Shanghai Disneyland is not just another Disneyland; it is a unique fusion of Disney magic with rich Chinese culture. Opened in 2016, it offers a one-of-a-kind experience that seamlessly blends the world of Disney with China’s vast cultural heritage. For families planning to visit this magnificent theme park, especially those with children, it’s crucial to have a reliable guide that demystifies the park’s vast offerings, ensuring that every member of the family has a magical experience.
Sprawled over 963 acres in the Pudong district of Shanghai, Shanghai Disneyland is the newest and one of the largest Disney parks in the world. Designed as a blend of the classic Disney formula and unique elements that cater to Chinese culture and traditions, it offers a magical experience different from any other Disney park.
As you walk through the gates, the iconic Enchanted Storybook Castle, the tallest and most unique of all Disney castles, will capture your attention. Unlike other Disney castles dedicated to a single princess, this one celebrates all of them, reflecting the spirit of inclusiveness and diversity that the park embodies.
The park is divided into six themed lands:
- Mickey Avenue: The entrance of the park, capturing the spirit of Walt Disney’s earliest characters.
- Gardens of Imagination: A serene space designed for contemplation, with bronze statues of the Chinese zodiac represented by Disney characters.
- Fantasyland: Home to the Enchanted Storybook Castle and many classic Disney rides.
- Adventure Isle: Where thrilling rides and ancient folklore come to life.
- Tomorrowland: A futuristic vision with rides like TRON Lightcycle Power Run.
- Treasure Cove: The first-ever pirate-themed land in any Disney park.
Preparing for Your Trip: Tips and Essentials
A successful trip to Shanghai Disneyland begins long before you set foot in the park. Preparation is crucial, especially when traveling with kids. From understanding visa requirements to packing the right essentials, there’s a lot to consider.
Firstly, familiarize yourself with the visa requirements for your country. Most tourists will need a visa to enter China, but there are exceptions. Make sure your passports are valid for at least six months beyond your planned stay.
Weather-wise, Shanghai has a humid subtropical climate. Summers (June to August) are hot and humid, with occasional rain, while winters (December to February) are cold but rarely see snow. It’s essential to pack accordingly.
When it comes to tickets, it’s recommended to purchase them in advance from the official Disneyland website or authorized agents. This not only saves time but also ensures you’re not caught up with any scams.
For families with young children, a stroller can be a lifesaver. While rentals are available at the park, bringing your own, especially one familiar to your child, might be more comfortable. Remember to tag your stroller with your contact information to avoid mix-ups.
Lastly, download the official Shanghai Disneyland app. It’s available in English and Chinese and is an invaluable tool for checking wait times, finding amenities, and planning your day.
Arriving in Shanghai: What to Expect
Stepping off the plane and into Shanghai, you’re immediately enveloped by the hustle and bustle of one of the world’s largest cities. With over 24 million residents, Shanghai is a vibrant metropolis, representing the best of both ancient traditions and modern innovations. For first-time visitors, especially those with kids in tow, the experience can be a little overwhelming. But fear not, for this chapter aims to streamline your arrival and ensure you embark on your Disneyland adventure with ease and confidence.
Navigating Shanghai’s Airports:
Shanghai is served by two major international airports: Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport (SHA). PVG is the primary international gateway, located about 30 kilometers east of the city center, and is the likely landing spot for most international travelers. SHA, on the other hand, primarily handles domestic flights and some short-haul international ones.
Upon landing, follow the clear signage to immigration. Make sure you have your passports, completed arrival cards (usually distributed on the plane), and visas ready. The immigration process can be lengthy during peak times, so it’s a good idea to keep some snacks handy for the kids. After clearing customs and collecting your baggage, proceed to the arrivals hall.
Transportation to the City Center and Disneyland:
- From PVG: The Maglev train is a popular and speedy option, reaching speeds of up to 431 km/h and connecting the airport to the city in just 8 minutes. Alternatively, you can opt for the metro (Line 2), taxis, or airport shuttles. If you’re headed straight to Disneyland, taxis might be the most convenient, though they are also the priciest.
