Shanghai Disneyland

Guide To Visiting Shanghai Disneyland

My niece Laura is visiting Shanghai Disneyland soon, so she asked me for suggestions. While this site is not so much about vacation planning, the experience is so unique, I thought it might be well to share some thoughts about how to really enjoy the experience.

I make the assumption that the reader has not only visited the state-side Disney parks, but other parks globally. If you've taken the time to visit other world-wide parks, I would recommend doing this as well. It's not as beautifully created as Disneyland Paris, or as perfectly operated as Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea, but it is a great park.
Train Station entrance to the park. Train not included. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I make the assumption that the reader has not only visited the stateside Disney parks, but other parks globally. If you’ve not taken the time to visit other world-wide parks, I would recommend doing this as well. Shanghai is not as beautifully created as Disneyland Paris, or as perfectly operated as Tokyo Disneyland and Disney Sea, but it is a great park.

The centerpiece of Shanghai Disneyland as seen from the Voyage of the Crystal Grotto. Photo by J. Jeff Kober
The centerpiece of Shanghai Disneyland as seen from the Voyage of the Crystal Grotto. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

When visiting, consider the following:

First, consider the time of year, and check to make sure there are no major Chinese holidays. It will be busy enough when you visit. You don’t want to make it more painful than necessary. Also give consideration to the weather, which for me, was more blistering in the summer than Walt Disney World. And that’s saying a lot.

At the time I visited, there were really no hotels nearby other than the two Disney hotels on property. Others have spoken about taking the train to Disney, and there is a nice station at the entrance to the park. But I believe that if you’ve spent that much money getting there, and you’re going to have to stay in a hotel already, you might as well treat yourself to staying at one of the Disney hotels. Otherwise, give yourself plenty of time taking a train or a taxi.

Shanghai Disneyland
The view from the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Enough can’t be said about getting there early. If 9:00 am is the opening time, then they will probably open security at 7:30, ticketing at 8:00 and the park at 8:30. Take advantage of being there early.

Shanghai Disneyland
The crowds are not for the faint of heart. Neither is the weather. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

FastPasses are given at certain Guest Services Stations in each land. Do not look for them at the attraction.

Shanghai Disneyland
A guest services booth at Treasure Cove. You can find these throughout the park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Different than any other park are Tron Lightcycle, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto and the Roaring Rapids. Those are four you probably don’t want to miss, especially Tron Lightcycle and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. They will blow your socks off, and you will likely want to see them more than once.

Shanghai Disneyland
Entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. Photo by J. Jeff Kober

If you haven’t done Seven Dwarfs mine ride at Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World, you would want to do that as well. Get a FastPass! Also note that there are single rider lines, but they have not always yielded a shorter line. But check them out.

Shanghai Disneyland
You will learn “Heigh Ho” in Mandarin if you listen carefully. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Peter Pan’s Flight is really impressive as well, though if you’ve seen the revision to the one at Disneyland, it is fairly similar. The good news here is that it’s less of a line here at Shanghai Disneyland than it is in Anaheim.

Shanghai Disneyland
Entrance to Peter Pan’s Flight. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There is a very cool, but very crowded ropes course at Camp Discovery in Shanghai Disney. Know that you would need to make this the first attraction of the day if you don’t want to wait a long time to try it out. Also know that a pedestrian trail covers roughly everything you would see if you didn’t do that, and you could enjoy that any time during the day.

Shanghai Disneyland
Guests enjoying the ropes course at Adventure Isle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

I loved Soarin’ Over California. The new one is Soarin’ Over the Horizon, which takes you around the world. If you can catch it in California or Florida, I recommend doing so there. The lines are very long, and I personally didn’t like it as much as Soarin’ Over California.

Shanghai Disneyland
Entrance to Soarin’ Over the Horizon. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Check out Enchanted Storybook Castle. There is a walk-through attraction based on Snow White. It’s very cool. There’s also a lovely restaurant in the castle. It’s a great place to get away from the crowds and enjoy a meal. Not only does it have a beautiful setting, but Disney characters and princesses are there to meet you.

Shanghai Disneyland
Interior atrium of Enchanted Storybook Castle. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Shanghai Disneyland
The Mulan Dining room inside Storybook Castle. There are several dining rooms based on various princesses. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

If you want a more authentic cuisine, consider visiting Wandering Moon Tea House, which offers cuisines from many Chinese regions.

Shanghai Disneyland
Wandering Moon Tea House, located in the center of the park. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

If you only have one day, I would avoid Dumbo, Winnie the Pooh, the Explorer Canoes, the Fantasia Carousel, and the Jet Pack. If those really appeal to you, then you ought to take the spinner rides early in the morning. With Winnie the Pooh, you could get a FastPass.

Shanghai Disneyland
Cool ride, but is it worth the line? Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

The fireworks are a great ending to the day. The parade is so so compared to others world-wide. The Pirate show and Tarzan show are pretty cool, plus they give you a chance to sit indoors with air conditioning.

Shanghai Disneyland
Tarzan show features a Chinese Acrobat troop. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

Frozen is cute, but it’s like the sing-along shows in the states. If you love it, then include it.

Frozen is cute, but it’s like the sing-along shows in the states. If you love it, then include it.
Frozen Show in Fantasyland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

There is also something known as DisneyTown. It includes lots of shopping and dining options, plus The Lion King Show in Mandarin. You definitely need more days if you are planning on seriously checking this out.

World of Disney Entrance in Disney Town. You can find almost everything there. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
World of Disney Entrance in Disney Town. You can find almost everything there. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

How many days at the park? If you love Disney, at least 3 days. You want to spend time seeing the phenomenal details that make up these parks.

Shanghai Disneyland
Wander through the many adventures of Alice in Wonderland. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Shanghai Disneyland
Check out the fun details found in Treasure Cove. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But you can see many of the things you want to see in one day if you organize yourself, get there early, and don’t go on a crowded day. Either way, you will enjoy Shanghai Disneyland. It is a one of the great crown jewels in the Disney Parks.

Want to know more? I wrote about 5 things I find amazing about Shanghai Disneyland and 5 things that need improvement. I also wrote a part I and part II series on the retail experience alone. Enjoy Shanghai Disneyland!

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