Internet culture builds “Disney” in Chengdu

Since late March, the hashtag #成都迪士尼# (Chengdu Disney) has appeared several times on China’s internet. With two Disneyland parks in China, located in Shanghai and Hong Kong, “Chengdu Disney” actually refers to a fitness facility in a residential area of Chengdu’s Wuhou District, equipped with nothing more than one exercise machine. The unexpected connection to Disney arose when a music video by the not-so-famous rapper, Lodmemo (诺米么), was filmed there and went viral on 25 March. In the song, the lyric “Xie Di, Xie Di, I’m going to diss you” is repeated, sounding similar to “Xie Di Xie Di I want Disney” in Chinese pronunciation.

This unlikely phenomenon has drawn significant attention, akin to Harbin during the Spring Festival and Zibo as a hot barbecue destination, attracting a stream of tourists to Chengdu during the Qingming holiday. The central figure, rapper Lodmemo from Daliangshan, wrote the song directed at his mentor Xie Di from “The Rap of China”, who denied his advancement. As the meme gained popularity, numerous netizens flocked to Chengdu to mimic Lodmemo’s acts and lyrics, recording videos and sharing them across social media platforms like Douyin (China’s version of TikTok), Xiaohongshu (RED) and Weibo (China’s Twitter-like platform), which made the venue “Chengdu Disney” popular.

Within a week, the hashtag #Chengdu Disney# received 120 million views on Weibo, while Lodmemo’s Douyin followers surged to 2.2 million. Offline, enthusiasts began dressing as Mickey and Minnie, merchants made peripherals for sale, and “Disney Princesses” greeted visitors at the entrance.

However, the influx of visitors has disrupted the lives of nearby residents, prompting complaints about noise. Ms Yang, a resident living within 50 metres of the exercise machine, remarked positively on the song but expressed bewilderment at the check-in frenzy. Following numerous complaints, public management, volunteers, and police stepped in to restore order in the district after 5 April.

The event’s popularity can be attributed to hip hop culture which is popular in China, with Lodmemo’s grassroots origins resonating with many netizens. Additionally, the pun culture behind the meme, exemplified by Chengdu’s Hema supermarket, which named their king crab “Crab Emperor” (pronounced the same as Xie di), adds to the fun. The timing of the Qingming holiday further facilitated netizens’ participation in discussions and visits to “Chengdu Disney.”


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