- From SHA: The airport is well connected to the city by Metro Lines 2 and 10. Taxis and shuttles are also available.
Note: Always keep an eye on your belongings, and if opting for a taxi, ensure it’s a registered one. The fare should be metered, and it’s advisable to have your destination written in Chinese.
If you’re not staying at one of the Disneyland resorts, Shanghai offers a plethora of accommodation options ranging from luxury hotels to budget hostels. Key areas to consider for families include:
- The Bund: Iconic waterfront area with colonial-era buildings and stunning views of the city skyline.
- Pudong: The modern side of the city, characterized by its futuristic skyscrapers.
- Xintiandi: A pedestrian-friendly area with restored traditional homes, now housing cafes, shops, and boutiques.
When booking, consider amenities such as family-friendly services, proximity to public transportation, and breakfast options.
Getting Your Bearings – Essential Apps and Services:
With the stringent internet restrictions in China, some of the apps and services you rely on might not be accessible. To make your trip smoother:
- Download a VPN before arriving in China. This will allow you to bypass the “Great Firewall” and access sites like Google and Facebook.
- Have WeChat and Alipay installed. These are China’s leading messaging and payment apps, respectively. Many places, from big hotels to small vendors, accept payment through them.
- Download the Shanghai Metro app. It’s user-friendly and will make navigating the city’s extensive metro network a breeze.
- Maps: While Google Maps may not work without a VPN, consider alternatives like Baidu Maps or Maps.me.
Overcoming the Language Barrier:
While English is widely spoken in hotels and major tourist attractions, not everyone in Shanghai is fluent. To ease communication:
- Learn a few basic Mandarin phrases. Simple words like “hello” (nǐ hǎo) and “thank you” (xiè xiè) can go a long way.
- Use translation apps. Google Translate, with its camera function, can be invaluable. Just point your camera at Chinese text, and it translates in real-time.
- Have important addresses written in Chinese. This is particularly useful for taxis or when asking for directions.
Shanghai is a melting pot of cultures, but there are some traditional aspects that you might encounter:
- Queuing: The concept of standing in a queue is different. Don’t be surprised if you see people cutting in line; it’s not considered as impolite as it might be in Western cultures.
- Public Spitting: Older generations might occasionally spit in public. While it might be startling, it’s less common now, especially among the younger population.
- Toilets: Public restrooms might have squat toilets. Always carry some tissue with you, as not all public restrooms are stocked with toilet paper.
Prepping for Disneyland:
Before heading to the park, ensure:
- Tickets: Pre-booked tickets can be collected at the ticket counters. Remember, weekends and public holidays are peak times.
- Opening Hours: Check the park’s operating hours for the day you plan to visit.
- Bag Check: There’s a security check at the park entrance. Familiarize yourself with prohibited items to avoid any delays.
Your First Glimpse: Entering the Magic Kingdom
There’s a palpable sense of anticipation in the air as you approach the gates of Shanghai Disneyland. It’s that universal thrill familiar to anyone who has ever been on the cusp of a grand adventure. But this is not just any adventure; this is the Magic Kingdom, the stuff of childhood dreams and stories that have been passed down through generations.
As you make your way towards the entrance, the park’s grand scale becomes evident. The meticulously designed gardens, the statues, and the soft background melodies playing – everything is designed to transport you to a magical realm. If you’ve visited other Disneyland parks, you’ll instantly recognize the iconic Mickey-shaped floral arrangement, a photo hotspot and a delightful welcome to the park.
Ticketing and Entry:
For those who have pre-booked tickets, there are dedicated counters to collect them. Ensure you have a valid ID to match the name on the ticket. While the queues can be long, especially during peak times, they generally move quickly, with Disney staff (often referred to as ‘cast members’) efficiently managing the crowds. If you’ve opted for an electronic ticket, ensure your phone is charged, as you’ll need to display the QR code for scanning.
Once you’ve secured your tickets, you’ll proceed to the security checkpoint. Remember, certain items like glass containers and selfie sticks aren’t permitted. It’s advisable to review the list of prohibited items beforehand to ensure a smooth entry.
