In celebration of the all-new film by Walt Disney Animation Studios — Raya and the Last Dragon — and Southeast Asian culture, a larger-than-life work of art is now on display at the Downtown Disney District at Disneyland Resort in Southern California.
Disney shared today — Friday, March 5, the same day that Raya and the Last Dragon hit theaters and Disney+ Premier Access — that the art installation is available for a magical photo opportunity for Downtown Disney Guests to enjoy.
Disney Imagineer Xiao Qing Chen, who was born and raised in Malaysia, designed the artwork, which is also available for purchase at the recently reopened WonderGround Gallery at the Downtown Disney District. The art features several Guest-favorite characters from the film: Raya, Boun, Tong, Noi, the Ongis, Tuk Tuk, and, of course, Sisu, the last dragon.
Chen shared additional details with Kevin Rafferty, Jr., of Walt Disney Imagineering. You can read the full Q&A below for more information about the artwork celebrating the characters and cultures of Raya and the Last Dragon, a movie that stars the first Southeast Asian Disney Princess.
Q. How did Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon inspire the design of this artwork?
A. I love seeing how Raya, Sisu and the crew come together from different lands for a common quest. With all of their differences, each brings their own unique strength to the table. They choose to be vulnerable with one another, offering support and trust when needed during challenging times.
Q. What is the idea behind the piece?
A. The idea started with my hope for a world where we choose to celebrate differences. As long as we see unfamiliar people as outsiders, we will always live in indifference. This piece is about mutual respect and acceptance.
Q. Did your heritage influence the design?
A.Absolutely. This piece is loosely inspired by the art of Batik, the design of fabric using hot wax, dyes and stamps, commonly used in the Southeast Asian region. The linework in this piece depicts traditional hot wax techniques that isolate areas for vibrant colors. With variations in line weight and touches of imperfections, I hope to evoke the sense of a handmade textile, connecting the characters as a harmonious unit and encouraging us to accept each other’s imperfections.
Q. How does it feel to debut the artwork during Women’s History Month?
A.I am flattered and honored to have the chance to debut this piece during Women’s History Month. I am extremely thankful for the women who have lifted me this far in life, and for the global community that continues to challenge stereotypes and break barriers. I hope to contribute even a little in paving a wider road and opening more doors for future generations. Today and every day, we continue to work towards a more inclusive and empowered world.
Q. What do you hope guests take away from this artwork?
A. I hope it helps everyone choose to embrace differences. I believe if we are willing to take the first step to drop judgements and trust and learn about those around us, we will come together to create a more compassionate future.
As mentioned, Imagineer who designed the art — Xiao Qing Chen — was born and raised in Malaysia, so she was able to bring her own cultural perspective to this artwork inspired by Raya and the Last Dragon. In her two years at Walt Disney Imagineering, she has contributed to several magical projects at Disney Parks around the world.
“[Qing] has done conceptual work for the Castle of Magical Dreams at Hong Kong Disneyland, graphics work on the Incredicoaster at Disney California Adventure Park, and for the new Disney Cruise Line ships. Currently, Qing is working on designs for the Fantasy Springs expansion at Tokyo DisneySea and Journey of Water at EPCOT in Walt Disney World,” Walt Disney Imagineering shared with Inside the Magic.
Currently, the Downtown Disney District is free for all Guests who want to visit the shopping and dining district of the Disneyland Resort. Soon, Buena Vista Street will close for all Guests in preparation for the opening of the all-new event coming to Disney California Adventure Park (note that California theme parks are not open). Still, anyone who wants to see this Raya and the Last Dragon art installation and take a photo near the wall can do so for free at Downtown Disney.
Prior to this art installation, this wall at the Downtown Disney District (located on the side of the former ESPN Zone building across from security near the Disneyland Hotel) displayed an art installation in honor of Chadwick Boseman. You can read more about that here.
As Disney continues to make strides toward representation and inclusion at the Disney Parks and Resorts, this beautiful work of art is sure to delight Guests of all ages, and especially those who look up to the characters of the latest animated Disney film.
Disney’s Raya and the Last Dragon is in theaters and on Disney+ Premier Access now. Click here to learn more about the film.