I was so excited to be finally heading to Shanghai Disneyland that I woke up every hour on the hour during the night panicking that I’d overslept before falling back asleep again. I finally got out of bed around 6:00am in the morning to start getting ready for the day ahead. With some trepidation, I opened the curtains and breathed a sigh of relief when I saw a perfect morning with clear blue skies outside – hopefully it would stay like that for the rest of the day and not rain like had been forecast.
I left my hotel just before 7:30am and caught the Line 8 Metro from People’s Square station to Oriental Sports Center where I changed to Line 11 to Disney Resort. I used the Shanghai Public Transportation Card that I had purchased the day before and my fare cost 6RMB and the journey took just over forty five minutes.
Once I’d left the Metro Station I along with everyone else from the train headed towards the park entrance and I was able to get a photo of the Steamboat Mickey fountain with blue sky behind it – something I had not thought possible the day before.
After going through security which only had a short line, I joined the queue to enter the park. The line was not too long but was incredibly slow. There seemed to be a hold up with a group of people at the front who looked like they had bought some dodgy tickets from somewhere and could not get in. They would not move out of the way either but eventually everyone managed to squeeze around them whilst they continued to block the way.
My ticket for the day cost 499RMB (£54) and I had purchased it online over a month beforehand so all I needed to do was show my passport to enter. They enter your passport number into the computer, take your photo and your ticket pops out of the turnstile. I was inside the park just before 9:00am which was the official opening time. If I’d known that they started letting people in much earlier then I would have got there earlier too.
And in that moment, I could once again say that I had been to every Disney park in the world – something I had been unable to say for the previous week!
I never usually visit any Disney park with a plan of what I’m going to do however this day was very different. I was expecting it to be incredibly busy so I had been studying trip reports and blogs online to try and decide what to do first. As soon as I was in the park, I walked quickly straight to the Fastpass area in Adventure Isle to pick up a Fastpass for Soaring Over the Horizon. There was a long line but it was very organised and moved very quickly and less than five minutes later, I had a Fastpass for later that afternoon. One thing to note is that I had read several blogs online mention that the Fastpasses in Shanghai Disneyland were all written in Mandarin. However if you use the English button on the machine as I did, then your Fastpass will be in English.
I then walked very quickly to Treasure Cove as I was absolutely desperate to ride Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle For the Sunken Treasure as soon as possible. It was showing a fifteen minute line which I could not believe as I was expecting much more. There are two lines and I was advised by the American Cast Member at the entrance to take the opposite one to everyone else as it would be much quicker. There are so many details in the queue line that I barely noticed the small wait and about ten minutes later, I was in the loading station and boarded my boat.
Everything you have heard about the Shanghai version of Pirates of the Caribbean is true. It is an incredible ride and even though I had watched videos of the ride on YouTube beforehand, I was blown away by it. The effects are amazing and it has now ruined every other Pirates ride in the world for me as they simply can not match the Shanghai version. When exiting the ride, I was handed a certificate to say I was one of the first guests to experience it – they had handed these certificates out on opening day so I could not believe that I was given one as well.
Once I got outside I looked back at the ride entrance and it was showing a five minute line. So what else was there to do apart from go on it again and I walked straight onto the ride with no wait. How was this possible? I was hoping to maybe get on the ride once that day and here I was riding it twice within forty minutes of the park opening.
At this point I decided to have a look around the Gardens of Imagination before doing any more rides and take a few minutes out just to sit down, take everything in and enjoy the view of the Enchanted Storybook Castle. The whole area is beautiful, peaceful and so spacious. Even though I was in the middle of Shanghai Disneyland, it felt incredibly quiet which is one benefit of the park being as big as it is. It never felt crowded the whole day I was there which is the complete opposite to what I was expecting.
