At Shanghai Disney Resort, Mulan, Mickey and Dumplings
The phone rang at 6 a.m. It was Buzz Lightyear telling us to wake up and save the galaxy.
The call, from an animated character, was the day’s first reminder that my family and I were staying at the Toy Story Hotel, at the new Shanghai Disney Resort. After lifting our eyelids, extra heavy with jet lag, we saw other signs. The walls of our room were painted with clouds. The carpet was decorated with Saturns and sheriff stars. In the courtyard, a statue of Woody, the cowboy-doll hero of the “Toy Story” movies, towered over the vegetation. Sketches of Woody’s friends adorned the shower curtain.
The Enchanted Storybook Castle, which sits just outside the center of Shanghai Disneyland.
The minibar was filled with nothing.
As we set down a corridor whose end we could barely see, we felt like toddlers lurching toward their destinations. At last we reached the elevator. Woody’s voice hooted, “First floor,” in English and Mandarin.
What were we doing in this three-dimensional cartoon, where the lobby columns were imperfectly aligned building blocks that seemed to have been stacked by giant babies? Where the reception desk was constructed with marbles the size of grapefruit?
My husband, Ernest, and I were rewarding our 10-year-old daughter, Shan, for her stamina and good humor. In the past four days, she had endured a 14-hour plane ride from New York to Shanghai and the embarrassment of watching her parents use clumsy hand gestures to communicate with the locals.
And then there was the emotional strain of visiting the country of her birth. It had been nine years since we adopted Shan from China at the age of 14 months. This was our first return trip, and Shanghai was the air lock we were passing though after leaving the mother ship of the West. Soon we would travel to a small city in Jiangxi Province to visit the orphanage where our daughter spent her first year. We would go to the Jinggang Mountains. Eventually, there would be Sichuan Province, hot pots and pandas.
Before this, Shan had occasionally asked us to take her to Disneyland, and we had always turned her down flat. I thought of Disney theme parks as unnaturally clean and cheerful places. To Ernest, who was raised as a somewhat observant Jew, Disneyland was like Christmas — something other people enjoyed.
But Disneyland in Shanghai? That would be different. The park, with its familiar characters, would reintroduce Shan by comfortable degrees to China. And Ernest and I would find it worth the price of a day’s admission to the theme park (about $230 for the three of us) to see Mickey and company translated by a country that had long resisted Disneyfication.
Disneyland Shanghai had been open less than a month when we showed up on a Saturday in July last year. After dropping our bags at the Toy Story Hotel, a low, blue-glass building surrounded by asphalt and crew-cut grass that reminded Ernest of a tech company campus in Silicon Valley, we boarded a bus to the park.
Our fellow passengers, all of whom appeared Asian, included hip young couples (Ray-Bans, porkpie hats), parents bookending single children and a few families with more than one offspring. Could they be Chinese? The country’s one-child policy, begun in the 1970s, had been recently rescinded. As it relaxed, some Chinese couples were allowed to have two children, and here they apparently were. Had Shan noticed them? After all of our conversations about the desperate conditions that forced Chinese parents to give up their babies, was she confused? Aggrieved? She has a face made for seven-card stud. It was impossible to read her thoughts.
At the park entrance, we found maple trees and a Starbucks. Thick strands of fountain water waved like boiling pasta, and the air was steaming hot. It took a long time to be admitted. Guards were searching through bags and confiscating contraband food. Visitors had to patronize the park’s restaurants or starve. We stood around with an adult tour group wearing orange baseball caps and a little boy with Bermuda shorts and a fauxhawk, playing with his mother’s cellphone. A striking number of people wore black-and-white horizontally striped shirts.
The crowd looked back at us with equal intensity, curious about our Chinese daughter and her pasty companions. On our first morning in Shanghai, a woman approached Shan on the street, while I was a few yards away, buying breakfast at a dumpling stand. She rattled off questions in her own language, gesturing toward me. Was I Shan’s mother? Her minder? Her abductor? My daughter, who speaks only English, wasn’t sure what she was saying, but ever since had been hanging a foot or two behind Ernest and me, close enough to keep us in sight but far enough (or so she hoped) to deflect attention.
