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Hello Kitty Theme Park Coming to China

9 May
Hello Kitty wedding scene

Sanrio Puroland boat ride, Tama City, Tokyo, Japan

Mr. Broke Hoedown was kind enough to tip me off to the news that Sanrio has given permission for a Hello Kitty theme park to be built in Anji, China, just about a 3-hour drive from Pudong, the site of the upcoming Shanghai Disneyland. From AFP:

The creators of Hello Kitty, Japan’s world-famous cartoon icon of cuteness, have agreed to a $230-million outdoor theme park in China, the first on foreign soil, a company spokesman said Monday.

The Hello Kitty-themed amusement park will be completed in the city of Anji, in east China’s Zhejiang province, in 2014 under an agreement between Sanrio Co. and its Chinese partner, Sanrio spokesman Kazuo Tohmatsu said.

Sounds to me like this new Hello Kitty theme park could leverage Sanrio’s experience with Sanrio Harmonyland, in Japan’s Oita prefecture. The article also mentions “another plan to build a much smaller indoor amusement park featuring Sanrio characters in Malaysia in 2012,” which sounds reminiscent of my dearly-loved Sanrio Puroland (which I visited in 2002).

I think Mr. Broke Hoedown’s just building a case for me to join him in some trans-Pacific travel once these new theme parks come online. He’s planning a trip to Mongolia in a couple years, which might well take him through Beijing en route, and while Beijing and Shanghai aren’t exactly neighboring cities, they’re a heck of a lot closer to each other than either is to Boston.

My Anime Boston 2011 Panels: Hello Kitty Theme Park, Family Geekdom

23 Feb

Dear Daniel at Sanrio Puroland

Hello Kitty's boyfriend (husband?) Dear Daniel, in the Sanrio Puroland afternoon parade

Long-term readers of this blog might just remember that my favorite non-Disney theme park is Sanrio Puroland, the five-story indoor Hello Kitty theme park I visited in 2002.

Sanrio Puroland is located in Tama City, about 30 minutes outside Tokyo. You can take the subway there, if you don’t mind traveling through a good number of stations where the signs are written only in Japanese and Chinese characters. Luckily, I had a Japanese friend in Tokyo who gave me excellent directions, and my then-five-year-old son and I found our way there with little difficulty (the rest of the family decided to spend the day in Tokyo rather than visiting Hello Kitty’s homeland . . . gee, I can’t imagine why!).

This April, at Anime Boston 2011, I’ll be presenting a session titled, “Hello Kitty Holyland: A Personal Journey.” From the not-yet-published Anime Boston 2011 program guide:

Sure, you love Hello Kitty, but did you know she has her very own fivestory indoor theme park in Tama City, a quick commute from Tokyo? And have you ever considered making the ultimate Sanrio pilgrimage? Come to this panel to hear first-hand stories of my journey to this site where gaijin rarely tread with my then-five-year-old son, and watch the super-hard-to-find Sanrio animated and live action video that inspired three generations of my family to cross the Pacific.

If you’re going to be at Anime Boston, stop by to say hello! I’m also presenting as part of The Family That Geeks Together:

Ever wonder about this anime stuff your kids are into? Worried you could never understand all these crazy shows? Wish you could clue the parents into how great your favorite shows are, or why you spend all your free time editing AMVs and haunting costume shops? An actual family – two parents & a 14-year-old – talk about their shared love of anime and cosplay, offering tips on bridging the generation gap from either side. Bring your frustrations and questions, and come away with practical ideas for how to make anime cons a new family tradition.

Detailed information about both these panels, as well as my husband‘s panel on Anime and the Japanese Experience of  War, is available on our family Facebook page.