I also used this time to post a photo to Facebook. If you have never been to China then you might not be aware that a lot of websites are not accessible whilst you are there – Facebook, Twitter, Google, Instagram to name only a few. The only way to access them is to use a VPN service which I did. I also paid £5 for the day to use my UK data plan on my iPhone which was money well spent in my opinion. There is free wifi in Shanghai Disneyland but when I visited, it was not available if you did not have a Chinese mobile number – though it has since changed and can now be used by international visitors. I also took a powerbank to the park with me as well to be able to keep my iPhone charged throughout the day.
On my way to Fantasyland, I walked through the Garden of Twelve Friends where each of the symbols of the Chinese zodiac are represented by a mosaic of a Disney character – it’s a great place for photos.
Going on most of the rides in Fantasyland that day had never been part of my original plan especially if I had already been on them in other parks – my plan was to do things I could not do in any other park. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was showing a sixty minute wait however I saw that there was a single rider line. There was no wait as I boarded the ride less than a minute after I entered the loading area. The ride is exactly the same as the one in Magic Kingdom apart from the ending where you see the cottage in the distance and Dopey popping up from inside a tree trunk.
In the corner of Fantasyland is the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh which was showing a five minute wait – normally I would never bother with this ride but with no wait, of course I was going to ride it. The Hunny Pot Spin (there are no teacups in Shanghai) was next door but I did not ride as they can give me motion sickness and that was the last thing I wanted that day.
I continued to walk to Tomorrowland where my next job was to get a Fastpass to ride Tron Lightcycle Power Run. I had some time to kill before I could collect it so I decided to go on Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue in the meantime which was showing a ten minute wait. Once again, I walked straight onto the ride. I loved this version of the ride – the graphics were amazing and the targets were a lot easier to hit as you could see where your laser gun was pointing.
After exiting the ride, I collected my Fastpass to ride Tron later in the day. I could breathe a sigh of relief as I now had Fastpasses for two of the attractions that I wanted to ride the most.
Walking back through Fantasyland I saw that Peter Pan’s Flight had no line (when does that ever happen?!) and after exiting the ride, I bumped into a very lonely Captain Hook!
It was now 11:15am and after going on five rides and collecting the two Fastpasses I wanted, it was definitely time for food as I was starving and the cereal bar that I had brought with me for breakfast had barely touched the sides. Finding vegetarian food in China is not always the easiest thing however from researching online I was looking forward to visiting the Pinocchio Village Kitchen after seeing a photo of the most amazing looking pizza.
My Mickey-shaped Tomato and Mozzarella Pizza cost me 85RMB including a drink and it was absolutely delicious especially with the added balsamic dressing. The seating areas in all the restaurants are huge so I had no problem finding a quiet spot to eat and work out my plan for the rest of the day.
The next attraction I really wanted to go on was Voyage to the Crystal Grotto which is located behind the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Fantasyland however the ride was closed when I got there. This was the only time the whole day that I encountered any language difficulties as all I wanted to know was whether the ride was just down temporarily or closed for the whole day and between their little English and my near non-existent Mandarin, it was difficult to find out. On that note, all the Cast Members at Shanghai Disneyland were absolutely amazing and very friendly and helpful. I was greeted with a wave and a smile and a hello or goodbye every time I walked in and out of a shop, restaurant or a ride – they were all so happy making for a wonderful atmosphere everywhere.
I decided to have a look around the beautiful Enchanted Storybook Castle. It’s huge and I think it could definitely be my favourite of all the castles. There is a walkthrough attraction inside the castle called Once Upon a Time however there was quite a long line so I decided to leave that for my next visit. Looking up inside the castle is an incredible sight – I could not stop taking photos!
After leaving the castle I noticed that they were testing some of the boats at Voyage to the Crystal Grotto so I decided to hang around the entrance just in case it did open and thankfully a few minutes later it did. The ride takes you past scenes and fountains from Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Tangled, Mulan and the Little Mermaid before travelling underneath the castle to the grotto itself. It was a cute little attraction and I would love to ride it again at night as I imagine it looks incredible all lit up.
At the exit of Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is a great photo spot of the castle as well as a lot of hidden Disney details including Whale Repellant, the boat from Tangled with a wanted poster of Flynn Rider and a Poison Apple recipe book.
