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Trip Report

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  • Trip Report

    I just got back from 2.5 days at Shanghai Disneyland and I wanted to share my experience with you all.

    I flew into Shanghai from Tokyo (after making a 4 day trip to the Parks there), and arrived early evening. I’d been to Shanghai before so this trip was literally about checking the box on the 12th Disney Park, so I never went into the city itself.

    It took about an hour or more to go through immigration and because my flight was delayed about 2 hours and then immigration took so long the Park had closed. Which in hindsight was fine, cause this is not a Park that you arrive late to.

    I took a taxi from the airport and believe it cost around 90 Yuan. Very easy, I just followed the signs to the taxi line and ignored all the guys trying to sell me a taxi ride. However it did take a moment to explain to the driver where I wanted to go. The language barrier was a bit of a challenge, but he eventually figured it out with words like Disneyland, Disney, Mickey Mouse. But then once we got to the Resort property (which is huge), I had to navigate him to the hotel with hand gestures as I read the directional signs to the hotel-which were in Chinese and English. So I would recommend that you have something visual to help communicate… like a picture, not words, of your hotel and the Park logo with the Chinese lettering to ensure a smooth ride. Or the name of the hotel in Chinese if you’re staying on property.

    I stayed at the Toy Story Hotel with a Park view. It’s a simple hotel—very basic. Similar to the Value hotels at WDW. But it does have a cheapness feel to it. It was very clean. It felt sparse, and the windows don’t open in your room. There is food on the lower level—but even that was an experience. I had asked where the restaurant was, and they said they didn’t have one. The key was I had said restaurant and they have a café—so again a funny language barrier thing. Next time, I would spend the extra cash and stay at the Disneyland Hotel just to see if it’s a bit more upscale. But again, I was in the room so little that it didn’t really matter. I took the shuttle bus (runs every 15 mins) to and from the Park each day…the walk looked doable, but a bit of a task and not a very relaxing walk. And I will warn you—SDL is huge—I don’t think I walked as much before at any Disney Park.

    The hours of the Park were surprising short. 9am-7pm and 9am-8pm while I was there. And it was packed from about lunch time to closing. Altho wait times drop a bit when there are parades or the castle night show, but pretty much remain a wait from about 11am until closing.

    Make sure you get to the Park at least an hour before rope drop—at least. I recommend even more. It’s a very long process actually getting into the Park. First you line up to go through bag check and electronic screeners (there were probably 10 or so). This took a while, because a lot of the guests were not familiar with this procedure and would walk around the metal detectors rather than through, and get redirected back to go through them and then they really examine your bags, especially if you’re a local. Once through those, you line up to get into the Park.

    They started letting people through the screeners about an hour before the Park opened. Then they let us into the Park about a half hour before the scheduled opening time, where they hold you on Mickey Avenue until rope drop.

    Going through the main entrance is very slow. Mainly because most people have to show their identification and then get issued a ticket. And this just takes a long time and can be a bit frustrating as the process doesn’t always go smoothly and a good amount of people were turned away, I presume because of a problem. I think they do it this way because of theft. I can elaborate more about this process if anyone is interested so ask away. They also secretly take your picture and that gets tied to your ticket. So if you leave and come back you don’t get your handstamped cause they just look at the picture that comes up when your ticket gets scanned again. This prevents you from sharing your ticket with anyone else. And yes they enforce it as I saw them do so. Beware of locals selling tickets and fake Mickey ears--both inside the Park and just outside the turnstiles.

    Here’s one interesting note. I purchased a 2 day ticket at the hotel the night before. That process was smooth and easy. And they issued me a hard ticket to use. Now for me, since I’ve been to all of the Parks—the fun is collecting actual tickets. So I was a bit disappointed when they provided me a 2 day ticket that was literally just a hotel room key—void of any SDL logo or character. And I had to have a real ticket as a souvenir. So for my last day, I went to guest services the day before to purchase a ticket—so I didn’t have to worry about it the next morning. Well, I purchased the ticket, and had to provide them with my passport number and a photo of my passport at that time, and then they issued me a receipt. So the next day I had to go back to guest services before the Park opened, show them my passport picture again (which was on my phone), the receipt, and get the real ticket the day of. I had to do it this way because I refused to carry around my passport in the Parks for fear of something happening to it so I wanted to use the picture as proof—which they told me couldn’t be done at the main entrance. So just something to think about. It may be different if you are willing to show your actual passport.

