What To Expect At Shanghai Disneyland

By in Alston Stephanus, Asia, China, Disney Adventures, Shanghai, Shanghai Disneyland, Travel Tips
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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.

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.

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~

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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!

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(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.

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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.

Line Cutting

“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.

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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.

What To Expect At Shanghai Disneyland - it is HOT - Disney Adventures - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

In my defense, Alston SENT me this photo… which means I have permission to post it.

Love yooooou. Sorry you felt like dying.

Food Everywhere

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!).

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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!

What To Expect At Shanghai Disneyland -TRON - Disney Adventures - The Nerdventurists - www.nerdventurists.com

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.

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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).

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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.

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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]

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Disney Adventures is a collaboration between The Nerdventurists and  Alston Stephanus of Alston Stephanus Accessories. Check him out on Instagram & his company!

    • johnsocalsecrets
    • August 29, 2016
    Reply

    Great article, thanks!!!

  1. Reply

    I think I would go just for the food! Assuming the food lines are shorter than the ride lines… looks like you guys had a fun time despite the crowds and heat – awesome!!

    • wanderingwagarschristina
    • August 31, 2016
    Reply

    I have not been to a Disney in a long time. As I have aged, I am way less tolerant of long lines. However, I do feel nostalgic when I read about Disney. I hope to bring my kids one day when they have the patience to wait in line. Disney Shanghai sounds magical. I am definitely looking forward to the food!

    • erikastravels
    • August 31, 2016
    Reply

    Between the lines, the cutting and the heat, I don’t know if I’d be able to enjoy this experience too much! I remember standing in line at Disneyworld when I was seven for at least an hour for each ride. At 3+ hours, this seems way worse and the experience sounds….intense.

    I’m glad you were able to enjoy the park regardless, though. The lotus bao looks fantastic!

  2. Reply

    So glad you had a great time in spite of the heat and the long waits. One of my pet peeves is pushy people so I don’t think I would do well with those cutting in line. Happens everywhere these days though, unfortunately. I love Disney so I would hope I would enjoy it all as well. Sounds like a fun park overall. A ride inside the castle sounds interesting.

  3. Reply

    This seems so stressful! I know I’ve had my fair share of Disney experiences in Florida, where it’s hot, humid, and I was watching 10+ children, so I completely understand. I’m glad you had a good experience overall!

  4. Reply

    You guys are so cute! And hysterical in the long line and heat photos. I love Disney and would totally visit Disney Shanghai but after your warnings, I’d probably wait until a low season (if there is one) or a rainy day!

  5. Reply

    I don’t think I could hack the heat and lines, but you two looked amazing doing it. Do you always dress that well?!? As for pushy crowds, I’m an elbows out kinda girl.

    • authenticfoodquest
    • September 1, 2016
    Reply

    Quite an ordeal …it sounds like. So glad you were able to endure and enjoy the heck out of Disney! The picture of a dehydrated Alston is precious!! Great article and summary of your experience.

  6. Reply

    This was a little disappointing to read. As a big Disney fan, I’m surprised they didn’t plan to have a way to shade people from the heat or create circulation of air in tight space. In addition, no way am I waiting 5 hours in a line for one ride. That’s nearly half the day. There’s a lot of logistics to streamline there.

  7. Reply

    NOPE. Nope, nope, nope. haha I couldn’t do it. You are to be commended for dealing with the crowds, the lines, and the heat. I wouldn’t do it. I haven’t been to a Disney park since I was 4 and while I appreciate the company in many ways (their LGBT stance for one) I have no interest in going to a park. BUT I know there are millions that love it and I hope they visit and have fantastic times! Thanks for this enlightening post!

  8. Reply

    Hmmm… I feel there’s too little for grown ups there 🙁

  9. Reply

    We’re embarking on a Disney world tour and had the best experience in Hong Kong yesterday, it was totally empty and we only queued for 30 minutes for one ride 5-10 for the rest! Thanks for all the info, we’re planning Tokyo and Shanghai early next year and can’t wait. I’ve been collecting Pandora charms from each park to create and awesome Disney World Tour charm bracelet!

  10. Reply

    This entire trip looks funners! I’m not a ride’s person but I like going to amusement parks for the overall vibes. I’ve been to Disney World in Orlando and that was a good time, watching the musical acts. Do they have those as well in Shanghai?

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  12. Reply

    The food really was great! And quite affordable in my opinion. I think I almost went to as many restaurants there as I went on rides and attractions 😀

    1. Reply

      I wish I could have eaten more of it! Hopefully they add more veggie options in the future.

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    • Sandy N Vyjay
    • July 5, 2017
    Reply

    Disneyland is indeed the happiest place anywhere in the world. I am always amazed by the standard themes of Disney across the globe. Have visited the Disneyland in Hong Kong. The Shanghai one too promises some thrilling times. Hope to get there too!

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