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November 27, 2015

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Disney charts course for adventure with Treasure Cove

WHEN it opens next year, the Shanghai Disney Resort will feature the first “Pirates of the Caribbean”-themed land in any Disney park: Treasure Cove.

Lead imagineers Luc Mayrand and Catherynne Jean describe Treasure Cove as a “gift” for the park’s Chinese visitors as well as one of the most complicated projects ever undertaken at a Disney resort.

Treasure Cove promises plenty of colorful characters and fun-filled adventure. The themed land will feature a range of immersive attractions and experiences inspired by the “Pirates of the Caribbean” film franchise. There will also be pirate-themed restaurants and a water play area.

“It’s about the pirates and their passion for life,” said Jean, the project’s creative director, on the inspiration behind the new land. Mayrand, the project’s executive creative director, echoed this remark, saying, “We want to bring to life the fun, adventures and excitement of being a pirate.”

For Jean, Mayrand and countless others involved in Treasure Cove, the project has been its own epic journey into uncharted creative waters.

“We wanted to create something incredible, and our passion for creation is a common language for us,” said Jean, regarding her experience working with the Chinese engineers, artists, craftspeople and performers involved in the project. “We’re doing something together, side by side, and learning together, so we’ve bonded with each other.”

Among the attractions included in the new land is “Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure,” a ride where visitors will be “recruited” to accompany Captain Jack Sparrow on a quest to recover the treasure of Davy Jones. Riders will be transported on a rollicking adventure to the depths of the ocean, the bellies of pirate ships and straight into the heart of a ferocious sea battle. Along the way, they’ll encounter pirate crews, beautiful mermaids and even a kraken.

Blending Disney storytelling and advanced technology, the attraction features three large media domes, projected effects, lifelike audio-animatronic figures, theatrical sets and sophisticated lighting.

“One big challenge for us is that everything in Treasure Cove is brand new,” said Mayrand. “We have to start from scratch, design every detail, and choose from so many novel ideas from talent from different fields.”

Aside from the dazzling effects and impressive use of technology, designers say the ride also benefits from good old-fashioned attention to detail from a team of talented local artisans. According to Mayrand, one of the ride’s centerpieces, a 100-square-meter pirate ship, exemplifies the expertise of these fastidious craftspeople.

“We are stunned by the skills of the Chinese artists,” said Mayrand. “The carvings on the ship are simply beautiful, like magic out of the hands of Chinese sculptors.”

Treasure Cove will also boast an elaborate and exciting stage production — “Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular” — which promises to bring fantastic stunts and swashbuckling action straight to the audience.

For families with small children, Shipwreck Shore provides a space for young buccaneers to explore and play in the water. Meanwhile, parents can keep an eye on the action from a shaded relaxation area.

There will also be plenty of pirate-themed food available. Barbossa’s Bounty, one of the largest restaurants at Shanghai Disney, will serve spicy barbecue from “pirate chefs” in its themed dining rooms.

After so much hard work and planning, Jean, who has been involved with the project for five years, is now looking forward to seeing the first guests experience Treasure Cove.

“I think I will cry,” she said. “It is really a world of magic, and we want to bring this magic to China.”


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