Favorite Disney/MGM Studios Memories

18 Jan

My Jentasmic! column today recounts some of my favorite memories of the now-extinct Disney/MGM Studios park. Sure, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is virtually indistinguishable from MGM, but I needed a hook for the column, and will take any excuse to reminisce. Here’s one of the memories, just to try to encourage you to read the rest over at StudiosCentral:

4) Stars and Motor Cars Parade, October 2006. Yeah, I know, I know. It’s nobody’s favorite parade. But see, here’s the thing. I’m quite the Star Wars fan, and my son’s following in my footsteps (he easily whups me at Star Wars Trivial Pursuit these days). And most of our WDW trips have been during the holidays, when the Star Wars characters take a break from their parade duties (what, maybe they’re up at the North Pole helping the elves pack gifts?). But that October we were lucky enough to make a special trip, so we finally got to see R2 cruise down Hollywood Boulevard. I tried to get a decent video for YouTube, but the audio track was too full of my shouting, “Oh my God, it’s Artoo! It’s Chewie! Hey, Artoo, come over here!”

Oh, and by the way, if you’re still looking for a new tattoo for Star Wars Weekends, Hello Kitty Hell has a little fodder for you:

Hidden Mickey Ears in Hello Kitty Tattoo?

9 Dec

Is it just me, or is Hello Kitty wearing pink Mickey ears?

(As seen on the Hello Kitty Hell blog, a daily must-read if you can’t decide whether you love or hate cute things.)

Nara Dreamland: Another Disney Clone Park

16 Jun

Thank goodness for the Interweb. How else would I have friends like Eric from MouseGuest, who send me links to awesome things I may have otherwise missed?

Nara Dreamland is another Asian Disney clone park, this time in Nara, Japan. The illustrated trip review at ThemeParkInsider presents it as a wonderful mass of contradictions. One minute you’re in Disneyland, the next you’re in that haunted, abandoned theme park from Spirited Away. And Hello Kitty is there too!

Haven’t had enough? Need a little spin on the Screw Coaster? Here’s a YouTube for you, from the same good people:

Video of Chinese Fake Disney Park

10 May

Have any doubts about whether Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park is a Disneyland knockoff? Just watch this:

Man, seeing those beloved characters represented through ill-fitting, cheaply-made fur costumes . . . and when they take their heads off in front of Guests . . . I can’t help but shudder.

But does anybody else find this all a bit amusing, especially in the context of the Mickey Mouse Protection Act? And the fact that many of Disney’s best-loved classic characters are based on public-domain folklore?

And there’s more on the Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park situation today from DIS News:

Disney bosses are in crisis talks with the owners of a ‘fake’ Chinese version of the famous amusement park.

The Shijingshan Amusement Park included a raven-haired woman with seven men in elf suits, a ‘Mickey’ mouse and other Disney-style characters.

Deputy general manager, Yin Zhiqiang, said: “The characters in our park just look a little bit similar to theirs. But the faces, clothes, sizes and appearances are different.”

“We do not have any agreements with Disney.”

Sanrio Puroland English Web Site Updated

4 May

Regular readers of my blog know that Sanrio Puroland is my absolute favorite non-Disney theme park.

Dear DanielI’ve just noticed that the Sanrio Puroland English web site has been upgraded substantially sometime in the recent past. If I’d had access to such an excellent web site when I was planning my 2002 trip to Puroland, I might not have wandered around so hopelessly in search of food, nor stumbled around so terribly confused, trying to figure out what attractions existed, and what they might be like! I might even have been able to figure out how to get there without imposing so heavily on a Japanese friend, or the kind stranger on the train who reassured me as I tried to figure out if I’d missed my stop. (Of course, in retrospect, these were some of the most wonderful things about the experience of visiting Sanrio Puroland as a hopeless, clueless, but terribly enthusiastic gaijin.)

Badtz and FriendIf you visit, I highly recommend the Food Machine restaurant, which has an excellent selection of easy-to-decipher foods. I scored a super-cool Shinkansen custard dish there! And you absolutely do not want to miss the parade. The costumes are spectacular, the atmosphere tremendous. Don’t worry about the fact that you won’t understand a word, it doesn’t matter.

And of course, the Sanrio Character Boat Ride is a must-see. A separate charge applies, but what’s another 900 yen once you’ve traveled all the way to Tama City, Japan, in the first place?

 

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