Past the park’s entry gate, the Mad King Ludwig spires of the Enchanted Storybook Castle soared in the distance, and speakers burbled music from “The Nutcracker.” Shan admired the shops on Mickey Avenue (a renamed Main Street U.S.A.), which in the tradition of Disneyland retail seemed to draw equal inspiration from the Ponte Vecchio and Keebler Elf country. She had yet to learn that the entrances opened onto a single interconnected mall selling Disney merchandise. (When she did, she would not be disappointed.)
走過公園入口處，可以看到遠處奇幻童話城堡(Enchanted Storybook Castle)的瘋王堡(Mad King Ludwig)尖頂，揚聲器中傳來《胡桃夾子》(The Nutchracker)的音樂。姍喜歡米奇大道（就是換了個名字的美國小鎮大街[Main Street U.S.A.]）上的商店，它們是迪士尼樂園傳統的零售店，靈感似乎來自維奇奧橋(Ponte Vecchio)和Keebler小精靈。之后她又發現這些入口全部都通往一個販賣迪士尼商品的商場。（這個發現沒有讓她感到失望。）
A fairy tale schloss. A Potemkin village shopping strip. Elevator Tchaikovsky. It felt like Disneyland as usual, but Shanghai Disneyland broke from the template in crucial ways. We had learned from newspaper reports that there would be no It’s a Small World ride smacking of cultural imperialism. No Space Mountain invoking our interstellar dreams. But there would be Chinese zodiac gardens, each featuring one of a dozen Disney creatures like Thumper (Year of the Rabbit), and a teahouse called the Wandering Moon.
一個童話城堡。一個波將金(Potemkin)村莊式的購物帶。播放柴可夫斯基音樂的電梯。感覺和普通的迪士尼樂園沒什么兩樣，但是上海迪士尼樂園在某些重要的方面擺脫了模板，脫穎而出。我們從報紙上了解到，這里不會有帶有文化帝國主義色彩的“小小世界”(Small World)之旅。也沒有激發星際夢想的“飛躍太空山”( Space Mountain)。但是，這里有中國的十二生肖園，每個園子里都會有十二個迪士尼動物中的一種，比如小兔桑普(Thumper)，代表兔年，還有一個名叫“漫月食府”(Wandering Moon)的茶館。
Other attractions were related to some of the Walt Disney Company’s acquisitions, including Marvel Comics and the “Star Wars” franchise.
Officials quoted in the newspapers we read explained that the demographic disruptions of the one-child policy meant that the average visitor’s age would be older than it would be at other Disney parks. From what we saw, Shanghai Disneyland catered in no special way to grown-ups apart from a sign that advised us to seek out “cast members” — the term for Disney park employees — for assistance in finding a place to smoke. Another sign noted that wheelchairs could be found near the area where strollers were rented out.
Moving deeper into the park, we discovered that the wide boulevards were much less crowded than the streets of Shanghai. This must mean we could leap into any activity and cover vast tracts of the six themed sections, we thought. We were wrong. The posted wait time for the Become Iron Man entertainment at Marvel Universe, where we could virtually try on Iron Man suits, was 50 minutes. Boarding the spidery Jet Packs ride at Tomorrowland would take 75 minutes; riding the Tron Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster, 90 minutes.
進一步深入園區，我們發現，比起上海的街道，這里寬闊的林蔭大道不那么擁擠。我們覺得，這意味著我們可以快速前往任何活動，走遍六個主題園區的寬敞道路。但我們錯了。在漫威英雄總部(Marvel Universe)可以試穿鋼鐵俠套裝的“變身鋼鐵俠”(Become Iron Man)項目入口處，告示上的等待時間是50分鐘。在明日世界(Tomorrowland)登上細長的噴氣背包飛行器(Jet Packs)需要等候75分鐘；乘坐創極速光輪(Tron Lightcycle Power Run)過山車需要等候90分鐘。
Ernest and I offered to take turns standing in line. We were not being entirely selfless. Marvel Universe, a black, wart-shaped pavilion where boys were running around shrieking, “Wow,” was air-conditioned. But Shan’s nature is to scan from the periphery before committing to any adventure. So we wandered.