The moment you pass through the gates, the world outside fades away, and you’re immediately immersed in the enchantment of Disneyland. The attention to detail, from the cobblestone paths to the architecture, draws you in, inviting you to leave the everyday behind.
Mickey Avenue greets you as you enter. Unlike the traditional ‘Main Street U.S.A.’ found in other Disney parks, Mickey Avenue is distinctly unique to Shanghai Disneyland, offering a blend of Disney magic and Chinese culture. The street is lined with adorable storefronts, eateries, and boutiques. Be sure to glance up and around; the architecture and design details, from weathervanes to window displays, are filled with subtle nods to beloved Disney characters and stories.
One of the hallmarks of any Disney experience is meeting the characters, and your first opportunity often presents itself right on Mickey Avenue. Popular characters like Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy frequently make appearances here. A tip for families: character greetings are immensely popular, and queues can form quickly. If meeting characters is high on your list, consider prioritizing this early in the day.
Starting Your Adventure:
As you move further into the park, the iconic Enchanted Storybook Castle looms in the distance, serving as a central point of orientation. But before you head there, take a moment to strategize. Here are some things to consider:
- Park Map & Schedule: Ensure you grab a park map and entertainment schedule. They’re invaluable for planning your day, highlighting attractions, showtimes, dining options, and more.
- Prioritize Rides: While it’s tempting to rush to the nearest attraction, take a moment to decide which rides are a must-visit for your family. Popular rides can have long wait times, so plan accordingly.
- FastPass: Shanghai Disneyland operates a digital FastPass system. This allows you to reserve access to certain attractions, entertainment, and character meet and greets, reducing your wait time. The system is available through the official Shanghai Disneyland app. If you haven’t already, download the app, link your ticket, and start making your FastPass selections.
Embracing the Culinary Magic:
Even the food at Disneyland is designed to be an experience. As you explore Mickey Avenue, tantalizing aromas beckon from the various eateries. Whether you’re in the mood for a quick snack or a sit-down meal, there’s something for everyone.
- Remy’s Patisserie: Inspired by Pixar’s “Ratatouille,” this French bakery offers a delightful array of pastries, sandwiches, and beverages. Perfect for a quick breakfast or afternoon snack.
- Mickey & Pals Market Café: Serving Asian and Western dishes, this cafeteria-style eatery is great for families looking for a variety of options.
Disneyland is all about creating memories, and you’ll want to capture every magical moment. Throughout the park, you’ll find Disney PhotoPass photographers stationed at iconic spots, ready to snap high-quality photos of you and your family. You can later view and purchase these photos, ensuring that even the photographer in the family is part of the memories.
While it’s good to have a plan, some of the best Disneyland memories come from the unplanned moments. Maybe it’s stumbling upon a street performance, discovering a hidden nook perfect for resting tired feet, or the spontaneous decision to join a dance-along. Embrace the magic as it unfolds, and you’ll find that the park has a way of surprising you at every turn.
Disneyland Attractions Tailored for Kids
Shanghai Disneyland is a realm where magic, stories, and imagination come alive. While the park caters to visitors of all ages, there’s a special focus on the youngest members of the family. From gentle rides and interactive play areas to enchanting performances, there’s a trove of attractions specifically tailored for the little ones. This chapter will guide you through these magical experiences, ensuring your children’s visit to the kingdom is filled with wonder and delight.
Fantasyland: The Heart of Childhood Magic
Fantasyland stands as a testament to timeless tales and enchantment. With its iconic castle as the backdrop, this land is filled with attractions perfect for children.
- Hunny Pot Spin: Inspired by Winnie the Pooh, this delightful ride takes guests on a spinning journey inside giant honey pots. The pace is gentle enough for toddlers yet fun for older kids.
- Voyage to the Crystal Grotto: An enchanting boat ride that journeys beneath the Enchanted Storybook Castle, it showcases scenes from beloved Disney tales like “Aladdin,” “The Little Mermaid,” and “Tangled.”
