1. A Trip to Shanghai Disneytown

    In June this year, I was finally on my way to China to visit Shanghai Disneyland. The only thing that was not looking good was that the weather whilst I was in Shanghai was forecast to be 90% rain and thunderstorms for the whole time I was there. Still I was looking on the bright side and was just excited to be visiting so soon after the Grand Opening the previous week.

    A reminder of the expected weather occurred on approach to Shanghai when our aircraft was struck by lightning. I caught my first glimpse of the park through the clouds just before we landed into a very rainy Shanghai and once inside the airport, I was excited to see so many billboards advertising Shanghai Disneyland on the walk to immigration.

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    Getting through the airport took no time at all and whilst on the drive to my hotel in the city, I could make out the outline of the Enchanted Storybook Castle in the distance on the horizon. In order to fight jetlag and keep myself awake for the rest of the day, I was planning on heading straight to Disneytown to look around, shop and get some dinner. This way I could hopefully get a good night’s sleep before heading back to the park the next day. Once at the hotel I had a shower before getting my bag with all the essentials (namely an umbrella and my camera) ready for the rest of the day.

    To get to Shanghai Disney Resort from my hotel in the city was easy. From People’s Square where I was staying, there were two different Metro routes I could take – one with one change and one with two changes. I asked the hotel concierge which was the better route to take and he said the one with two changes (spoiler: it wasn’t). Once inside People’s Square Metro station next to my hotel, I purchased a Shanghai Public Transportation Card as I plan on visiting Shanghai frequently now that the park is open. The fare from People’s Square to Shanghai Disney Resort is 6RMB which works out to about 60p/90c and the journey takes about forty five minutes.

    From People’s Square I took Line 2 to Longyang Road (where you can take the Maglev to Pudong Airport) and after a long walk and long wait, took Line 16 to Luoshan Road before finally changing to Line 11 to Disney Resort. It was exciting to be able to see the park from the train just before we arrived. The Disney Resort station is beautiful and I loved seeing outlines of the characters everywhere I looked.

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    After leaving the station, it is a short walk to the entrance of the park and Disneytown. It was pouring with rain so I was doing my best to avoid puddles as well as trying to keep my camera lens dry whilst trying to take photos. One good thing was because of the rain, it was very quiet everywhere.

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    Just in front of the entrance to the park is the Steamboat Mickey fountain. It was beautiful but part of me was thinking how it would look so much nicer if there was blue sky behind it instead of grey but the chances of that happening on this trip were close to zero. I loved the little whistle that the steamboat made every few minutes.

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    For some reason, looking through the gate towards the park felt incredibly emotional and surreal. I had been looking forward to Shanghai Disneyland for so long and had closely followed the news and construction of it since it was announced. So to know that I was finally here and would be in the park the next day was an amazing feeling.

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    Disneytown is located right next to the park so thankfully there are no long walks or additional transport involved in getting between the two. You could look across to the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel which is located on the other side of Wishing Star Lake.

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    As I had not slept properly since leaving London, I was already feeling incredibly tired so coffee was called for. Thankfully I was right by Starbucks so within no time I was refuelling with a strong latte in hand. I adored the Starbucks mug decorations they had outside and made a mental note to remember to come back that day or the next when it was dark to see them all lit up,

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    After leaving Starbucks, the rain had finally stopped outside and the cloud had started to break up. Being able to walk around without clinging hold of my umbrella was great. I decided it was time to explore Disneytown which was much bigger than I thought it would be.

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    Disneytown is home to the world’s largest Lego store. I loved their displays including a giant Snow White made of Lego but the prices were a lot more expensive than in the UK or USA.

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    There are plenty of shops in Disneytown though there did not seem to be anyone in them. Not sure if they were this quiet normally or whether it was just because it was a weekday with bad weather earlier in the day. There is also a Mandarin version of The Lion King performed at the Walt Disney Grand Theatre.

    Everything was immaculate wherever I looked. Contrary to news reports, there was no litter anywhere, no graffiti, the toilets were very clean and I did not see anyone taking a dump in any of the flowerbeds.

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    I also found these giant colourful Vinylmations and made another mental note to come back when it was dark to see them all lit up.

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    There are Disney details everywhere including this amazing Aristocats poster which can be found next to the Samsonite store.

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    Once I’d walked a loop of Disneytown blue skies had appeared which I simply could not believe given the weather forecast and the rain earlier in the day. I started to get hopeful that the rain would hold off the following day too.

    I visited the incredibly pretty Spoonful of Sugar shop to buy some Shanghai Disney exclusive Hi-Chews before heading into the World of Disney to start some serious shopping. I got the character mugs that I wanted as well as some Grand Opening merchandise for myself and my friends. The only thing that I could not get were any of the Grand Opening pins which had sold out almost immediately. I also found out the following day that there are fitting rooms available if you want to try any of the clothes before you buy them.

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    As I was feeling hungry a trip to the Cheesecake Factory was definitely in order. The menu is not as big as its US counterpart but there is still plenty to choose from. To celebrate that I was visiting Shanghai Disneyland the next day I ordered a Passionfruit Mojito which was delicious before ordering the Crab and Artichoke Dip which was hot, filling, cheesy, delicious and exactly what I was craving.

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    When I left the Cheesecake Factory it had turned into a beautiful evening and it looked as though it was going to be a beautiful sunset. After taking some more photos of the entrance and resisting the urge to buy dessert in a Spoonful of Sugar I decided to head back to my hotel and get ready for the next day.

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    I decided to try the other route with one change on the Metro. I took Line 11 to Oriental Sports Center before changing to Line 8 back to People’s Square. This was so much easier than the other route (and also took the same time) and the train change was very simple as the two lines were separated by an escalator so no long walk was needed. At least I now knew which route to do back to the park the following morning.

    Once back at my hotel, I started getting ready for the next day. I made sure all my camera batteries were charging, my clothes were all laid out ready and most importantly that my alarm clock was set. There was still the same rain forecast as before but I was hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that it would stay dry. I had been awake for nearly twenty four hours at this point so it did not take long to fall asleep.

    I was feeling so excited at the thought of getting inside the park the following day. After all this time, it would not be long before I would be able to once again say that I have been to every Disney park in the world!

    Stay tuned for my visit to Shanghai Disneyland!

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