Soon we hustled to the side of Mickey Avenue to watch a gorgeous parade pass by. An all-female band wearing caps drooping long red feathers stood on the back of a dragon float. The women hammered kettledrums and struck a gong suspended from a pagoda. Flames burst from the pagoda’s top. “Mulan,” Shan explained.
At the Camp Discovery attraction at Adventure Isle, a 13-year-old Chinese boy wearing aviator sunglasses introduced himself as Rivers and asked to practice his English with us.
“How old are you?” he asked my husband.
We enjoyed reading people’s shirts. “Clothes Are Genderless” announced a small boy’s white tee. Other T-shirts said “Moschino,” “Miu-Miu” and “1-800-I-Love-You.” A man in his 20s in hot tangerine Nikes wore a shirt that said “Born to Try.” A woman in her 20s wore one that said “Everything Better.”
我們喜歡看別人T恤上的字。一個小男孩的白色T恤上寫著：Clothes Are Genderless（意思是：服裝是沒有性別的）。還有些T恤上寫著：Moschino、Miu-Miu、1-800-I-Love-You。一名穿著橘色耐克鞋的20多歲的男子穿的T恤上面寫著：Born to Try（為嘗試而生）。一個20多歲的女子穿的T恤上寫著：Everything Better（一切更好）。
Disneyland’s propensity for turning dark, anxious European fairy tales into shiny, bulbous entertainments had long struck me as odd. With China in the picture, it was positively surreal. At Pinocchio Village Kitchen, the décor was wipe-down Tyrolean, and the menu included pork ramen and seafood lasagna. The walls were illustrated with vignettes from Disney’s 1940 “Pinocchio,” a scrubbed version of the 1883 saga by the Italian writer Carlo Collodi, who clearly saw the worst in young boys. Not merely mischievous, the original Pinocchio murders the talking cricket that tries to give him wise advice and later abuses his ghost.
迪士尼樂園把黑暗、令人焦慮的歐洲童話故事變成閃亮、歡快的娛樂的能力一直都讓我感到奇怪。在中國這個環境中，更是顯得頗為超現實。匹諾曹鄉村廚房(Pinocchio Village Kitchen)的裝飾完全是提洛爾風格的，菜單包括豬肉拉面和意式海鮮千層面。墻上畫著來自迪士尼1940年影片《木偶奇遇記》(Pinocchio)的裝飾圖案。那部影片是根據意大利作家卡洛·科洛迪(Carlo Collodi)1883年的傳奇故事改編的兒童電影。科洛迪清晰地看到了年輕男孩最糟糕的一面。原版故事中的匹諾曹不只是淘氣，還殺死了試圖給他提供明智建議的會說話的蟋蟀，后來更是虐待了他的鬼魂。
Shan ordered pizza with fresh tomatoes, basil and balsamic vinegar (85 yuan, about $12.50, with a Pepsi). The dumplings I bought on the street in Shanghai, by contrast, cost 3 yuan (44 cents). We paid a cashier, who wore lederhosen and a straw hat, and took our food to an outdoor patio hung with Chinese lanterns. A Chinese instrumental version of “Let It Go” from “Frozen” played on the sound system. A boy next to us ate cut-up pizza with chopsticks.
姍點了披薩，上面有新鮮番茄、羅勒，放了香醋（85元，約合12.5美元，包括一瓶百事可樂）。我在上海街頭買的餃子只要3元（44美分）。我們把錢交給收銀員，她穿著背帶皮短褲，戴著草帽，把我們的食物端到掛著中國燈籠的戶外露臺上。背景音樂放的是用中國樂器演奏的《冰雪奇緣》(Frozen)的主題曲《隨它吧》(Let It Go)。做在我們旁邊的一個男孩用筷子夾著切開的披薩吃。
When we returned late that afternoon to the Toy Story Hotel, we found children gathered around a lobby television watching old Mickey Mouse cartoons with no volume. Cast members were twisting balloons into animals and flowers and handing them out. Shan asked for a rose. After noting the park’s bells and whistles, we expected the hotel to be more technologically impressive, with video games and animatronic characters.
