Trip Report: Shanghai Disneyland

Edited: June 19, 2016, 9:33 AM ·

My wife and I were fortunate enough to make it out to Shanghai for the Grand Opening, on both the 16th and 17th, with a night at the Toy Story Hotel in between. There has already been a lot posted, including videos, and a great First Impression by Renata Primavera, which you should definitely check out!

http://www.themeparkinsider.com/flume/201606/5121/

I'm going to hit the highlights and some low lights, and then stick around to reply if anyone has questions. :)

First things first - registered guests ARE guaranteed park ticket availability. I had confirmed it via their online chat several weeks earlier, but was still a little nervous because of first day hiccups or other misunderstandings that could arise with an event this large. In the end, it was not a problem.

Bus service from the Toy Story Hotel to the Disneyland park was a breeze. The buses aren't packed like sardines as they tend to be in Orlando, though the drop-off area is a little farther from the entrance than I'd have liked.

Even arriving at the park at 12:15, the line for security/bag check was LONG. It took 45 minutes. To the far left, they have electronic body scans, and a conveyor belt x-ray machine. All others are manual, as they are in other Disney parks. Waiting wasn't a problem, but it was frustrating that they didn't have much in the way of security or cast members to keep the lines orderly. Line cutting was rampant. A small child in the row next to me peed in a water bottle, which was a lovely thing to see before even entering the park. Then again, better in a bottle than on the ground, eh?

Once past security, it took almost 90 minutes to get into the park itself. I can only imagine how many problems they had, as they used computers to scan China ID cards - or in my case, the QC code on the back of our hotel rom key/park ticket.

toystoryhotelcard

Once inside the park, you're greeted by the familiar train station + Mickey flower face.

wifeandi

You can't go wrong with that photo op!

Not seeing Main Street on the other side was pretty jarring, and I was afraid I wouldn't see those amazing buildings that always bring a smile to my face the moment I walk into one of the Magic Kingdom-style parks. Alas, my fear was misplaced. It isn't the same, but it is similar enough, and I breathed a big sigh of relief.

mickeystreetpano

The castle is MASSIVE. Especially considering the only park I've been to in the last 18 months was Hong Kong Disneyland, whose castle is TEENY TINY! Initially, when I saw photos of this one, I called it Franken-castle. I thought it was huge and hulking and not all that elegant. I'm happy to report that it is quite beautiful, and not a copy of another park, as Hong Kong and Anaheim are very similar. A photo here is a photo that won't be mistaken for anywhere else in the world!

As Disney regulars, we know the sun rises in the east and sets in the west. Tomorrowland is on the right, and Adventureland is on the left. Right? Wrong! Not here, anyway. Being that Adventure Isle is where the huge waterfall mountain is, I went that way because it's gorgeous. It's enormous. It's otherworldly. It's as beautiful a structure as I've seen.

waterfallmountain

Now, as we didn't enter the park until after 2pm, all said and done, I had two attractions on my MuST-DO list. Pirates of the Carribbean and Tron. Thankfully, I was able to cross them off my list.

Not enough things can be said about Pirates of the Carribbean here in Shanghai. Holy Cow! I'm not going to describe it, but if you've seen the video, you still have no idea. None. It is crazy amazing, and the Pirates theme music is STILL in my head. After the ride, we were given certificates, as the first guests to ride. Pretty cool.

piratesfirst

The wait time was only 40 minutes, as each boat/raft holds 30 people (six rows of five), and there are a lot of boats. See? It’s not how popular a ride is. It’s the ride’s capacity.

As for Tron, it was a 75 minute wait, and after having waited so long, I requested that we get a first row seat. After all, I’d like to see everything, and not have a view of another light cycle. For me, it was fun, but I had to strain a little to keep my head up. The outside portion of the ride is in the beginning, so it doesn’t really disrupt the feel of being in the Tron computer, and near the end, as you’re racing the evil Orange team, you see them explode. It was pretty cool, though I don’t recall seeing them earlier, nor the yellow or red teams. They could have made it more immersive, and with the whole sportbike riding position, I think this could have been a prime attraction for an inversion or two – a la Rockin Roller Coaster. Alas, no inversions.