- Peter Pan’s Flight: Soar over London and Neverland in this classic dark ride. The sensation of flying and the vibrant scenes below make this a hit with children.
Gardens of Imagination: Play, Wander, and Dream
As the name suggests, the Gardens of Imagination encourage little ones to let their imagination roam free.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant: A quintessential Disney experience, this gentle carousel-like ride offers children the thrill of ‘flying’ atop Dumbo, the beloved elephant.
- Fantasia Carousel: With its colorful steeds and whimsical music, this carousel, inspired by the Disney classic “Fantasia,” is always a hit with younger guests.
Treasure Cove: A Pirate’s Adventure
For the budding pirates in the family, Treasure Cove offers swashbuckling adventures.
- Shipwreck Shore: An interactive play area where kids can explore a shipwrecked pirate vessel, play with water cannons, and navigate through mazes.
- Explorer Canoes: While suitable for all ages, this canoe ride allows families to row together, exploring the waters of Treasure Cove. It’s a great way to bond and embark on a mini-adventure.
Toy Story Land: Where Toys Come to Life
Every child has dreamt of a world where their toys come alive. Toy Story Land brings this fantasy to life.
- Woody’s Round-Up: A spinning ride where kids can hop onto their favorite characters from Toy Story and whirl around to lively music.
- Slinky Dog Spin: Climb aboard Slinky Dog as he chases his tail around and around, making for a merry and light-hearted ride for the youngsters.
Interactive Entertainment and Shows
Beyond rides, Shanghai Disneyland offers an array of interactive experiences tailored for kids.
- “Tarzan: Call of the Jungle”: This live stage show in Adventure Isle is a mix of theatrics, acrobatics, and storytelling, bringing the tale of Tarzan to life in an engaging manner for kids.
- Character Meet and Greets: Throughout the park, various spots are dedicated to character encounters. From meeting princesses in Fantasyland to getting a high-five from Buzz Lightyear in Tomorrowland, these moments are often highlights for the little ones.
- Storybook Court: Located by the Enchanted Storybook Castle, this area hosts royal meet and greets. It’s a dream come true for children wishing to meet their favorite princes and princesses.
Must-Visit Rides for the Thrill Seekers
For many, the allure of theme parks goes beyond the magical ambiance and character encounters. It’s the heart-pounding, adrenaline-fueled attractions that call out to them, offering a combination of exhilarating speed, innovative technology, and masterful storytelling. Shanghai Disneyland doesn’t disappoint in this department, with a suite of rides designed specifically for the thrill-seekers among us. Let’s dive into these pulse-quickening experiences.
TRON Lightcycle Power Run (Tomorrowland)
Easily one of the most iconic attractions at Shanghai Disneyland, this high-speed roller coaster offers riders a unique experience, mimicking the sensation of riding a lightcycle from the movie TRON: Legacy.
- The Experience: Once you mount your lightcycle, brace yourself for a rapid acceleration, reaching top speeds as you navigate the neon-lit Grid. The combination of music, lighting, and the unique riding position make this a sensory feast.
- Tip: The queues for TRON can get extremely long. Consider using the park’s FastPass system or heading here first thing upon park opening.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure (Treasure Cove)
A groundbreaking take on the classic Pirates ride, this attraction employs cutting-edge technology and impressive visuals to immerse riders in the world of Captain Jack Sparrow and his pirate foes.
- The Experience: Board a boat and journey through various scenes that blend animatronics, digital projections, and physical sets. While not a traditional ‘thrill’ ride in terms of speed, the technological marvel and the level of immersion make it a must-visit.
- Tip: Don’t rush out as soon as the ride ends. The intricate details in the exit area, designed to look like a Caribbean island town, are worth exploring.
Roaring Rapids (Adventure Isle)
For those who enjoy a wet and wild adventure, Roaring Rapids promises just that, with a dash of mystery and an encounter with a fearsome creature.
- The Experience: Venture into the heart of Adventure Isle on a large raft, navigating turbulent waters, dark caverns, and coming face-to-face with Q’aráq, a mysterious water creature that resides deep within the mountain.