It was ten minutes before the Mickey’s Storybook Express parade was due to start and as the Gardens of Imagination area was so quiet, I used this time to get some photos of the Partners Statue and the park dedication – it was great seeing it and it made me smile as the date on it was exactly a week before.
My confusion with how quiet it was only a week after the Grand Opening continued as there was no one waiting along the parade route – it was so bizarre! The next photo was taken only a few minutes before the parade started and there are more Cast Members than guests in sight. How was this possible?! It was hot and the sun was strong whilst waiting for the parade to turn up so I took the advice of one of the American Cast Members that I had talked to the day before in World of Disney who said she relied on using an umbrella to shade yourself from the sun and to help stay cool and it definitely worked. I can now understand why you see everyone in Asia doing the same thing!
Mickey’s Storybook Express was a great little parade with a very catchy song. I didn’t take too many photos as I just wanted to enjoy watching it. I’m still not used to seeing Mickey with his new look but I guess we’ll get used to it soon.
As I still had thirty minutes before the time on my Soaring Over the Horizon Fastpass started, I spent a little time going back to the park entrance to look at everything that I had missed earlier as I had been rushing to get that Fastpass. This was definitely the best time to do this as again it was so quiet which allowed me to get all the photos I wanted with hardly anyone in sight.
Instead of Main Street USA, Shanghai Disneyland has Mickey Avenue. Mickey Avenue is a neighbourhood filled with shops and restaurants and the hometown of Mickey and Friends. The level of detail here is like nothing else I’ve ever seen and I could have happily spent a few hours here alone! I actually ended up preferring Mickey Avenue to Main Street USA as it was just so colourful and so much fun.
Pluto was out meeting people at the entrance of Mickey Avenue and I would have expected a huge line to meet him however there was only two people waiting. I managed to get a great photo of him with the castle in the background but didn’t have my photo taken with him as due to the humidty, I was a sweaty mess!
There were no lines either to meet either Minnie or Goofy who were also both out meeting people in Mickey Avenue. I did not meet Mickey on this day but he has his own meet and greet tent near the Dumbo ride in Gardens of Imagination and when I walked past it earlier in the day, again there was only a short line.
I completely loved that the news stand in Mickey Avenue was “selling” all the newspapers and magazines that are seen in Ratatouille. Again it was details like this that I loved.
However one of my most favourite details and one which I knew to look out for in advance is Donald Duck’s family tree or “Fore-Feathers” which is on display in the Il Paperino ice cream shop.
As it was now time to use my Soaring Over the Horizon Fastpass, I made my way through Adventure Isle. I saw some people rowing a canoe boat however given the humidity I guessing that this would not have been pleasant. The other long line in the park that day was for the Roaring Rapids however I had already decided that I did not want to queue up for it. There is also a ropes course in Camp Discovery in front of Roaring Mountain but again I did not want to do this in the summer heat.
With my Fastpass for Soaring Over the Horizon, I only waited about ten minutes before boarding the ride whereas the normal line at that time was one hour and forty minutes long! I had already heard about the queue line beforehand and looking at all the stars in the “sky” was a beautiful sight whilst waiting.
The only thing I did find bizarre at Soaring Over the Horizon is that the pre-show video is entirely in Mandarin (which I have no problem with) however towards the end of the film, English subtitles appear for all the safety instructions – why not have the subtitles throughout the whole film?
I really enjoyed the new version of Soaring however as I was sat towards the end of a row, it was funny as due to the angle of the screen, the Eiffel Tower as well as the Shanghai skyscrapers were curved so it looked a little bit silly.
After grabbing a bottle of water, I took a few minutes to look around some of the details in Treasure Cove. Another nice to know for Shanghai Disneyland is there are drinking water fountains everywhere so once you have an empty bottle, you can just keep refilling it all day free of charge.