We forgot about the nostalgia of “Toy Story.” Set in a postwar American suburb, the movies reveal an ache for the past and not just through the grumblings of old-fashioned playthings that compete for the attention of Andy, their growing boy-owner. The longing is baked into the midcentury décor. With its International-style architecture, Charles and Ray Eames-ish plywood seats and Eero Saarinen-sort-of mushroom-shaped tables, the hotel immersed us in the idea of “Toy Story” — a lost suburban golden age — as effectively as if we were handed virtual-reality headsets.
我們忘了《玩具總動員》的懷舊性質。故事發生在戰后的美國郊區，那一系列電影展現出對過去的渴望，不只是通過老式玩具的嘟囔，他們努力爭奪不斷成長的男主人、小男孩安迪(Andy)的關注。這種渴望體現在20世紀中葉的裝飾風格上。這家酒店的國際風格建筑，查爾斯(Charles)和雷·埃姆斯(Ray Eames)風格的膠合板座椅，以及埃羅·沙里寧(Eero Saarinen)那種蘑菇形餐桌，讓我們沉浸在《玩具總動員》的理念中——一個逝去的郊區黃金年代——就像給我們戴上了虛擬現實眼鏡。
The oversize playroom theme, evoking the toys’ point of view in the films, represented another kind of golden age: childhood. But here the hotel broke with its model. Youth through the lens of Pixar, which Disney bought in 2006, is no picnic. The joke of “Toy Story” is that Woody and his buddies only pretend to be inanimate when people are around. They are secretly alive, which means that just like real humans experiencing real development, they are hurtling toward death, painfully picking up lessons in maturity along the way. In the movies, the toys are roughed up by mean children and threatened with incineration, whereas the hotel, being a service business that charges upward of $125 a night, offered nothing but comfort and love. A crowd of cast members cheered us simply for entering the restaurant.
There, Chinese kites shaped like Buzz Lightyear and Slinky Dog hung from the ceiling; Chinese ideograms identified the different kinds of pastry. But everywhere the language of Disney superseded all others. The carrots floating in Shan’s bowl of chicken noodle soup were circles with mouse ears. The movies on tap in our room were all produced or released by you-know-who.
餐廳的天花板上懸掛著形似巴斯光年(Buzz Lightyear)和彈簧狗(Slinky Dog)的中國風箏，中國表意文字標明不同的面食種類。但是，不管在哪里，迪士尼的語言蓋過了所有其他語言。姍的雞肉湯面里漂浮的胡蘿卜做成了帶有老鼠耳朵的圓圈。我們房間里隨時可以點播的電影都是迪士尼出品和發行的。
Shan and I curled up with “The Incredibles” (Pixar, 2004). In this animated story of a depressed family of superheroes who are forbidden to use their powers, we again saw midcentury styles. The movie’s flashy cars and swooping furniture were throwbacks to an age of power, not impotence. They referred to the time of Superman, James Bond and tight nuclear families like the Cleavers, which were all part of the pastiche.
我和姍選擇了《超人總動員》（The Incredibles，皮克斯，2004年）。這部動畫片講述的是一個郁悶的超級英雄家庭，他們被禁止使用超能力。我們再次看到20世紀中葉的風格。那部電影中華麗的汽車和線條流暢的家具再次把我們帶回一個充滿力量的時代，而不是無能的時代。它是超人、詹姆斯·邦德(James B ond)、以及克利弗一家(Cleavers)那種緊湊的核心家庭的時代。
We were strangers lodging in a strange American fantasyland wrapped in the enigma of Asia, watching a family of misfits come to grips with their oddities and unite in triumph at the end. We laughed like hyenas and fell asleep.