1. Visiting Shanghai Disneyland – One Year Later

    In November I was lucky enough to be able to visit the amazing Shanghai Disneyland again. It was my fourth visit after first visiting the park during opening week in June 2016 and then twice again in November 2016 on two separate visits to China. This visit was made even better by my boyfriend travelling to Shanghai with me just so he could also visit the park again.   We were also curious to see if the park had changed at all in the last year.

    The night before our visit, we both purchased tickets online from the Shanghai Disney Resort website which cost 370RMB each. We had also both installed the official Shanghai Disney App on our iPhones before leaving for Shanghai and we could already see our purchased tickets listed in our account.

    The next morning we left our hotel in People’s Square in the centre of Shanghai and took Line 8 of the Metro to Oriental Sports Center before changing to Line 11 to Disney Resort which took 45 minutes. One thing which was immediately noticeable as soon as we boarded the Line 11 train was the increase in the number of people walking through the carriages selling ponchos and fake Minnie ears. Oh China – you never disappoint. But I’ve noticed (as I had seen this once before on one of my previous trips) that they don’t ever approach Westerners on the train to try and sell the fake ears – they look horrible quality too!

    We arrived at Disney Resort station just before 8:30am and along with the crowds, walked the short distance to the park entrance where there were already long lines forming to get through security and enter the park itself once it opened at 9:00am.

    We were in no hurry to be amongst the first into the park as we knew it was going to be a quiet day so we carried on walking to Starbucks in Disneytown to get a coffee for breakfast.

    Just before 9:00am we made our way into the line for security which moved quickly even though it looked long. We both noticed that there were many more security guards than on our last visit and there were even people in plain clothes (they were easy enough to spot) in the queues. We saw them pull so many people out of the line who again were trying to sell fake ears to people waiting to enter the park and confiscate their bags of fake merchandise. It was really nice to see this as on our last visit, we even saw people selling fake ears once inside the park. The bag check itself took seconds.

    The line to go through the ticket turnstiles was a lot slower and we waited just over twenty minutes to get to the front. The queues however were very orderly and there was a security guard at the front of each line who made sure that only one individual group approached each turnstile at a time which was much better than the crowds surrounding every turnstile on my first visit. Our passport numbers were entered into the computer and our photos taken before our tickets were printed out and we could enter the park.

    As soon as we were inside the park, we scanned our tickets into the Shanghai Disney app to activate our Fastpass booking page for the day. It was a very simple process which took no time at all and we immediately booked a Fastpass for Tron at 10:15am and there is free wifi available to all guests across the park to do this. One of the many benefits of the app is that it has stopped some of the mass stampede for Fastpasses for Soaring Over the Horizon at rope drop.

    As always Mickey Avenue was very busy as we were walking through but it always is at the start of the day. The best time to look around Mickey Avenue is in the afternoon as it is always quiet then and you can get all the photos you want with very few people in them.

    Our first stop of the day as it always is, was to head to Treasure Cove and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle For the Sunken Treasure which is quite simply one of the best rides at any Disney park around the world. Only a ten minute wait was posted and once again, this ride ruins all of the other Pirates of the Caribbean rides at the other parks as they will never be able to live up the benchmark that this ride creates.

    We slowly walked towards Tomorrowland ready to ride Tron using our Fastpass. After storing our belongings into one of the free of charge lockers, we showed the Fastpass reservation on our iPhones to enter the line before the QR code on the screen was scanned by the next person – at this time your photo which was taken when you entered the park which is linked to your ticket shows up on their iPad and if you match, you’re all ready to ride. This simple fix by matching photos has also stopped all of the Fastpass selling that was happening in Shanghai Disneyland the last time we were there.

    Once again I loved the Tron ride and you do not have to worry about having your phone with you as there is a small storage area on each Lightcycle to put it whilst you are on the ride.

    After getting off Tron, we checked the wait times for the other rides on the Shanghai Disney app and saw that even though Peter Pan’s Flight had a 45 minute wait, we could book a Fastpass to ride it ten minutes later which is exactly what we did. You can still book Fastpasses using your paper tickets and the machines in each land but using the app itself saves so much walking everywhere especially as the park is so big.

    Once we had been on Peter Pan’s Flight, we headed a few doors down to Pinocchio Village Kitchen to eat one of the amazing Mickey-shaped pizzas they sell – and yes, one of the pizzas offered there is vegetarian.

    The Once Upon a Time Adventure located in the Enchanted Storybook Castle was showing a five minute wait which is the shortest line I have seen for it in four visits. Even though the entire attraction is in Mandarin, you do not need to understand the language in order to enjoy it – it tells the story of Snow White so you will know exactly what is going on.

    Another new discovery on this trip was The Little Garden – a quiet little hidden spot which is located near the top of the Enchanted Storybook Castle.

    As the park was so much quieter than on any other of my previous visits, I was able to take photos of the Princess murals inside the castle for the first time ever without anyone in the way.

