit of architectural cacophony and a garish mix of styles and colors when one looks at the facades side by side or composed within a shot.  Yet, in person, with the benefit of peripheral perception to take in the whole scene, Mickey Avenue actually kind of works.  Sure, there is a smorgasborg of aesthetics, but they come together in a vaguely familiar and sub-consciously comforting way, creating an entrance area that feels friendly and inviting.

Shanghai has its own Disneyland band performers.

Avenue M Arcade is a series of stores that runs the entire length of the west half of Mickey Avenue.

The exterior suggests multiple shops, but it's all one.

This frame is probably the one frame that makes Mickey Avenue seem most visually chaotic, especially with the rather outlandish feel of "Goofy's Toys."

A familiar icon anchors the end of Mickey Avenue.  The Carthay Circle Theater tower is mainly a facade here, not its own space like the Carthay Circle Restaurant at Disney California Adventure, but acts as an effective "weenie" (Disney-speak for a monument to help center guests as they walk around an area or the park).
One other major difference between Mickey Avenue and the Main Streets of the other Disney Magic Kingdoms (including Tokyo Disneyland's World Bazaar) is the fact that Mickey Avenue is surprisingly short--half or 2/3 the length of Main Street in Disneyland California, and about the length of Buena Vista Street at DCA.  A lot of this real estate is ceded to the Gardens of Imagination, the first Magic Kingdom hub area to be its own themed land (and thus the largest hub area of any Magic Kingdom).  But given that the Imagineers also wanted to minimize the American Main Street connotations, the reduced length of this area probably helps keep the layout efficient.  It's mainly stores and services.  The restaurants that would normally be a part of Main Street actually end up splayed to the sides of Mickey Avenue when it opens up at the Garden of Imagination.

A few shops line the east side of Mickey Avenue too.

A snack shop called Chip & Dale's Treahouse Treats stands left of center here, while Sweethearts Confectionary comprises the right half and serves a variety of cookies, candies, baked goods, and assorted trinket-type souvenirs.
All in all, though, Mickey Avenue is a pretty and unique feature at Shanghai Disneyland, bridging a style that is authentically Disney but most certainly distinct in its own way.  It's the gateway to the rest of the park, and it's rather short and sweet, but it does its job and adds a bit of innocent and fun charm along the way.  Plus, it's rather lovely at night.  But we'll get into that on a future post.

Glancing toward Mickey Avenue from the Gardens of Imagination.

And enticement: somewhere behind there is rumored to be Shanghai's own Club 33!

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