    At rope drop be prepared. They run. They seriously run and you will get trampled if you don’t run too. It’s a made dash to the Fastpass outposts and the E ticket rides. They dropped the rope promptly on two of my days right on time, but one day they dropped it almost 15 mins early. So get there with that anticipation. The stores are open and they have character greets set up so you can wander a bit and then make your way up to the front—hint—I would go through the shops and then exit them and arrive right at the front of the line by going through the shops as most people just kept filling in space at the back of the mass of people in the middle of the street.

    Someone on the boards, said—at rope drop go right or left. My first day, I ignored that and I went to Fantasyland which is straight. And to my surprise Fantasyland was empty. Seriously empty for about the first hour. Everyone goes right or left—and that’s because—everyone gets Fastpasses for the big attractions and/or tries to ride them first, and the lines for the FPs can get quite long. And they are all gone within 3 hours. So run!

    Fastpasses are not distributed at the attractions but at outposts in each land, where you line up and then use a electronic machine to scan your ticket and then pick which ride in that land you want a fastpass for. It’s a bit of a slow process but efficient. So very different than we are used to elsewhere. And yes, I recommend you play the FP game. If you don’t mind walking from one end of the Park to the other you can probably get three FPs a day. The key is your first fastpass has to be within the 45 min window for another one for this to work.

    For me—Pirates was THE BEST RIDE. I rode it four times. Next for me was Peter Pan as it’s different than all its other versions, and then Tron. Tron is really just Space Mtn on a motorbike in an unusual riding position—but fun nonetheless. This explains why they don’t have a Space Mtn. But Pirates is totally unique. Reminds me of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando a bit with all the projection screens. DO NOT MISS this ride.

    Now for me the surprise hit was the Challenger Trails in Adventure Isle. Look it up. I did it just so I could say I did everything but really enjoyed it. It’s actually a bit challenging and scary at times and dangerous-you could get hurt on this. And there will never be anything like this in the US parks because of the lawyers. Do it. The line takes a while cause you have to store everything including your phone in a locker (so that’s one line). Then you wait to get a harness (another line), then you go through yet another line to get the harness and ropes fastened to you. It sounds like a pain, and it was a bit annoying, but it was awesome fun.

    Lines overall are huge. Most attractions averaged 40 mins plus, by noon, but the big ones can get quite long. I believe I saw 190 mins for Soarin. And that never really went much lower the entire day. So I highly reco that you FP Soarin.The accuracy of the wait times varied. But sometimes things moved quicker.

    The biggest disappointment for me was Roaring Rapids. It’s Grizzly River Run at DCA basically. And the big creature that they hyped up—well, I barely caught a glimpse of it and it wasn’t very animatronic if at all.

    The Parade was nice. Nothing too fantastic but it wasn’t a disappointment. You don’t have to get there early—there’s plenty of space especially if you’re tall. But do be prepared for the mobile phones to suddenly block your view as everyone raises them above their heads and kids get hoisted onto shoulders.

    They have single rider lines for most of the big attractions—they aren’t always open, and sometimes even they are a long wait. But I used them quite a bit.

    The food was fine. Nothing special, I did mostly counter service. I also partake in the trick of eating at unpopular hours to avoid the crowds. I highly recommend doing so here as well. Like, lunch at 10am. Dinner at 4pm. There isn’t much in the way of breakfast there. And then lines during peak times do get rather long.

    Cast members. They were so nice, and so happy and so eager to please—except they spoke very little English. But they tried, but many times I was left unfulfilled with my request and just gave up. But I can’t really complain about that. They greeted me with a smiling Hello or Thank you every single time. And you can’t help but appreciate the effort they are making. I have tried, but can’t even utter hardly anything in Chinese. Japanese yes, French yes, but I just can’t get the hang of Chinese. So the communication difficulty was all on me.

    Yes, they push. Yes they line cut, and yes they have no sense of personal space there. And there’s a lot of interesting smells and lots of smelling of people’s breath. But here’s what I will say. It’s not that they are trying to cut in line—it’s that culturally they fill up every bit of space. So if I was in line but was more left, they would fill that space next to me and if I didn’t move first, they would. I never thought they were being rude at all, just space efficient. And as for the line cutting—I never saw anyone do it to get ahead in line to save time, but rather to join the rest of their party—and this happened constantly…they even have signs about it at most of the attraction entrances that go ignored.

    Photopass—the photographers are everywhere. And they actually take good pictures. However, the process of getting your pictures is a bit cumbersome. I’m still trying to figure out exactly how to get all of mine downloaded. I got some, and the site is incredibly slow and frustrating.

    Meets and greets. They line up for them, and the lines move quickly--as there isn't a lot of interaction and not really any autograph signing. At noon on one day it was only 10 mins to meet Mickey. However, it was 30 mins to meet a princess.

