After our trip to Disneyland, in California, in 2017, my sister and I realized we wanted and could visit all the Disney parks. For those who don’t know, aside from California and Florida, there are four other parks: Paris, Tokyo, Shanghai, and Hong Kong. All four of them are completely different and influenced by the cultures they are in. For example, pin trading, which is popular in the states, isn’t popular in all of the parks. There are characters in the Asian parks that we rarely see in the US.
There are some key reasons for these differences, not just the culture. One has to do with Disney being the sole owner or the partner of the park. In the US parks, Disney owns them completely. On the “Keys to the Kingdom” tour we were told the nice, on-stage version of what the Disney brothers did as part of their Florida land grab in the 60s and 70s. Internationally, the company has partners that share ownership and park management. A lot of the problems with Disneyland Paris have often been laid at the feet of these partners. I have no idea if that’s true, but people share their experiences.
One of the things I started doing, as soon as I got back from California, was to watch YouTube channels about the company. It started as my way of learning about pin trading, which I am OBSESSED with, but it become more than that. I watched videos about the history of the parks, the evolution of the company, the abandoned elements, and the upcoming plans. I learned about the tours, the scavenger hunts, the events, and more. All of these elements became part of my research for Northanger Park, the fourth novel I’ll be publishing, and for my own travel plans.
I discovered there were differences even within the similarities. For example, Space Mountain, a ride that exists at five of the six parks, is different at each of the parks. The Haunted Mansion changed for each park too. These rides get different designs and stories based on the park, the building details, and whoever created that version. When we went, the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland was changed for Christmas, so it was nothing like the one in Orlando.
An element specific to the Orlando parks is the Magic Band, which is how they know everything! No, seriously, everything! We rode It’s A Small World and just walked on, but it displayed our names because we had the bands on. Never forget they are tracking everything you do as long as you wear the band and you need to wear the band to get into the park. The other resorts don’t use the bands and there are rumors that they might be going away in favor of the phone app, which is already working very similarly and costs way less to maintain. Right now there doesn’t seem to be