With the Shanghai Disney Resort opening in June 2016, there was an urgent need to have the official app released prior to the grand opening date. Similar to the Disneyland App, the Shanghai Disney Resort App allows guests to buy tickets, see wait times, browse interactive maps, view entertainment schedules and much more.

Disclaimer: As a promise to my friends Mickey & Donald, I've intentionally left out many details on this project.

My role

Interaction design, stakeholder presentation, documentation, tech hand-off.

The challenge

This was my first project after I started working at Disney. The Shanghai Disney App took the existing Disneyland App as a base platform, topped with a handful of new features to support Shanghai’s specific requirements. This required me to quickly achieve a deep understanding of Disney’s design structure, style guidelines, conventions and constraints. It was also exciting to start my Disney journey being part of the launch of an app on a new market overseas.

Take a deep dive in culture

We all know the localization of an app is not about hitting the Google Translate button and call it done. Many design decisions can be influenced greatly by cultural nuances. The differences could be as subtle as putting the last name first and first name last; or as substantial as using mobile number as the default login method, email as secondary.

Account for government regulations

Shortly after our initial launch, a new Chinese government regulation mandates that all app users to verify their mobile numbers in their account. So, we created new flows that accommodate SMS verifications under various scenarios.

Streamline the payment process

China’s mobile users have a very high inclination to make purchases on mobile phones. In just about every corner in a major city like Shanghai, mobile users put Alipay and Wechat Pay—the two leading smartphone payments—in front of cash payments. We tested the payment flow under a variety of use cases to make sure it works as seamlessly as other China’s leading native apps.

Final thoughts

As my first Disney project, the Shanghai Disney App was very helpful getting me up to speed with the design language at Disney. In its first year, Shanghai Disney Resort has had over 11 million visitors. The thought of being a small part in bringing the Disney magic faraway overseas, is very rewarding.