Pro Tip – I watched Mickey’s Storybook parade in Tomorrowland, and when I turned around to face the Tron area, it was completely empty. This is prime time to avoid a large portion of the lines!

The only other ride we partook in on opening day was Buzz Lightyear’s Blasters, which I thought was okay. I’m not into this kind of ride, so I didn’t even shoot my gun. I had a big whopping score of ZERO. It wasn’t as bad I was expecting, with the whole techno/steampunk look. The bad guys were just orange/blue/yellow robots. Again, it’s not my kind of ride.

Random rememberance - in the Mens bathrooms, there are usually 5 stalls. One is handicapped, one is Western-style (it has a picture on the door), and the other three are "squatty potties". If you're a fan of Shark Tank, you'll know these are actually healthier (and cleaner, in this case). All the same, if you're not used to this type of situation, just wait. I wouldn't say I'm used to it, but it isn't shocking, being that I actually live here.

Additionally, I was looking for a good Shanghai Disneyland shirt, and came away unimpressed. I really didn’t see anything that caught my eye. The only Opening Day shirt I could find was a white one with black text, including the date. Really boring, and they didn’t have my size of M. That’s M for Mickey, you know. :P Every time I saw an Opening Day shirt worn by another guest, I felt they were rather uninspired, and I could find something better to spend my money on.

We both had “theme park feet”, and my body was sore, so we decided to head to the hotel. It was pretty cool to be the first guests to stay in the hotel! The room was pretty fun looking. Nice prints of Toy Story characters, and the next morning, when we were leaving, the elevator had audio. The little green aliens from Toy Story said “Level Two. The Lobbyyyyyy.”. Hehe. Cute.

toystoryhotelroom

The park opened at 8am the next day, but I was not in a hurry. The bed was too comfortable, and the park was open until 10pm. Before getting to the gates, we stopped for 30 minutes at Starbucks (next door to World of Disney) and I got my Double Espresso/Dopio. Sadly, they don’t offer mugs with Shanghai Disneyland artwork, as the U.S parks do. I’d have bought one, for sure!

Arriving at around 10am, the bag check was 5 minutes, as compared to 45 the day before. What a relief! It still took about 15 minutes to get into the park, but Day 02 was a breeze compared to Day 01. Much to my chagrin, there were signs posted, saying Roaring Rapids, 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, and….something else were closed for the day. Well darnit! As I’d already done Tron and POC, I was really hoping to do those first two attractions.

I should mention that because we weren’t issued paper tickets (we used our room keys), the Fast Pass system didn’t work for us. We received a message that our tickets hadn’t been used, and therefore, could not get FP. Because of this, before getting into the park, we headed to Guest Relations, where we got two Fast Passes to any attractions we wanted, but only two. No refills. I chose Soaring and 7 Dwarfs Mine Train. Though both are in Orlando, my wife has never been to America, so it would be fun, and both are notorious for having long wait times and/or breaking down, in the case of 7DMT.

As for Soaring….well hot darn! 150 minute wait time! I sure felt like choosing that as one of our Fast Passes was a smart decision! Hehe.

soaring

And as for 7 Dwarfs Mine Train, when we cashed in our FP at around 2pm, the wait time was posted as 120 minutes! Wow! At around 4pm, it was listed as “Temporarily Closed”. Man, I’m glad we were able to do that attraction, even if it’s a bit underwhelming, in my opinion. It’s exactly the same as Orlando, except the ending doesn’t have the witch, or her house. There is a small cottage, but it’s smaller than in Orlando, and set farther back from the mine trains. Oh, and the Dwarfs speak Mandarin.

That’s a good segue to talking about the language. Signs are posted in English and Simplified Chinese (as opposed to Hong Kong, where they post English, Simplified, AND Traditional Chinese), and most pre-show narration and safety audio are in both languages. However, we took in the Frozen, Tarzan, and Pirates shows, and there was no English to be found, including on-screen text – for the Frozen sing-a-long, for example.