    Now, for the highlight. Everyone talked about the peeing and the spitting. Yes I saw spitting, never at me though. And I truly thought I was going to leave the Park without a pee sighting…but on my last day while in line for the carousel (remember, I had to ride every ride) a little boy of about 5 pulls it out with the help of his parents and pees into the bushes in the queue right in front of me. I just laughed and looked away keeping my distance, and then the mother pulled out a baggie and I thought oh good lord, NO!!!! But luckily there was no need for the baggie and the boy did his business and they continued right along waiting in line as if nothing unusual had happened.

    My overall impression... The Park is beautiful. They did a great job. But it needs more rides and needs to expand asap. It has certainly been built that way as there’s lots of obviously unused finished available space. The Resort is not really a resort just yet (however there is the largest Starbucks in Disneytown I have ever seen, plus a Cheesecake Factory and Wolfgang Puck). Go and see it. It’s fun—and that’s what matters.

    Any specific questions, let me know...I'd be happy to help.

  • #2
    Thanks for the in depth report. I'm somewhat disappointed with the attraction roster and won't be booking a trip anytime soon.

    last time i buy crystal ball from pic n save!

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    • #3
      Wow, that is a great trip report. Lots of tips to use, for when I want to visit the resort probably next year.

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      • #4
        Is it really worth going all the way to Shanghai just for the Pirates and Tron rides?
        Born in a shoebox and making the most of it.

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        • #5
          We have two days in the park. We'd like to do everything except soaring (we have passes at Disneyland). We will likely skip roaring rapids as well as it will be quite cold in April. What would you recommend we start with? Left, right, or center?

          Is is it worth it to wait in the lines for fast pass? How long are we talking?

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          • #6
            You'll be fine with two days and will probably be able to do everything and even a couple of duplicates.
            You should do Soaring (it's the World version) regardless. It's great to see how much they love this ride but it's nothing special. Roaring Rapids you can skip--unless you want to check the box to say your rode it. I wasn't impressed. Do it towards the end of the day incase you get wet.

            You definitely want to play the FP game. As it helps a ton.

            Get to the Park at least one hour before opening and when they let you into the Park make your way up to the top of the rope. And when they drop that rope--run, just like everyone else.

            If you go left--FP Tron and ride Buzz maybe Jet Packs. Then head right and get your next FP... You can also hit up a few Fantasyland rides on your way to check them off the list. Peter Pan is really good--I liked this version the best of all the Parks.

            If you go right, FP Mine Train or Soaring. You must do the challenge trails--but don't do them first. It is a slow moving line and a time suck that you can't afford in the morning-but really a great experience.

            If you go straight you will likely feel like the only person in Fantasyland for about thirty mins which can be nice...

            Afternoon, just accept the fact that you will need to wait in lines. So use the morning to get as many rides under your belt as you can.

            Take advantage of the single rider lines...And if you've got a travel companion have one stand in line while the other gets the FPs.

            See the Tarzan show, and make sure you don't leave Pirates until the last minute. It breaks down frequently.

            This Park is huge...and it will tire you out. But you're going to have a blast.

            Any more specific questions...feel free to ask as you start planning.

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            • #7
              Did you use a travel visa or did you opt for the 144 hour transit visa free option?

              im doing the latter soon, going to Tokyo after Shanghai, but it seems travelers are having some trouble at their home airports with this. Some have even missed their flights!

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              • #8
                I did the standard visa--and it's good for something like ten years...I had heard that there were some issues with the transit visas also, so I figured better safe than sorry and just in case my plans changed at all. I was covered.

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                • #9
                  The $600 it will save me not getting visas for our group is too much of an incentive not to use the option. I guess I'll just print out the 144 visa free page from the Chinese embassy, confirm with the airline, and maybe get to the airport several hours early just in case.

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                  • #10
                    Did you pay for food with the local currency, credit card, or a charge to your room?
                    I'm with you on wanting a ticket I can keep as a souvenir, but I'll also be there during Christmas week so I want to be sure that I have a ticket so I'm thinking of buying online. From what I've read, I'll need to pick up at the park using my passport (ugh).
                    Do you remember if there was an exit fee leaving China that you had to pay at the airport? I've encountered that in a couple of countries where I've managed to spend all of my local currency only to have to find an ATM at the airport to pay this type of fee.
                    Thanks for your trip report!

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                    • #11
                      I used both credit card and cash to pay for items in and around the Park. I did not charge anything to the hotel room.
                      No exit fee leaving China.

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                      • #12
                        Thank you GUYNYC - much appreciated.

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