Continuing on with the tour around the park we have reached the Gardens of Imagination and will now go counter-clockwise. Normally this is Tomorrowland in many of the Disneyland parks around the globe. But, here, it is home to Adventure Isle – a new type of land just for Shanghai Disneyland. Although it does fit with having an Adventureland, it also blends some ideas of Frontierland into it as well. You’ll see why as I go on…
Mystery and Enchantment
Adventure Isle feels like one of the most mysterious places ever constructed by Walt Disney Imagineering. Entering under the Adventure Isle sign guests are greeted by lush vegetation and a big mountain, translated in English to “Roaring Mountain.” This mountain is grand, and the highest in all of Shanghai…but that’s like saying Splash Mountain is the highest mountain in Florida. As you start to go down the paths of the isle, a river coming from the waterfall of the mountain serves as home to Explorer Canoes. In all, this land has a natural environment with man made structure built in. It’s a gorgeous landscape that makes it feel like a true jungle environment.
Danger, Will Robinson!
Besides the jungle plant life, there are other elements that make this feel like an adventurous area. Evidence of this being a community village is all around, from the lamps that light paths, to rock sculptures of animals littered throughout the place. These are all indicators that the natives are trying to have a balance to nature and thrive in it. But, there’s a bit of a dangerous feel to it all. In the distance, and sometimes along the river, a roar can be heard that would stop anyone in their tracks. This is the Q’aráq, a crocodile-like creature that lives in the mountain. He greets visitors at Roaring Rapids, but can be heard throughout Adventure Isle.
The other enjoyable, but sometimes foreboding element of sound is the tribal drums that play as background music. Usually upbeat, danceable music, it’s sometimes a bit worrisome to hear drums without seeing the drummers. Are the natives friendly? Most likely, but the lack of seeing them at times gives Adventure Isle the sense of danger and excitement that hasn’t been felt in any other Adventureland.
Soaring and Rafting
The two main attractions in the land are Roaring Rapids and Soaring Over The Horizon. Both are extremely popular in the park, and had the longest wait times of any attractions. The Rapids are fashioned after Grizzly River Run in Disney California Adventure, but with a giant animatronic in its depths, and a wonderful landscape to drift down. The backdrop of the mountain and waterfall is both intimidating and gorgeous. It is an adventure and a relaxing cruise at the same time.
Soaring has a unique idea to fit the land that its in. Though it uses a film that is now at every park Soarin’ is at, the queue, safety video, and ending is unique to Shanghai Disneyland. The queue is in a South American temple, which fits with the entire Americas theme of Adventure Isle. At one point, the temple opens up to have a view of an amazing starlit night sky. The safety video expands on the native South American village concept. A shaman of sorts that can change into an eagle greets everyone and explains she will turn everyone into birds to soar around the world. It works with the mystery of the isle and the grandness of Soarin’. The ending of the film takes guests over the Shanghai skyline at night, complete with neon lights and fireworks. Sure, it’s not South America, but it is a great homage to the home of the park.
Besides the Explorer Canoes, another great exploration area is Camp Discovery. This playground has a Challenge Trail that actually harnesses people in ropes to trek across the mountain. You get up close and personal with the waterfall, and encounter other challenges. A Vista Trail lets visitors see the sites without being harnessed in.
A New Frontier
Adventure Isle is a new way of having an Adventureland. It has a rich theme that made it feel exciting and enjoyable. So, why a bit of Frontierland? Adventurelands have seemed like a mish mash of communities put together as the themes will hail from Africa, Asia, and the Americas all together. This is one central location that is host to a community of people. Like Frontierland at several parks, it feels like we are guests at the homes of the natives. We could meet anyone and enjoy a meal with them. It has that town sense to it that Frontierlands have had. In all, it was an intimidating and amazing land to venture into!