- Tip: You will get wet, possibly soaked. Consider wearing a poncho or carrying a change of clothes. Also, utilize the free lockers nearby to store your belongings.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Fantasyland)
While primarily a family ride, the innovative trackless system and whimsical storytelling make this attraction enjoyable even for thrill-seekers.
- The Experience: Embark on a honey-laden journey with Winnie the Pooh, navigating scenes that are both delightful and chaotic, especially when the Heffalumps and Woozles make an appearance.
- Tip: The trackless system means each ride can offer a slightly different experience. Consider riding it more than once!
Soaring Over the Horizon (Adventure Isle)
This flight simulator ride offers an exhilarating journey, soaring over some of the world’s most iconic landmarks and natural wonders.
- The Experience: Strap in and feel the sensation of flight as your feet dangle and you’re lifted into a dome projection. The combination of movement, scents, and visuals create a believable flying experience, from the plains of Africa to the Great Wall of China.
- Tip: If you’re prone to motion sickness, you might want to skip this one. For the best view, aim for a seat in the center.
Rex’s Racer (Toy Story Land)
This U-shaped track ride provides a delightful dose of adrenaline as you’re propelled forwards and backwards, reaching significant heights.
- The Experience: Join Rex and Trixie as you go on a thrilling back-and-forth race, feeling the wind rush past you with each rapid ascent and descent.
- Tip: Though the ride might appear intimidating, it’s relatively gentle and can be a great ‘starter’ thrill ride for those looking to build their courage.
Camp Discovery Challenge Trails (Adventure Isle)
While not a ride in the traditional sense, these challenge trails offer plenty of thrills for those seeking adventure.
- The Experience: Equipped with a safety harness, navigate a series of obstacle courses suspended high above the ground. From swaying bridges to rocky ledges, it’s both a physical challenge and a test of courage.
- Tip: Wear comfortable shoes and be prepared for a bit of a wait, as the number of guests allowed on the trails is limited.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Fantasyland)
This roller coaster offers a mix of gentle storytelling and thrilling drops, perfect for those looking for moderate thrills.
- The Experience: Journey into the mines with the Seven Dwarfs, experiencing both serene moments as you witness their gem-collecting antics and adrenaline-packed ones as you navigate drops and turns.
- Tip: The attraction is beautifully lit up at night, making for a different and enchanting experience.
Dining in Disneyland: Best Spots for Families
Feeding your family during a park visit isn’t merely a logistical necessity—it’s a crucial part of the Disney experience. From themed restaurants and gourmet offerings to quick bites and character dining, Shanghai Disneyland offers a plethora of dining options tailored for families. In this chapter, we’ll walk you through some of the best spots to satisfy every palate and make your mealtime memorable.
Royal Banquet Hall (Fantasyland)
Atmosphere: Located within the magnificent Enchanted Storybook Castle, the Royal Banquet Hall offers an upscale dining experience fit for a prince or princess. With rich decor and a regal ambiance, this is a place where families can dine in true fairy tale style.
Menu Highlights: Families can savor an international gourmet menu, with dishes like roasted duck, seafood platter, and beef tenderloin.
Special Feature: A character dining experience where Disney royalty, such as Cinderella, Prince Charming, and other favorites, make appearances, allowing your children to meet and greet as they dine.
Tangled Tree Tavern (Fantasyland)
Atmosphere: Inspired by the animated classic Tangled, this restaurant is designed as a snug, charming tavern where Rapunzel and Flynn Rider might have stopped for a meal.
Menu Highlights: Satisfy your hunger with selections like braised beef, hearty stews, and an array of mouth-watering desserts.
Special Feature: Keep an eye out for intricate details related to the movie, from Rapunzel’s pan to Flynn Rider’s satchel.
Barbosa’s Bounty (Treasure Cove)
Atmosphere: Set within a seaside fort, this pirate-themed restaurant offers breathtaking views of the Pirates of the Caribbean ride and the surrounding Treasure Cove.
