Shanghai Disneyland officially opens Zootopia

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Skyline of the Zootopia zone (© Shanghai Disneyland)

Today marks the big day for Shanghai Disneyland: After a few weeks of trial operation, the new Zootopia theme zone is officially open to the public starting today. The expansion marks the very first Zootopia zone to open in any Disney theme park, making it the first time guests can immerse themselves in the metropolis from the film. Major attraction in the new zone is the dark ride Zootopia: Hot Pursuit, in which guests join the film’s main protagonists for a chase through the city.

The official opening for the general public follows after a few weeks or pre-operation or selected people and cast members. During these weeks, a first onride video of the new ride was already posted on the internet. The official opening events of the new zone took place yesterday, with a surprising entrance on the stage during the speech of Disney Experiences Chairman Josh D’Amaro. He was interrupted by an animatronic appearance of Duke Weaselton, a character known from the film. The animatronic is able to roam around freely through the Zootopia area, or along the stage during an opening speech as demonstrated yesterday.

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Detail in the Zootopia zone (© Shanghai Disneyland)

The new themed area marks the 8th within Shanghai Disneyland. It is officially called Zootopia, after the city in which the 2016 film by the same name takes place, making it the world’s first zone to be themed after the franchise. The city in the film is a ‘mammal metropolis’, inhabited by all kinds of mammals one could imagine, living in different parts of the city that express their natural habitat, such as Tundratown or Sahara Square. Guests will be able to walk the streets of the metropolis and get immersed in the world they’ve seen in the film. Animatronics and projections make the city come to life, allowing visitors to meet its many inhabitants while strolling the streets.

The Zootopia film features main protagonist Judy Hopps, a rabbit from the countryside with a big childhood dream to become police officer in the city of Zootopia. She leaves for the metropolis to fulfill her dream, but despite her hard work, she is only assigned to parking duty by Chief Bongo. Hopps start to work together with the fox Nick Wilde, and they start to chase some mysterious crime network that Bongo does not want to pay attention to.

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Animatronics of Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde in the Zootopia: Hot Pursuit dark ride (© Shanghai Disneyland)

The flagship ride is Zootopia: Hot Pursuit, in which guests get to meet all the well-known characters from the film. They are invited to enter the police office, where they are welcomed by Officer Clawhauser and Chief Bongo, both appearing as animatronics. Riders are instructed by Bongo to join Hopps and Wilde on their current mission: finding Bellwether, a bad guy who kidnapped Zootopia pop star Gazelle. The mission should be accomplished quickly, as Gazelle is set to give a large concert that same night. Riders board ten-seater trackless vehicles shaped like police cars, and join Hopps and Wilde on a wild pursuit through the districts of the city.

Apart from the dark ride, the new themed area also includes the “Zootopia Park Apartments”, a location where many characters of the film come to life. They will interact amongst themselves (and sometimes even with the guests) throughout the day from their windows. I a similar way, we will find the animatronic of Duke Weaselton that was mentioned before roaming the streets of the area, thus creating a city full of mammal life. The zone furthermore includes a character meet-and-greet, locations to buy a variety of treats, as well as a merchandise shop.

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Ride vehicle in the Zootopia: Hot Pursuit dark ride (© Shanghai Disneyland)