Shanghai Disneyland is the newest of the Disney resorts to open in the world. Initially delayed, it had its grand opening in the summer of 2016.
I have actually been to Shanghai Disneyland twice – once in the height of summer and once in winter – and recently purchased a season pass.
Personally, I would avoid going to Shanghai Disneyland in the summer. It gets very hot and humid in Shanghai and there is not a lot of shade at Shanghai Disney. If schools are out for summer, then you will find that the queues for rides are long. If you’re looking at going on the big rides such Tron or Soaring Over the Horizon then you are looking at between a 2 and 3 hour wait at least. However, if you’re able to stay late then you may be able to jump on a lot of rides in quick succession as families tend to leave after the fireworks. Bear in mind, you will have a long wait for a taxi, I’m talking around an hour, but there are plenty of taxis ready to go nearly anywhere in Shanghai.
We went on a weekday in November, when it has started becoming colder, and it was a much more enjoyable experience. The queues were much smaller and the walking around kept you warm.
Taxis are plentiful in Shanghai so you should be able to find one easily. Be mindful that Disney is not said the same in Mandarin as English so bring a back of translation or picture to help communicate with the driver. The taxi drop off is a little walk away from the park so be aware of that. There are security guards around who can point you in the right direction. There are toilets on the way to the park, too. At the end of the day there can be a wait to get a taxi back to your accommodation.
You could get an Uber to and from Disney, but I’ve been told that they drop off and pick up in really inconvenient locations.
There is a metro (subway) line that goes all the way to the actual Disney park, you may just have to swap lines a couple of times. However, the metro is really cheap so would save you money.
Fast passes are available for some of the rides, especially the more popular ones, but these can often become unavailable quickly. In winter, we arrived at the park around 9.30am and the passes for the whole day had been given out for Soaring Over the Horizon. The fast passes are not next to the ride but in more central locations for the Land that they are in.
If you do decide to head to Disneyland, there is an app you can download which gives you the live wait times for the rides. The wifi in the park is a little unreliable so the app may not work very well.
I haven’t been able to go on all of the rides yet but I definitely recommend Tron. The riding position is as if you are actually on a lightcycle (motorbike). It doesn’t have any upside down moments so this may not be thrilling enough for adrenaline junkies but I’ve been on it 3 times and have loved it every time.
The river rapids ride is a game of chance. Of the two times I went on, the first time only our shoes got wet. The second time, we were soaked. They don’t sell ponchos in the shops around the ride, however they sell them in the line just before you’re close to getting on. Otherwise, bring your own.
I think the park is lacking in over the top rides but it does have a range of rides suited for a variety of tastes.
There are some rides that are, of course, catered to the young audience with Honey Pots (spinning cups) and a cute Dumbo ride. A couple of rides are okay to take even younger children on, including the Pirates of the Caribbean one, if you can hold them.
Things to Remember
Most importantly… the park is in China. It’s aimed at the Chinese audience so shows are in Mandarin. There are park maps and time guides available in English and many safety announcements are in English too.
There is a range of food to eat catering to both western and eastern tastes. There are lots of vendors selling drinks and snacks, however some of the booths didn’t open until the afternoon. If you arrive in the morning it may take you a little longer to find somewhere to grab food from. I didn’t feel that the price was extortionate – definitely more expensive that local shops in China but certainly not bad for a theme park.
Merchandise shops are plentiful and carry nearly anything Disney themed that you would want. There is also one large Disney store before the gates of the park so even if you just head to Disneytown then you have a chance to see the huge range of goods on offer.
The toilets have both the normal squat toilets you would find in China, but further towards the back of the toilets you usually find the western sit down style.
Many of the rides were able to take disabled passengers, including Tron, which I thought was great. I would check on the official website for more information regarding this.
Outside of the actual park itself, is Disneytown which is free to roam around. This area is full of shops including a Lego store, a huge Disney store, restaurants (including a Cheesecake Factory), and some other shops.
This is also where you would go if you were planning on seeing the Lion King. Bear in mind that the Lion King, although it copies the Broadway show, is completely in Mandarin.
There is also a very large park near Disneytown which has a very large lake and lots of green spaces. It also has a good, although far away, view of the castle. When I went in the summer, anyone was free to go in – I’m not sure if that has changed. If you were planning on doing the park, please remember that you will spend around an hour walking all the way around it so take that into account when planning your day.
Well I hope this has been somewhat useful.
Feel free to send any questions this way and I can try and answer them for you.