Menu Highlights: Indulge in a feast worthy of a pirate crew with options like roasted chicken, seafood skewers, and tropical salads.
Special Feature: Don’t be surprised if you spot Captain Jack Sparrow swaggering about; he’s known to make impromptu visits!
Toy Box Café (Toy Story Land)
Atmosphere: Everything here is oversized, making guests feel as though they’ve shrunk down to the size of a toy. The colorful and playful setting is a big hit with younger kids.
Menu Highlights: Enjoy fun, kid-friendly fare like alien mozzarella sticks, green alien slush, and Slinky Dog spinach and mushroom pastry.
Special Feature: The outdoor seating area offers a great vantage point to watch the excitement of Toy Story Land unfold.
Wandering Moon Teahouse (Gardens of Imagination)
Atmosphere: Drawing inspiration from Chinese culture and folklore, the Wandering Moon Teahouse is a serene spot, perfect for families seeking a quieter dining experience.
Menu Highlights: Dive into authentic Chinese cuisine with dishes like Peking duck, dim sum platter, and sweet and sour pork.
Special Feature: The teahouse overlooks a beautiful lotus pond, providing a peaceful backdrop for your meal.
Remy’s Patisserie (Mickey Avenue)
Atmosphere: Inspired by the Parisian setting of Ratatouille, this bakery and cafe is a delightful spot to grab a quick snack or breakfast.
Menu Highlights: Relish pastries like croissants, tarts, and muffins, or go for the hearty sandwiches and freshly brewed coffee.
Special Feature: The decor subtly hints at the movie’s protagonist, Remy, with tiny paw prints leading a trail and other hidden details for sharp-eyed fans.
Tribal Table (Adventure Isle)
Atmosphere: Reflecting the adventurous spirit of Adventure Isle, Tribal Table is an open-air eatery nestled amidst lush greenery.
Menu Highlights: A mix of Asian flavors awaits, with dishes like stir-fried noodles, grilled skewers, and spicy curries.
Special Feature: The communal seating is ideal for larger families or those looking to strike up a conversation with fellow adventurers.
Pinocchio Village Kitchen (Fantasyland)
Atmosphere: Walk into a charming Italian trattoria straight out of the world of Pinocchio, with wood-carved details and rustic charm.
Menu Highlights: Delight in Italian favorites like pizza, pasta, and gelato. The margherita pizza and seafood linguini are crowd-pleasers.
Special Feature: The walls are adorned with murals depicting scenes from Pinocchio, making it a visual treat for fans of the classic tale.
Tips for a Smooth Dining Experience:
- Reservations: Popular spots like the Royal Banquet Hall can get booked up quickly. Consider making a reservation well in advance, especially during peak times.
- Meal Plans: Shanghai Disneyland offers meal plan options that can be both cost-effective and convenient for families.
- Dietary Restrictions: If someone in your group has dietary restrictions or allergies, inform the staff. The park is accommodating and will often provide alternatives or guidance.
- Stay Hydrated: With all the excitement, it’s easy to forget to drink water. Carry a reusable water bottle, and refill it at the numerous water stations throughout the park.
- Snack Wisely: The park offers numerous kiosks selling snacks from popcorn (with unique flavors like caramel and seaweed.
Shows, Parades, and Nightly Entertainment
A visit to Shanghai Disneyland is so much more than just rides and attractions. The mesmerizing shows, dynamic parades, and breathtaking nightly entertainment amplify the magic, ensuring memories that last a lifetime. Let’s delve into these enchanting experiences and make sure you don’t miss out on any of the sparkling spectacle.
Tarzan: Call of the Jungle (Adventure Isle)
Description: This spectacular stage show combines contemporary dance, aerial acrobatics, and dramatic storytelling to reenact Tarzan’s jungle adventures.
Details: Hosted in the Theatre in the Wild, this 30-minute performance showcases impressive choreography, set designs, and heart-stirring music. The bond between Tarzan and Jane is beautifully illustrated, making it a hit with both children and adults.
