Bursts of red, orange and yellow fill the scene as a new mural commemorates Lunar New Year, the Year of the Tiger, in the Downtown Disney District. As an homage to her Korean heritage, Disneyland Resort cast member Lisa Kang, created the mural with inspiration from traditional works of art known as minwha or “paintings of the people.”
The mural, located at the former ESPN zone, gives a bird’s eye view of the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney’s California Adventure park as dancers parade through the village. Guests will also notice familiar characters and marketplace booths including Tigger, who will help ring in the Year of the Tiger. As viewers take in the details, Lisa hopes that they are able to recognize and celebrate what Lunar New Year means to so many cultures.
Memories of spending Lunar New Year with her family fueled Lisa’s vision for the design. Some of her favorite traditions include making dumplings in the morning and the Korean custom of Sebae—bowing to the elders within the family and receiving blessings from them, including an envelope of cash! In Korean culture, many families have their own traditional stamps. When delving into her own family history, Lisa was able to incorporate hers as a hidden detail in the top right corner of her mural.
“To me, the Lunar New Year is a marking of a new beginning and a special time to reconnect with all the beautiful parts of my culture and heritage,” Lisa said. “It’s important to me as a Korean American to celebrate the culture that my parents were raised in. It allows me to honor them and keep our traditions alive.”
As an art director in entertainment, Lisa has worked behind the scenes for the last four years, coordinating the visuals for entertainment projects as the “Disneyland Forever” fireworks spectacular, “Pixar Play Parade,” Oogie Boogie Bash—A Disney Halloween Dance Party and has even worked on shows for Disneyland Paris, Shanghai Disney Resort and Hong Kong Disneyland. She is also involved with COMPASS, a business employee resource group (BERG) that represents and advocates for those of Asian and Pacific Islander American heritage.
“I help create the look and feel of many [of] our Disneyland park productions. There are so many different kinds of exciting work we get to do at the parks; that makes my job so fun,” Lisa shares. But this mural puts her own artwork front and center and is by far her most personal project yet.
When asked how she feels about her artwork being out on display for guests to see, Lisa exclaims, “[It’s] truly special! I’m so used to just being in my own corner working on park projects behind the scenes, and having my name on something like this is wild!”
When guests experience the piece, Lisa hopes that they are able to celebrate the new year and not just survive it! “We’ve been through a lot, and we deserve to celebrate ourselves with good food and flowers. It’s important—especially at a time like this—to actively seek and look for the beauty around us and within us. I hope that when people see this mural, they feel that they’re being celebrated.”
*The Lunar New Year Celebration takes place January 21-February 13 at Disney California Adventure park. Theme park admission and reservation necessary.