Disney Debuts New Character Experience Featuring the Star of ‘Turning Red’

Disney and Pixar’s Turning Red (2022) debuted on Disney+ last year to somewhat mixed audience reviews (but critical success) as fans watched 13-year-old Mei Lee’s relationship with her mother unfold onscreen.

The film offers a nostalgic look back at becoming a teenager in the early 2000s and arguably the most awkward years in the main character’s life. And while it did not get the theatrical release its creators may have been hoping for, it has since garnered a following with fans interested in the film’s story and specifically several elements of the movie like the fictional boyband 4*TOWN and the potential Turning Red could have for experiences in Disney Parks.

Turning Red

Credit Disney Pixar

RELATED: You’d Never Guess That This Is The Most Popular Title Streaming on Disney+

Turning Red has countless possibilities for how it could be included in Disney Parks, but until recently the film has only been portrayed outside of Disney+ in merchandise and through limited-time special events at Disney California Adventure and in the Canada Pavilion in World Showcase in EPCOT.

(For what it’s worth, though, devoted fans of the film have been quite vocal on social media that elements of the film would be a nice regular addition to the Canada Pavilion, where the story takes place in Toronto.) Moreover, the pavilion has a Circle-Vision theatre that would be somewhat easy to update with a new film, and space for a character meet and greet or temporary snack kiosk, similar to how Encanto (2021) has served as the inspiration for food items at some of EPCOT’s Festivals.

This week, however, one Disney Park finally debuted a new Turning Red experience featuring Red Panda Mei as a walkaround character for the first time. Guests at Shanghai Disneyland were greeted by the character on March 9, 2023, when she made an appearance alongside some of the Park’s performers in front of Enchanted Storybook Castle:

Disney has not yet confirmed whether Red Panda Mei will be a permanent staple at Shanghai Disneyland or if the character will be expanded to other theme parks or Resorts.

For now, most Turning Red experiences stateside come in the form of merchandise which can be found rather sporadically at the Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort or on, where plushes of Red Panda Mei have been quite popular. On the merchandise side, Disney also recently introduced a new Meilin Lee pin exclusive for D23 Members, so we may at least continue to see new merchandise from the film pop up in the Parks.

Turning Red Mei and Red Panda Mei

Credit: DisneyBe sure to keep an eye out for Red Panda Mei if you happen to have a trip to Shanghai Disneyland in your future. And as always, we will continue to share updates on Disney Parks and Resorts, and any future news on Turning Red in the theme parks, here on Disney Tips.

About Brittany DiCologero

Brittany is a New England-based writer focused on the history of the Walt Disney World Resort. She is the author of "Red, White, and Disney: The Myths and Reality of American History at the Walt Disney World Resort," and "Brittany Earns Her Ears."