Yes, it's time for that no-good self-promoter and Lifestyler wannabe, the one, the only ... me ... to return with some serious chatter involving the company you obsess about and the business Disney is in. Topics to be discussed will be SDL, TDR, D23 Expo, Mary Sklar and how they all connect with WDW. If you want to talk about how much you love BB-8 or Thor, want to discuss box office of various summer films (money and popularity does not equate with quality as examples like Walmart, McDonald's and Starbucks prove every day) or talk about how both Bob Iger and Donald Trump are better human beings than Walt Disney, this isn't the place for you. So just leave. Now. I'd simply ask that people stay on topic and report posts that go way off. This forum is a mighty big place and there are plenty of other places to discuss why charging for FP (what IS coming to WDW) is simply good business. And with that we are off. I have spent a lot of time this summer at Disney's international outposts in Paris, Shanghai and Tokyo, so not able to buy the suddenly available GMR and UoE merchandise that was never available before. I did return briefly with Paris thoughts earlier this summer and think I"ll leave Paris for the D23 chatter as it was telling that almost nothing was discussed about the resort's future. Besides, Shanghai has been a topic of intrigue and curiosity since it was announced and while I had hoped to be at the opening, circumstances -- not the least being Disney not knowing when they would throw the gates open -- didn't allow that. I will eternally regret that I wasn't an uber kewl American blogger with unending supplies of money (almost entirely unearned by said individuals) who can drop everything and travel around the world at the drop of a construction wall. I am an adult who lives in reality and I can"t do that. But I did miss the John Lasseter meet and greets ... sigh ... sob ... I know I am considered a critic of SDL and that is true, but I greatly enjoyed the park. BUT in no way would I advise American fans to visit it as their first international destination. I have always said DLP should be first, followed by HKDL and TDR. I still believe that is sound advice and would place SDL last to visit. Not because it is bad. But because it still China and very foreign and the most culturally foreign (yes, I know arguments can be made about Japan, but those can be off-set by the amazing quality of the product and the service you get in Japan). First, let's get this out of the way. SDL has a different feel than any other castle park in the world. And it isn't in that crazy fanboi from the east visiting DL for the first time and saying "I didn"t feel any MAGIC. The castle was tiny. And there was no Peoplemover too!" No, SDL feels unique for a few reasons: 1.) It absolutely feels like the CCP's Disney park; and 2.) It has no natural flow or feel whatsoever, despite spectacular theming in parts. It feels like it is a showcase of Bob Iger's IP that Disney wishes to sell to the masses of the mainland because that is exactly what it is. That castle that people have debated all over the Disney Twitverse can be beautiful from certain angles, but largely is as ugly as you might think. The size and scale are off, purposely. Why? Because the Shendi 'partners' demanded the biggest and most ostentatious castle for bragging rights. If you think size is everything, and some fanbois surely do, then you'll likely have no issue with this. I found the castle to be much nicer internally, from the criminally underrated Show White walk thru attraction (one that requires climbing more stairs than the average WDW Guest likely climbs in a month) to the shop to the mosaics representing various Disney princesses. Storybook Castle is the perfect metaphor for SDL. It is large. It is loud. It is imposing. And it attempts to demand your attention versus the seduction in other castle parks. I get that Bob Weis and his largely Chinese design team were given a specific brief where everything (or almost) had to be a world or Asian exclusive (recall that"s why Disney ignored the Pooh dark ride clone). I get that they wanted to do a different take on a castle park. I get that they wanted to leave plenty of room for expansion. But there are many ways to accomplish the feat and SDL is a very mixed bag (sorry, Dakota! more sorry that Disney hasn't hired you!) that doesn't work well as a cohesive whole. I have never walked so much in a castle park as I did in this one. Unlike other MKs, this one doesn't feel logical and the ability to get one place from another isn't as easy as it should be. Quite frankly the design and layout of the park are lousy. And the capacity isn't what it should be for the crowds that pour in. Some advice: don't go in summer and don't go the week before prices go up. Adventure Isle and Pirate Cove are top notch in immersive theming, details and landscaping. Some people say they are TDS quality. I think that's debatable, but I can easily argue it both ways. The other lands don't come close to measuring up. Fantasyland ... well, let's wait. Why don't we start with the good, the bad and the ugly (or strange or weird or bizarre)?