I thought I would post some thoughts on Shanghai Disney. I have only been to WDW and Anaheim, so this was my first time to a Disney park outside of the US.
Do not go in summer. It is a freaking greenhouse, thanks to the AQI. Hot enough to suck your soul out. There are air-conditioned spots – but then you have to walk through the miasmic torture to get to them. If you go, arrive at opening, leave at 11:00a, come back at 5:00p. Staying at the Disneyland Hotel makes this strategy work really well, because it is just a boat ride away. (Below picture is from the club level lounge, looking across the water to the park.). We stayed in the club-level, which was quite nice. They have a buffet breakfast, tea service and then cocktails with snacks in the evening. They also do a bedtime service for kids, I think with a storybook and cookies and milk, but we did not do that so cannot really comment.
That being said about the heat, absolutely gorgeous park. We heard from an insider that there is a Toy Story Land being worked on. There is a ton of room to expand, honestly. There were signs talking about an exhibition hall or something by the Tron roller coaster as well.
The Chinese seem to enjoy wandering in parks rather than riding rides, so just know that there are not a lot of rides. There is a carousel and then the hunny pot spin, but then there is also a really neat pirate playground and the Alice in Wonderland maze, which I would have enjoyed much more if it were not so hot. Also, you cannot go in when it is dark, but it is all lit up and pretty!
Tron roller coaster is awesome, but would have been nice if it were longer. The new Pirates ride is awesome. Snow White walk through is cool and definitely indicative of the Chinese love for that particular princess. You do have to walk up multiple sets of stairs, however, and I could not tell if there was elevator access. Remember that most countries do not have laws regarding handicapped accessibility. It uses the digital screen technology and is kind of like the Belle interactive story to some extent, at least the part in Maurice’s workshop. No live-action interaction.
Stitch encounter is much cooler if you know Chinese. (But literally cooler because it is in air-conditioning.). The Stitch encounter uses the same technology as the Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot, but it is a much bigger space, slightly different format. Seems like Stitch’s viewing distance is longer, kids are asked to sit in the front.
Chinese are getting better at customer service but we still had some issues. (We live in China so we are kind of used to Chinese rudeness and lack of customer service.). Our rented Disney strollers were stolen from where they were parked by a store and re-rented by an entrepreneur at the front of the park. We reported it, of course, and they (customer service) were very blasé about it. They (the entrepreneur) dumped the items we had on top of them, so lost some things there. If it had happened at WDW… Well, it wouldn’t have happened. Shanghai Disneyland does not have cast members or security observing things, you can walk for a bit and not see any cast members so there is definitely some work that needs to be done if they want to bring it up to WDW standards. The entrepeneur had like five strollers he had picked up and he tried to re-rent one to my husband! I mean, his gall was incredible! And Disney did nothing about it. Definitely not at the level of the US parks.
If you go, stay at the Disneyland Hotel. It is right across, a boat ride away. Very convenient. Absolutely beautiful hotel. I did get food poisoning, and they argued with Lee about where I got it (last day, we had been there three days, there was nowhere else I COULD have gotten it) but they did arrange a “western” hospital visit for me, transported me there and took me back. They had the driver checking in on me during the visit, which ended up with me on an IV for several hours. I also got a metric ton of drugs to take with me and a lecture about “eating foreign foods”. The doctor was Chinese, there was a Chinese nurse who spoke English who translated.
I am pretty sure I got the food poisoning from the castle character dinner. Service was excruciatingly slow between courses. But character interactions were great. It was King Mickey and his royal court of Princess Minnie and Daisy and Duke Donald or whatever. One photo pass for a meeting with Aurora when we arrived, similar to the photo with Cinderella at … Cinderella’s and the one with Belle at Akershus. We also ordered a birthday cake for our daughter. We would not do this again.
We still have not figured out how to get our pictures off of the app, and we also had pre-ordered it and did not get adequate information on it. Similar to WDW you get a card from the photo pass photographers that has your picture data on it. If you order it, you should get a special card that will automatically include pictures at higher quality than if you use the cards from the photographers. Unfortunately, that was not conveyed to us in a very informative manner so we had to go to one of the Photopass places to get them to realign our account, or something, because the cards that they give you are low-resolution unless you have the “special card”. Anyway, it was very confusing and, again, not conveyed very well. Just be warned in advance.
I would recommend Lumiere’s over the castle. Lumiere’s is in the hotel and characters are for lunch and breakfast. Mickey, Minnie, Goofy and Pluto. There is a photo pass photographer there to take pictures that follows the characters around, which was super cool. (If only we could get our pictures off of it.)
The park is HUGE. And not a lot of shade. Generally cheaper than the US parks. Most of the food is Chinese, of course, but there are some Western offerings. I got a Minnie doll in a Chinese dress and a matching Minnie ears set. Their new Minnie line is super cute.
Largest Disney store in the world in Disneytown, which is literally steps away from Disneyland. We didn’t even go through all of it. Heck, we didn’t even go through all of Disneyland because it was so hot, but we did hit the unique-to-Shanghai rides. Skipped Soaring, because it is now at WDW and we’ll be going there in 2017, and the 7 Dwarves Mine Train is a clone that we have already gone on. The new digital screen stuff is amazing – Peter Pan was nicely updated and I have already mentioned how much I liked Pirates and Tron.
We also did the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique with the girls and I am guessing it was a far better experience than it would have been in the US. Fairly empty, my two girls got lots of attention. They had a neat green screen room where they took pictures of the girls and could put different castle backgrounds and whatever on them. I am intrigued by their “storybook” option and wonder if they will bring that to the US ones. (Basically, they can have your child re-enact one of the princess’ stories and they put all of the backdrops from that story on the green screen and her. Really cool. I saw some pages from Cinderella’s book and they put the sparkles on the little girl like the fairy godmother was changing her dress.). Kind of pricey, of course, but Chinese prices seem to be lower overall, compared to the US.
I know this might be silly, but one of the best things was that there are NO CURBS. So if you have strollers or wheelchairs you don’t have to worry about finding ramps. There are differences in the streets when you transfer between lands, but they are all level. It is fantastic.
I recommend going, it is definitely cool, but for deities’ sakes… Do not go during summer.