Before I get too far into this, I have an entirely different post about our once in a lifetime Disney experience that you can check out by clicking here!! But read on, as well, to hear all about Shanghai Disney Resort!
If any of you know us, and you don’t have to know us well, to understand our love of all things Disney. We love that mouse! So it didn’t take us too long to make our way up to Shanghai to the brand new Disney resort up there! It turned one year old in June. Well this is actually how the decision process went down…
Jamie was having to go up there anyway for work for several days during the week. This trip he would have had to leave on Sunday afternoon, cutting our weekend together short. He asked me if I wanted to go with him on Friday and spend the weekend with him before his work week there. The thing with his job sometimes is that he finds out he is traveling somewhere only a few days before he actually goes, so this time it was less than a week. Of course, I wanted to spend time with him, but traveling on such short notice gives me anxiety. Especially China because Americans need a visa there and the Consulate website was saying it takes 3-4 days for the expedited service, time we didn’t have. So we were going back and forth on it and I was saying “no, I just don’t think we have the time to get my visa”…”I’m nervous”…blah, blah blah. There was a few second silence and he said “you’re telling me you don’t want to go to Shanghai Disney?!” This was a new concept in the conversation and Jamie knew exactly which card to play! Needless to say that very next morning I marched myself down to the Chinese visa office with all my necessary documents to get that visa! It actually only took one day, I was able to pick it up the day after. It might have been the easiest process ever. You can see my tips for getting a Chinese visa as well as other things in my “Tips for Shanghai” here.
Once I got the visa we decided to book the Disneyland Hotel on property (of course), got our park tickets and off we went! We didn’t get to the hotel until after midnight, but being the Mouseketeers that we are, we still woke up at 6 am to make sure we were in line for park opening at 8 am (with a Starbucks run in between, naturally)!!
Even though it’s Disney and international and all that, everything is in Mandarin and everyone speaks Mandarin. There are English guide maps and also English on the signs in the park, but every ride, every show, everything is in Mandarin. Let’s be honest, can you actually remember what the narrator is saying in the Winnie the Pooh Ride? No. You can’t. Because it doesn’t matter what the narrator says, everything is visual. My point is that it doesn’t take away from the experience because it’s in Mandarin. Most of the Cast Members (Disney employees) speak English, although as a second language, so you still need to be patient when explaining what you’re needing. This brings me to my next point…
Y’all…there’s a lot of people in Shanghai and a lot of people at Shanghai Disney. If you are also the kind of person who doesn’t do well in crowded spaces and with little to no personal space, you might want to say a few prayers for patience and skim through The Book of Virtues before coming to this park. There are also not a lot of Westerners at this park, hardly any. So you are wildly outnumbered by locals at the park. Line jumping is very prevalent at this park. Extremely. There is a lot of security there to help manage the crowds and the rule breaking, but they still do it. And in each ride queue, they crowd in there, right on top of you. One girl was so close to me that when she was texting on her phone behind me, she was pulling the hair in my ponytail with each letter. Honestly, you’re just going to have to let it go and let it happen. You both speak 2 different languages. If you try and confront them about line jumping or crowding your space, you’re going to have a hard time stating your case. It’s not worth it. You just have to have patience and be happy you’re there.
The queue for the park opening was quite different than what we are used to at Walt Disney World and Disneyland California. First of all, when I woke up at 6 am, to the Mickey Mouse March song as my alarm, I looked out the window and there was already people in mass, it seemed, getting in the queue. Oh yes, we had a park view room! Could see that big, glorious Storybook Castle from our room!
When we got in the queue for entry into the park, you’re just in these corals waiting to get both through the security thing and then the ticket turnstile after that.
HIGHLY RECOMMEND buying your tickets online beforehand, if you’re staying on property!! We got them at our hotel as they were also our room key. If you stay off property, and I wouldn’t recommend it here, you can still buy online, but you would still have to go to the ticket counters BEFORE you get in the park opening queue I am talking about. If you are the kind of person who wants to be the first one in (aka me and my sis-in-law), you won’t get that opportunity here. We got in the queue around 7:30 for an 8 am opening and we didn’t get through the ticket turnstile until about 8:20, fully in the park about 8:30.