Frozen’s 3 main characters, and Pirates’ villain were all Mandarin-speaking Caucasians. The audience definitely noticed, as I saw and heard a lot of whispering. Unfortunately I am not one of those Mandarin-speaking foreigners. I know enough to get by in daily life, but not enough to follow along with these productions, that’s for sure. My wife enjoyed herself, though. ? As it seems did the rest of the Chinese audience.

We checked out the Marvel Meet N Greet. I didn’t draw any characters, nor saw any live costumed characters, but they had Iron Men (probably 5 variations, plus the big one in this photo), the Thor costume, and the Ant Man costume on display. Being a comic book geek, this was really cool to see up close!

marvel

We ate lunch at Barbossa’s, which was really pretty good for a Quick Service joint. The reason it was good, wasn’t necessarily the food, but because of the atmosphere. It reminded me of the Mexico pavilion in that you could watch the boats pass by, and it made you feel as if you were outside in the evening. On Pirates, you pass by the diners before you really get into the fun stuff. It was a nice little treat on both sides.

By the way - this is a Pepsi park. Even has a Pepsi stage for a DJ and dance parties. "Come on get HAPPY!". I personally don't have a preference, but still thought it was noteworthy.

Another thing we did was go through the Wonderland Maze. It was very relaxing, and being so close to the castle, it offered some really great photo opportunities.

sdlcastle

We picked up a few souvenirs from the Grand Opening – a pack of gold playing cards, and two map booklets that included exclusive Grand Opening gold medallions. None of these will be opened, of course.

If your feet are tired, and you want to sit at a nice picnic table in a park-like setting, there are quite a few pocket parks, such as this one, next to 7 Dwarfs Mine Train.

park

Finally, as we’d already watched the fireworks and the special post-fireworks exlclusive show, we felt we’d done enough. We still needed to pick up our suitcases and take the metro to our hotel away from the park, so we didn’t want to be pressed for time.

As we approached the metro station, we were quite disappointed with how industrial and boring it looked. It had no flair, as the Hong Kong Disneyland station has.

subwaystations

Additionally, the train itself is just a regular city train. No Mickey handles, Disney statues, comfortable couches, or Mickey shaped windows.

My big takeaways are that the park is BIG! The castle is BIG. Pirates is AMAZING! The big mountain with the waterfalls is BREATHTAKING! OMG.

My wife’s daughter was stuck in school, taking mandatory exams, and didn’t get to join us, so we WILL be returning. I’ll hopefully share a little about the Disneyland Hotel, Roaring Rapids, Crystal Grotto, and Peter Pan, which I missed.

This park was a blast. They had their opening day hiccups, but I’m rooting for it to succeed and continue to improve and expand.

I can’t wait to go again!

Replies (3)

June 19, 2016, 2:04 AM ·

Sounds great, and maybe even better once the initial rush dies off. I can handle the shows and stuff not being in English, but is it jarring for the rides not to be?

June 19, 2016, 2:36 AM ·

Nah. Pirates is such an amazing feast for the eyes that you don't need to understand what is being said. There's no narration or audio on Tron. I couldn't experience Roaring Rapids, so I can't comment.

It would be the shows more than the rides where the audio is an issue. If you're familiar with Frozen, and can hum along, it's not a problem. Pirates is quite a spectacle, and as it's a show, you can pretty much follow along by way of what you're seeing. The pre-show outside the theatre (but inside the show building) felt like I was missing out, but it was just a goofy comedy sketch of pirates doing pirate-like things. Tarzan didn't need narration or dialog. The only narration was via text on the screens on either the left or right of the stage, but just to advance the plot.

Thankfully, they had a different actor for the young and old Tarzan, so you could see the time elapse through the swapping of actor.

All in all, language was not a problem. :)

June 19, 2016, 3:59 AM ·

I've been waiting for your trip report! I have been a Shanghai doubter, but I actually can't wait to go!

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