    As I said earlier, the afternoon is the best time to explore Mickey Avenue as it is so quiet at this time as all the crowds have moved into other areas of the park. We also used this time to do some shopping in Avenue M Arcade and I finally bought myself the Vintage Shanghai Minnie ears that I had kicked myself for not buying for a whole year since our last trip! We made use of the amazing Package Pick-Up Service which meant we did not need to carry our shopping around with us and could simply collect it just before exiting the park.

    A few weeks before our visit, Gelatoni arrived at Shanghai Disneyland and the Whistle Stop Shop had been decorated in his honour. Since our visit, Stella Lou has joined Gelatoni, Duffy and Shellie May.

    The next thing we wanted to do was watch Golden Fairytale Fanfare on the castle stage – in four visits, this is still the only show I have seen at Shanghai Disneyland.

    The Mickey’s Storybook Express parade was due to start at 2:00pm and we grabbed our spot to watch about ten minutes beforehand. In four visits, I’ve found that you can leave it quite late to get a spot for the parade but once it starts, everyone in the park will be watching.

    After the parade had finished, we decided to take a few minutes time out to sit down and watch the world go by in the Gardens of Imagination along with some pastries and drinks from Remy’s Patisserie.

    Once we’d finished eating, I looked back towards Mickey Avenue and saw that Mickey and the Shanghai Disneyland Band were out so walked over to watch them. You can see in the photos and the video how quiet Mickey Avenue is during the afternoon.

    We had not yet been to Adventure Isle so we took our time to have a look around. As we have both done Soaring Over the Horizon before, we were not fussed about riding it on this trip. I have still not been on Roaring Rapids either as my last few trips have been in November when it’s cold and you really do not want to get wet.

    Once we reached Treasure Cove, we went into Barbossa’s Bounty restaurant to have a look around. The theming inside is fantastic and you can actually sit and eat as the boats for Pirates of the Caribbean are going past and as it is a counter service restaurant, you can just turn up and eat whenever you want without the need for making a reservation.

    And then of course, we had to ride Pirates of the Caribbean again.

    We then made our way to Fantasyland as we had booked a Fastpass to ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. This is one ride that you should either ride first thing in the morning or Fastpass as the lines get long every day – even the once little-used single rider line now has a long wait most days.

    As it was getting dark and we had made another Fastpass reservation to ride Tron at night, we walked over to Tomorrowland. Tron at night is simply beautiful all lit up and even after riding it again, we stood watching the lights on the building for a while – you cannot take your eyes off it. The whole of Tomorrowland was so quiet (except for the Jet Packs which always has a huge line) and we were also able to ride Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue with no wait.

    Just after 5:30pm, we decided to head to Starbucks in Disneytown to have a little break and get a coffee to drink as it had started to rain a little. To get back into the park, you just need to have your paper ticket with you and they swipe this and verify the photo they took of you when you first entered that day.

    As soon as we got back into the park, we walked straight to Fantasyland as we had been waiting all day to ride Voyage to the Crystal Grotto at night. We have been on this ride during the day but riding it at night with all the different scenes and fountains as well as the castle lit up takes it to another level.

    Getting a spot for the Ignite the Dream fireworks is relatively easy in Shanghai. Most people try to get as close to the castle as possible but if you stand further back in the Gardens of Imagination, you often have an unobstructed view. They do scale back the fireworks themselves when the air pollution is high (which it often is in China) but it is still an enjoyable show to watch.

    Once Ignite the Dream had finished, we waited about ten minutes to let everyone rush out of the park ahead of us as it makes it a lot saner to walk along Mickey Avenue. Before leaving the park, we stopped off at the Package Pick-Up desk to collect our shopping that we had bought at lunchtime – it really is such a good service and there has never been a line to collect our shopping either.

    We walked through Disneytown towards The Cheesecake Factory to get dinner before getting the Metro back into the city. A top tip when visiting Shanghai Disneyland and using the Metro is to know what time the last train leaves as then you know how much time you have once the park closes so you do not need to worry about missing the last train back.

    After we had finished our dinner, we made our way back past the park entrance towards the Metro station. It was so quiet everywhere and there was only a handful of people on the whole train so we had a seat the whole way back to People’s Square which was much appreciated as after a long day out, we were both feeling incredibly tired and completely ready to sleep!

    So a year later, I still loved Shanghai Disneyland just as much as I had on my first visits back in 2016. The change to the Fastpass system and being able to book using the iPhone app once in the park was one of the best things they’ve done and we had no trouble getting Fastpasses for the rides we wanted the whole day.

    So once again, I’m shouting from the rooftops to tell you to go to Shanghai Disneyland – it really is an incredible park and one that you’ll definitely fall in love with as much as I have. I cannot wait to go back again!

    It’s fair to say there were a few teething issues at Shanghai Disneyland when it opened but they all seem to have disappeared. It does take longer now to get into the park than what I remember but I did not see any fake merchandise or Fastpasses being sold in the park the entire day which was great to see.

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