Disneyland! To me Disneyland has always been a magical place where I can be a little kid, play dress-up, meet my childhood heroes, live my princessy dreams and live a day (or two) without stress, worry or a care in the world. Ever since my first visit to Disneyland Park in Anaheim, Los Angeles when I was 12 years-old, that enchantment over me has never faded.
As I write this post (in 2018), I have now visited a total of 4 Disneylands — the one in Los Angeles as a kid, and then the others as an adult, to Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris (which I wrote about here), and now, the Shanghai Disneyland Park. Hopefully there will be a day when I can say I’ve visited them all!
I was in Shanghai with my friend Abby, to visit a mutual friend Diana who was (at that time) working in the city. I guess you can say that on our entire trip to Shanghai — it was really Disneyland that was on our minds. Of course at the end of the day, Disneyland never ceases to amaze (even though I half wished my Mandarin was better cause so most shows didn’t have translation), and as expected, we had such an awesome time. So if you’re planning a visit, here are a couple of pointers to help make your time just as magical as ours.
1. Buying Tickets Online
The best way to ensure that you have a stress-free and queue-free entry into the Shanghai Disneyland Park is to purchase your tickets online. If you read Chinese (unfortunately I don’t), there are a few Chinese websites where you can conveniently get your tickets. However, I believe the most trustworthy site would probably be the park’s official website (and it’s in English). Tickets start from RMB¥370~US$60 for a 1-day ticket, and RMB¥670~US$105 for a 2-day ticket for adults (2018).
2. How to Get There
Shanghai Disneyland Park is connected to Shanghai City and Pudong Airport through various modes of transport — car and coach, bus, taxi and train. The Metro Line 11 connects the park to most of Shanghai, with the first train arriving at 7am and the last train leaving about before 11pm or so (check online for proper times). During my visit, there were 3 of us with lots of luggage — so we decided to call a taxi. It cost us about RMB¥200-250 (US$30-40) for a one way trip.
3. Staying in the Disney Hotels
When in Disneyland, get the full Disney experience! And that means living, breathing, wearing…. and of course, staying in everything Disney. There are two Disney-themed hotels within the park vicinity — the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel. The latter is a little less costly so my friends and I had the opportunity to live in with Woody, Buzz Lightyear and all of Andy’s other toys for a night. I love that everything was decorated ala Toy Story — from the hotel’s ‘toy-bricks’ exterior and colorful interior, to the toy characters on the room wallpaper, bedsheets and toiletries. I felt like a little kid again.
4. When to Visit — Weekdays!
We allocated 2 days to visit the Shanghai Disneyland Park (one on a weekend, the other on a weekday). Our first day was on a weekend, and it was completely packed to the brim — the wait to all the rides were ridiculous (up to 2 hours), and the Disney FastPass (explained below) ran out in record time; so we could only get on 3 rides. However, when we revisited on a weekday, it was relatively less stressful — there was ample space to stroll, the queues were bearable, and we collected 4 FastPass (and 8 rides in total) that day. If you have limited time in Shanghai, make a visit to the park on a weekday. You could probably do everything you’d want to do (and ride) in just that one visit.
5. Getting the PhotoPass
I think the Disney PhotoPass is the best thing ever! I love the fact that I get photographers to take my pictures (especially group pictures) in addition to those that I snap on my own camera. For RMB¥199~US$30 (per group) for a day pass, my friends and I can just walk up to the designated photographers based at certain (strategic) spots all around the park to have our picture taken — and it includes Character Greeting locations, and those ‘mid-ride’ shots of you enjoying the rides. It will all be scanned into your very own Disney PhotoPass Card — and can be later viewed and downloaded via the website, or on the mobile app.
6. Using the FastPass
Don’t we all hate queues? Well, the happiest place on earth will definitely draw the crowds, and we’d have no choice but to line up for our favorite rides. Thankfully, there is the Disney FastPass. It gives you a specific time to head to the ride of your choice and skip (most of the) long snaky queue. The FastPass is free, and all you need to do is download the Disneyland Shanghai Park app on your phone, register and scan your tickets into the app (if you are in a group, only one person needs to download the app and scan all the tickets in his/her phone). The FastPass reissues a new ride every 2 hours (even if you have not sat on the previous ride yet). Plan and use it well (I have some suggestions in point No.10), and you don’t have to spend half your visit waiting in line.
7. Park Meals and Snacks
Shanghai Disneyland Park is filled with restaurants and cafes with all kinds of cuisine from Western to Asian; and lots of your favorite snacks like pizza, turkey leg, waffles and popcorn. During my visit, I was always with one snack or another — but for the essential meals like lunch and dinner, I usually timed it outside the usual hours. It gets really really packed and busy in the restaurants during meal times, so if you want to save time and make your meals quick, eat at odd hours. In the meantime, pack up on the snacks to keep you energized.
8. What to Wear
When you’re in Disneyland, dress up! Wear your favorite Disney shirt, put cute Disney ears in your hair, dress up as a princess, or slip into a cute tutu skirt (like I did)! It’s great to act like a kid again, and no one is gonna give you a second look because everyone is doing the same thing. My friends and I were visiting the park during Halloween, so the costumes were extremely extravagant. It is only during certain celebrations that this is allowed — we don’t want people getting the real (and visiting) characters mixed up!
9. My Top 3 Favorite Rides
I definitely have to add my top 3 favorite rides in this list, because I believe that whatever you decide to do at the Shanghai Disneyland Park, you should not miss these rides. The top of the list has definitely got to be the TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster — getting strapped onto a motorcycle and whizzed along on a thrilling ride of turning and twisting, accompanied by music, lights and 3D graphics is definitely not something you’ll forget!
I also enjoyed Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure 3D adventure ride, and I especially loved Soaring Over the Horizon — where I was taken for an exciting flight around the world. The ride felt so real with water sprinkles, wind in my hair, and even smells of the sea, jungles, and flowers.
10. Suggested 1-Day Itinerary
If you’re like me, and want to make use of all your time in the park and get on as many rides as possible, here’s a suggested one day itinerary to help you get the most out of your visit — and that includes all the roller coasters! This itinerary only works on weekdays when the crowds are not as crazy as the weekends.
Upon entering the park, get a FAST PASS for Soaring Over the Horizon.
Then head to Treasure Cove to LINE UP for Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure (no fast pass for this ride).
After 2 hours, get a FAST PASS for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Head to Adventure Isle to LINE UP for Roaring Rapids (time to get wet).
Have LUNCH before noon.
After another 2 hours, get a FAST PASS for Peter Pan.
In the mean time, don’t forget to check the times for your CLAIMED FAST PASSES.
Head to Mickey Avenue to catch the Disney Parade!
After the parade, line up to meet and greet your favorite Disney Characters for pictures (there is a daily time schedule).
Get a FAST PASS for TRON Lightcycle Power Run (I prefer the night run).
Head to the Gardens of Imagination to see Mickey in His House.
Get on the rides for your CLAIMED FAST PASSES.
Best time to get DINNER.
Head to Tomorrowland to LINE UP for the last ride of the day, Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue.
Find your sweet spot in front of the Castle to watch the Disney Fireworks Display.
Of course, this is just a suggested itinerary of all my favorite rites in the Shanghai Disneyland Park. I have not included the kids’ rides, exhibitions and performance shows (Please Note: A large majority of shows are in Mandarin with no translations). And while you’re in the park, don’t forget to take lots and lots of pictures, eat lots and lots of Disney snacks, and have lots and lots of fun!