I arrived at Tron just as my Fastpass time was starting. The standby queue wait at this time was one hour and forty five minutes. There are lockers which are free of charge where you have to leave all your belongings whilst you ride – and again there is an English button on the screen. You can however take your phone with you (which I did to take some photos of the queue line) as there is a small compartment on your Lightcycle where you can stow it safely whilst on the ride.
Seeing the Lightcycles launch from the queue line helped to build up the excitement for the ride even more and before I knew it, it was my turn to ride. It seems strange at first to be on a roller coaster whilst sitting on a “bike” and leaning forward but I loved it. The only thing that would have made it better was to ride it at night to see the full lighting effects in the outdoor section of the ride. Also when I exited Tron, I was handed another Grand Opening first rider certificate.
At this point I was starting to flag from both tiredness and the humidity. I decided to head out of the park and into Disneytown and grab myself a coffee from Starbucks. There were no seats left inside Starbucks so I sat outside in the shade and just watched the world go by for a while. It was about 5:00pm at this point and there were so many tour groups leaving the park – I’m not sure where they had been during the day as I had not seen them at all. Maybe they went to all the shows as it was not my priority to see any of them on this visit.
I decided to go back to the Cheesecake Factory for something to eat as up until this point, I had only eaten a small pizza and a cereal bar all day. Sitting inside with their freezing cold air conditioning felt heavenly. As it had been so good the day before, I ordered the Crab and Artichoke Dip again.
After another quick trip to the World of Disney store, I was ready for the last few hours back in the park. On my way back in, I was handed a little pack containing a Grand Opening Postcard and Badge.
I spent some time looking around the shops of Mickey Avenue before heading back to Treasure Cove for another few rides on Pirates of the Caribbean where there was no wait. I could not get enough of this ride and it will definitely be my first stop on my next visit. This was also the only time I saw any litter in the park the whole day when there was a few wet park maps on the floor of the boat.
After some more time just wandering around, I headed back to Tomorrowland to see if they had opened the Single Rider line for Tron as I wanted to ride it again when it got dark. They sadly had not and the standby queue was over an hour so I decided to go on Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue again which had no wait.
Tomorrowland at night is absolutely beautiful. I could have stood there for ages just watching Tron change colour!
The Ignite the Dream fireworks were due to start at 8:30pm however I had hit the tiredness wall again pretty hard and I was shattered – according to my iPhone I walked just under fifteen miles that day. After thinking about it, the thought of being tired and being on a packed Metro train without a seat after park closing was too much (I have done that many times leaving Hong Kong Disneyland) so I decided to leave the park early before the fireworks and get a head start on everyone. I wasn’t sad at my decision as I already knew that I will be heading back to the park very soon and can see Ignite the Dream then instead.
Just as I was leaving the park I remembered that the day before I had wanted to go back to Disneytown when it was dark to see both the Starbucks cup decorations and the giant Vinylmation statues lit up. I made a quick detour to see them and it was completely worth it.
Thanks to my quick detour to Disneytown, I was able to see the start of the Ignite the Dream fireworks as I was walking back towards the Metro station. It made me laugh at how many locals were standing at the park entrance to watch the fireworks – it is a good view though! I was lucky enough that there was already a Metro in the station so I did not have to wait and I was able to get a seat on both trains on the way back to People’s Square.
My day could not have gone any better than it did especially as it never rained as originally forecast. I also could not believe how much I actually got done considering I thought it would be crazy busy and I might get two or three rides done all day. I had originally feared that Shanghai Disneyland was never going to live up to the expectations that I had built up but thankfully I was completely blown away by the whole experience. The detail and care that has gone into the park is like nothing else I’ve ever seen and I fell completely in love with the resort and still cannot stop talking about it nearly two months later!
Also please ignore the press on their over the top reporting of bad guest behaviour – I did not see anything bad in either of my two days at the resort and I tend to notice everything. There’s always going to be some isolated incidents no matter where you go in the world but that does not create the sensationalist headlines that they want to publish. So go with a completely open mind and enjoy every minute.
Roll on my next visit – I cannot wait!