As someone who grew up in the U.S., I never really got the Disney bug as a child. Maybe it’s because I grew up in New York, far away from either Disneyland and Disneyworld. My first experience with Disneyland wasn’t until I was in college and visiting an aunt and uncle in Los Angeles. There also wasn’t much to pick from in animated Disney films as I was growing up. Fast forward, and today, thanks to having a 4 year old daughter, I’m in over my head in Disney paraphernalia. I can tell you the name of every Disney Princess, including the one who’s going to be introduced this December.
We’ve spoiled our daughter and taken her to Disneyland for her birthday each year, so we’ve gotten pretty familiar with the theme park. In addition my company has even held an event in EuroDisney, which I got to attend. What I didn’t realize until reading about the latest Disneyland planned for Shanghai, is that there’s already one in Hong Kong and Tokyo.
The park in Shanghai has been in planning for the last 20 years, and finally won approval this month. It’s estimated it will be completed in 5 to 6 years and be a little larger in size than the current Disneyland in Anaheim, CA. Disney hopes this theme park will create the kind of marketing engine that the other Disney parks have, encouraging families to buy into the paraphernalia the way my family has.
In part, the promotion of Disney within my own family has been largely my fault, as I was looking for role models for my daughter, and thought Mulan, with all its flawed images of Chinese culture, was at least a good independent Asian female role model, and not the helpless princesses of other Disney classics. Unfortunately, my daughter never took to Mulan and instead favors Snow White, who relies on others to save her. Disney to their credit did also produce an American Native Princess, Pocahontas, and East Indian Princess, Jasmine. And finally this Christmas season, the African American Princess, Tiana. My daughter can’t wait to go see this latest movie, so I think I’ll refrain from letting her know there’s another Disneyland she can visit until she’s a little older.