Once Inside the Park
Usually I would say go get your FastPasses right away, and that was our plan. For those in the back of the class, FastPasses are tickets you can get for certain rides, with a time printed on it to come back for a shorter wait for that ride. They issue a certain amount per hour of the day and when they run out, they run out. Some of the more popular rides may run out of FastPasses before noon! And this is true at any Disney park. If you still don’t think you’ve got it, here is Shanghai Disney’s explanation of how a basic FastPass works. Don’t worry. How FastPasses work has and will befuddle the best of us, you’re not the only one, but it’s simple and really a great thing Disney does. (One thing to note, Walt Disney World in Florida has a completely different, new and better system called FastPass+, just FYI). At Shanghai Disney, there are a couple of FastPass kiosk centers in each land (Adventureland, Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, etc). At 8:30 am the line JUST TO GET A FASTPASS looked like this:
So it was impossible to get a FastPass for anything at that time. We just went and got in line for something that had the shortest wait, which was the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, and decided to figure it out as we went along. Shanghai Disney has an app that has accurate wait times and other info on it and that was very helpful. Download it if you go. Later in the morning we were able to get a FastPass for the TRON ride in Tomorrowland which told us to come back at 1:30 in the afternoon, so that worked out. (I will tell you about all the rides we did in a minute). Several of the rides are similar, if not exactly the same as their mate in The States. We opted not to do those during peak hours since we have technically already ridden them. We focused our time on the rides specific to Shanghai or somehow different to the ones we have done in The States.
How We Spent the Day
Honestly, we just took it slow. The park is pretty small, compared to the others, so we were able to kind of mosey around. We rode everything we wanted to, even rode Pirates twice! We took advantage of times people were watching the parade and the fireworks show and went to the more popular rides while they had shorter lines. We took a break in the afternoon and went back for a shower and nap (major perk of staying on property). We had dinner at our hotel restaurant called “Aurora” which had a table that overlooked the park. It was really nice. We even got some wine from a vineyard that Walt Disney’s daughter owns!
OK, here are our experiences with the “Shanghai specific” rides:
Pirates of the Caribbean: whoa! That’s all I have to say. If you have ridden the ride at either park in The States, you’ll know it’s just a slow moving boat ride through the lovable scenes of pirate life. In recent years they’ve updated those to include Jack Sparrow and other movie things, but the Shanghai one was based on the MOVIE, not the other way around like in The States. It. Was. So. Good. It was still the old slow moving boat, but the scenes and live action fighting was so awesome! It made you feel like you were really there! If you want, YouTube it so you can see what I am talking about. It was my favorite ride in the park.
TRON: We thought this ride was going to be like the TRON ride at EPCOT (formerly Test Track), but it wasn’t at all! It was a proper high speed rollercoaster! And you’re strapped in like you would be riding those bikes on the movie! Haha! It was weird, but so fun! Look at our ride picture:
Soaring: In The States this ride is called “Soarin'” and originated in California. Over there it shows scenes of places in the US, but at Shanghai it shows famous places in the world like Mount Everest, The Great Wall, Egypt, African bush, etc. And it has smells that would remind you of each place every time a new scene comes up. It was really well done.
Other than that, the other rides we had done before. We did do the Peter Pan ride because that’s a family favorite, but it was exactly like the one in The States, just in Mandarin. I rode all the rides in the park on our second day back which you can read about here (best day ever). Also, we got to watch the parade and the fireworks show on the second day. That castle is something spectacular. It is the biggest of all the parks. At first you’re like “it seems as big as Cinderella’s in Disney World” but then you get closer and walk around it and it is massive! Just massive. It’s called “Storybook Castle” and has a Snow White theme on the inside. You can walk through it and through the story of Snow White and there is also a restaurant in there.
We really had a great time. It was hot. If you go in the summer expect heat indexes to be 120 degrees (F). No joke. It was hot. But we really enjoyed it. It was a great, impromptu trip to Disney! If you decide to go, really do your research on getting around Shanghai and check your impatience at the door. Easy going kindness will make your trip much more enjoyable here. Feel free to send me emails/Facebook messages with questions and read my tips. Happy to help! I’ve put some pictures below of the rest of Shanghai Disney. Don’t forget to read about our once in a lifetime Disney experience!
TTFN – Ta Ta For Now!