The newest Disney park on the block is the megalith Disneyland in Shanghai. Not only is it the largest Disney park in the world at 963 acres (that’s THREE TIMES the size of Hong Kong Disneyland), it also has the tallest and biggest castle at a staggering 196 feet. It’s based off The Beast’s castle from Beauty & the Beast and even has a ride inside.
What to Expect from Shanghai Disney
It’s been plagued by some bad press and even had to close because tourists trashed the place and the Shanghai government and tourism bureau was forced to put out a theme park etiquette guide. No joke.
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That's a wrap on another episode of #DisneyAdventures with @Kmanente from the @nerdventurists … Stay tune for all the experience we had at Shanghai Disneyland. —————————————————-📷: @ilcortigiano 🏰 —————————————————- #igersdisney #ig_disney #TravelNerdy #shanghaidisneyland #Disneyland #PinUp #Adventurers #Castle #Vintage #Dandy #Dapper #travel #instatravel #travelgram #travelawesome #travelblogger #wanderlust #cute #Cosplayer #cosplay #Disneybounding #whiterabbit #minniemouse #geek #nerd
Because the park is relatively new (it only opened this summer), not a lot of people know what to expect when heading there. We sure didn’t, and even though Alston and I both read our fair share of articles not being super complimentary of the park, we had more Disney Adventures to do! So we book the flights, got a whole gaggle of people together (seriously there were fourteen of us, including our lovely videographer Jeff!), and decided to get magical~
Shanghai Disneyland was an experience, a good one ultimately, but also a very intense one. So if you’re thinking of heading to the Happiest Place On Earth, Chinese edition, here are some tips and tricks that you are definitely going to need.
It’s time for another episode of Disney Adventures with Kristina and Alston!
(Btw brings lots of towels for your cameras. Shanghai is HOT and HUMID and does not like glass.)
Lines. lines. and more lines.
One of the biggest complaints when Shanghai Disneyland first opened were that the lines were atrocious. Like 5 hours long atrocious. People were pitching fits, demanding money back, and more. Being a theme park veteran, I wasn’t too concerned. I had waited 3.5 hours for a ride before, an hour or two in lines didn’t scare me.
However, when those lines are 2+ hours and also in the blazing heat and there’s no air circulation as hundreds of people (if not thousands) are crammed together in a relatively small area… it’s pretty damn miserable.
The line to get into Disney itself, just the bag check, was awful and took an hour and a half. Then you have to queue for fast passes at designated Guest Services pavilions, not at the rides themselves. This means that multiple rides’ fast passes are at only ONE building. Lines to get fast passes sometimes were wrapping around corners and trialing off into the distance. It was insane.
Thankfully Shanghai Disneyland has an app that updates you on all line times, and there’s multiple boards posted around the park with wait times.
“It’s a cultural thing, it’s a cultural thing, it’s a cultural thing.” I had to say this to myself countless times as people pushed up against me in line and tried to weasel their way around us. Whether it’s the ‘My family is up ahead” trick or just blatantly trying to cut (which happened plenty of times), waiting in line at Shanghai is war. You’ll have to pick your battles, but with enough determination, dirty looks, and hopefully someone who can speak Mandarin, you’ll be fine.
Just be prepared to glare a lot and be a bit aggressive, or at least paranoid.
Sweating To Death
There is no shade at Shanghai Disney. In fact, the architect seems to have wanted to create a concept that had as much sky visible as possible. However, when the theme park in question is located in Shanghai… which is very hot and insanely humid… he probably should have rethought this. Part of the fault lies with us in going in August, but still, you’d expect a few more places where you could hide from the sun’s glaring death ray. Alas, this is not the case. The sea of umbrellas from locals and other Asian attendees will be the only shade you will get at Shanghai Disneyland. Some of the rides have coverage of course, but because lines are so long, there are long portions of waiting in the sun.
You will feel miserable. You will be dehydrated. Don’t bother with makeup… it won’t last ten minutes. And you’ll be photographed like this.
In my defense, Alston SENT me this photo… which means I have permission to post it.
Love yooooou. Sorry you felt like dying.
One of the good things about Shanghai Disney is that food is literally everywhere. We never had to wander far. There’s a host of options in every land, some with multiple restaurants inside. And of course there’s the famous Mickey Pretzels and ice cream galore (which you will definitely need in the heat!).
For my fellow veggies, there are slim pickings here unfortunately. There IS a veggie burger option in Tomorrowland and an egg tart in Fantasyland (if you eat eggs), but that was the whole of it more or less. For vegetarian options you’ll need to head to Disney Town where the chain restaurants are or pick meat out of other dishes.
I do recommend the buffet breakfast at the Disneyland Hotel though! Lotus bao forever.
Amazing New Rides
Shanghai Disney is home to two brand new rides not seen in any other Disney park. The video above is from TRON, wherein you get on your own light cycle and zoom off on a thrilling race. The ride itself is short, but it’s high adrenaline, especially since you’re almost laying down!
The Fast Passes for TRON tend to go first, and it’s easy to see why, so if you want to hit it up, immediately get your butt over to Tomorrowland’s Guest Services and get fast passes for your whole party.
Get there early as well because you’ll need to put ALL your stuff in lockers, and there were lines for the lockers because they sold out constantly. Hopefully they get a better system in place or at least about 500 more lockers.
The other new ride is really a revamp of an old one. Pirate Of The Caribbean: Battle of the Sunken Treasure is AMAZING. It’s a 4D adventure that takes the original Pirates ride and just makes it magical. Honestly, Alston and I almost cried. It’s incredible.
Not only is the ride great, there’s a whole pirates LAND. Yes, Treasure Cove is all about pirates and there’s multiple ships to explore as well as a mini water park area (which was amazing on the super hot day we went).
PRO TIP: The ride doesn’t open until around 11AM-12PMish. There’s not a set time, but it says around noon. Get there around this time and just waltz on in. Otherwise prepare to wait a very long time. There is no Fast Pass.
For Alice In Wonderland fans there’s a maze based off the Tim Burton films for you to enjoy as well, and the Peter Pan ride has got a special effect upgrade and is a bit longer.
A Wonderful Time
In the end… it’s Disney. You’re going to enjoy the crap out of it. The park is huge and there’s lots to see. There’s rides from all of the different parks around the world and it is distinctly Chinese, which will give you an entirely new experience in itself.
So get ready for an adventure, because Shanghai Disneyland definitely is one! You can grab tickets and more information at the Shanghai Disneyland Resort website.
Photos by Maurizio Cortigiano [Instagram]