Disney Dragon Week: Hong Kong, Shanghai & Tokyo

Disney Dragon Week: Hong Kong, Shanghai & Tokyo

We’re in three parks today! So many dragons so little time. Let’s get started.

Team Mushu

When you think of Mushu, you are probably not thinking about being a team player. After all, Mushu spends much of his time trying to serve his own self interests. Narcissism is one dragon we should all avoid.

Mushu is part of the zodiac garden in Shanghai Disneyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Here we’re not talking about Mushu, but rather Team Mushu. In Hong Kong Disneyland Team Mushu is a Dragon Boat team that is composed of Hong Kong Disneyland Cast Members. And they’re pretty good. They’ve taken home trophies and the medals as you see from these images and videos. Disney has an annual tradition of canoe races among Cast Members. It’s entitled Canoe Races of the World or C.R.O.W. This team competes against other outside teams and are pretty serious. I wouldn’t want to go up against them in a C.R.O.W. race.

From Team Mushu’s Facebook Page.

Dragon Boats have been around for centuries dating back to the times of the first olympiad. It’s steeped in culture and tradition. Dragon boating is different than canoeing in that one end has the face of a dragon with the other end a tail. Another difference is that there is a drummer setting the beat at the front of the boat, while a steer person sits in the back. That job is not easy as dragon boats are always very long, inviting team participation (16-20) rather than perhaps one or two.

From Team Mushu’s Facebook Page.

There are many lessons to be learned from being a team member on a dragon boat like Team Mushu. I loved this article from Wayne Rawcliffe on 10 things I learned about Teamwork from Dragon Boating. Included is:

  • Timing and technique are more critical than power and strength
  • There is no replacement for a talented steer person
  • There is no “luggage” in the boat; everyone contributes
  • You paddle as hard on a bad day as on a good day

Paddles up to Team Mushu! If you’re out there, I would love to do a podcast with members of your team!

Dragonflies at Shanghai Disneyland

One of the most unique attractions at Shanghai Disneyland is The Voyage to the Crystal Grotto. Imagine really nice boats the size of Jungle Cruise boats embarking from the center of Fantasyland. What’s the premise? It begins with a child chasing after a dragonfly.

From the queue of the attraction. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

En route they pass by Disney scenes represented by fountains—including a pagoda featuring our hero from Mulan. It even includes Mushu!

Mulan. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

In China, some people associate the dragonfly with prosperity, harmony, and as a good luck charm. In fact, there is a public park and lake outside the gates of Shanghai Disney. The name of the children’s play area is Dragonfly Park. Water also is considered precious. The scenes in this liquid journey depict moments from Disney classics, all embodied in fountains of water. In ancient China, water was, and is, considered to be the source of all life.

The Sorcerer’s Apprentice. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Having passed by scenes from The Little Mermaid, Tangled, Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Aladdin and Beauty & the Beast, your boat ultimately winds up entering the caverns underneath the Disney’s Enchanted Storybook Castle. Where Disneyland Paris’s brought you into a tiny cavern with a dragon, here you are brought into a swirl of water, light, images and music. The magic of Disney can be found everywhere.

Inside the grotto. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The dragonfly ultimately leads you to a special engraved message that translates from Chinese to mean: Since now the Magic Crystal has touched you, please bring its power to touch the whole world! In other words, now it’s your turn to share this happiness with those around you. Share a positive energy in the lives of those around you.

What a great message, especially from something as small as a dragonfly! In an abundance mentality, we must all ask what we are the little things we are doing to touch others and to bring happiness into their lives. Nothing will root us more, nothing will give us a better compass to our lives than serving and sharing and giving to others. Ask yourself, what magic crystal, what power are you bringing into the lives of others? That’s a great souvenir to consider taking back into your own life.

Key message inside the grotto. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Pete’s Dragon

“A dragon, a dragon, I thought I saw a dragon…” –Pete’s Dragon

Finally, I said we would do just two parks. In truth, I had to bring another into this post. Disney Dragon week would not be complete without our friend Elliot from Pete’s Dragon. I love the child like quality of Elliot and how he lives his life to protecting those who need strength from others.

Ken Anderson who led the design of Elliot noted in an April 7, 1978 Studio Newsreel: “I don’t know how I came up with Elliott. I like to think of him as an example of China’s concept of the dragon as a symbol of luck and good will which came to them when they need him. He just came to me and I sure needed him.”

There is no attraction dedicated to Pete’s dragon. But there is one beautiful place he not only shows up, but lights the night.

Since 1972 the Main Street Electrical Parade has been entertaining guests visiting Disneyland. There was an original dragon in the parade, more akin to something you would see during a Chinese New Year parade, but lit up.

My favorite vinyl. Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade. Note the dragon on the cover.

In 1977, the parade changed after a two year hiatus with America on Parade. As part of those changes Pete’s Dragon debuted in both the Disneyland ( and also in the new Magic Kingdom version). Originally that dragon looked simpler, as he was only expected to be there for a season. At that time, new floats were temporarily switched in and out of the parade.

Earlier photo of Elliot by Disney

But in time a new version of Elliot came along. That version weighs more than 5,600 pounds, is 16 feet tall, more than 10 feet wide and is 38 feet long. In this version, most see him today like this:

Pete’s Dragon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Unless of course you are visiting Tokyo Disneyland, in which you will see Elliot in a more spiced up version for Tokyo Dream Lights. Here Pete doesn’t ride on his neck, but rather Elliot holds him in his hands. It’s really charming.

Pete’s Dragon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Audiences love them in Japan. Here is a video of the same float coming down the street. I love the music of It’s a Brazzle Dazzle Day, one of the great Disney songs out there.

Here are some lyrics from another piece of fantastic music in the film:

“I’ll be your candle on the water. My love for you will always burn. I know your lost and drifting but the clouds are lifting. Don’t give up, you have somewhere to turn.

By the way this music was from Joel Hirschhorn and Al Kasha. Previously they wrote music to The Towering Inferno, and The Poseidon Adventure. When the wrote the song Candle on the Water, consider the two elements they took from each of the previous films to form the title of this piece of music. Here’s another lyric from another song:

“There’s room for everyone in this world, Back up and make some room. Let’s all move over and share this world, Everyone make some room.

“There’s room for everyone in this world, will everyone make some room. Love given freely can spare this world, let friendly feelings bloom!”

Just give an inch, give a yard, never flinch. When the time comes to offer a hand. So let’s all make sure we give everyone somewhere to stand, Just the way God planned it, just the way God planned.

Nora says it another way in the film: “Well if there’s enough room for a chowder-head like you, then there is more than enough room for a dragon.”

Again, in the spirit of abundance, these dragons and dragonflies teach us that we must look out for one another, care for one another, be there for one another.

That wraps it up for Disney Dragon week. Like Elliot and Figment, and Team Mushu there are great dragons out there if we just look for them. And then again, like Maleficent Dragon there are fierce dragons out there. There are dragons we fight around us, and there are dragons we deal with deep inside us. Neil Gaiman of Coraline fame noted, “Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

We hope you enjoyed the stories and examples we shared this week. If you like these kinds of messages and examples relating back to your life or business, consider joining us for our Walt Disney World Best Practices Program. Four days this December where you’ll see best in business ideas come alive. We’ll be in all four parks, including Disney’s Hollywood Studios as the new Rise of the Resistance opens. You’ll definitely want to join us, so check it out!

J. Jeff Kober

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