Tips: Arrive at least 20 minutes early to secure a good seat. The middle section offers the best view of all the aerial acrobatics.
Golden Fairytale Fanfare (Enchanted Storybook Castle)
Description: This daytime castle show celebrates some of Disney’s most beloved princess stories, including Mulan, Tangled, Frozen, and more.
Details: Set against the magnificent backdrop of the Enchanted Storybook Castle, this show boasts grand stage setups, colorful costumes, and catchy musical numbers. The 20-minute performance is a visual treat and provides excellent photo opportunities.
Tips: Stand further back from the stage for a full view of the castle, allowing for the best photos, especially when characters take the higher platforms.
Mickey’s Storybook Express (Throughout the Park)
Description: This daytime parade travels throughout the park, bringing a cavalcade of characters, dancers, and music to the guests.
Details: The parade features intricately designed floats representing various Disney movies. From the icy charm of Frozen to the desert landscapes of Aladdin, it’s a visual and musical journey through the world of Disney.
Tips: To secure a good viewing spot, especially in front of the castle or along Mickey Avenue, aim to stake out your position about 30 minutes before the parade starts.
Captain Jack Sparrow’s Stunt Spectacular (Treasure Cove)
Description: Join Captain Jack and his crew in this action-packed show, filled with humor, sword fights, and a splash of piracy!
Details: This interactive 25-minute show takes place in the El Teatro Fandango and showcases impressive stunts and hilarious antics that engage the audience throughout.
Tips: The first few rows might get a ‘splash’ from the action, so if you’d prefer to stay dry, consider sitting further back.
Ignite the Dream: A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light (Enchanted Storybook Castle)
Description: This is Shanghai Disneyland’s signature nighttime show. The Enchanted Storybook Castle transforms through projections, lasers, fireworks, and music into a beacon of dreams.
Details: The show spans various Disney tales, projecting iconic scenes onto the castle. Paired with a moving score and punctuated with fireworks, it’s a fitting end to a day of magic.
Tips: For the best experience, find a spot in front of the castle around 45 minutes before the show starts. A central location will provide the best view of all the projections and fireworks.
Club Destin-E at Tomorrowland
Description: This futuristic dance party gets visitors grooving to the beat with popular tracks, neon lights, and appearances by beloved Disney characters in their futuristic outfits.
Details: Located in Tomorrowland, this evening entertainment option allows guests to dance, play, and interact with characters in a way that’s rarely possible elsewhere in the park.
Tips: Wear comfortable shoes, and let loose! This is a perfect opportunity for families to dance together and have a blast.
Frozen: A Sing-Along Celebration (Fantasyland)
Description: Warm up your vocal cords and join Elsa, Anna, and friends in a heartwarming sing-along set in the world of Frozen.
Details: Hosted in the Evergreen Playhouse, this interactive show invites guests to sing along to the hit songs from the movie, including the ever-popular “Let It Go.” Enhanced with magical effects and live performances, it’s a treat for Frozen fans.
Tips: Due to the show’s popularity, consider arriving early, especially during peak seasons or weekends.
Disney Jungle River Cruise: Nighttime Voyage (Adventure Isle)
Description: As night falls, the Jungle River takes on a mysterious charm, highlighted in this special nighttime cruise.
Details: Enhanced with lighting and nighttime effects, the cruise offers a different experience than its daytime counterpart, complete with nocturnal sounds, hidden creatures, and an atmospheric aura.
Tips: As this attraction is outdoors, it may be affected by weather conditions. Always check the day’s schedule or consult a park employee.
Meeting Mickey and Friends: Character Encounters
For many guests, especially the younger ones, a trip to Shanghai Disneyland wouldn’t be complete without meeting their favorite Disney characters. The gleam in a child’s eye when they hug Mickey, the joy of dancing with Donald, or the awe of seeing Elsa in real life is priceless. This chapter is dedicated to helping you navigate these magical encounters and ensuring that you get the most out of these memorable moments.
Mickey Avenue: The Heart of Character Meet and Greets
Description: Mickey Avenue is the first area guests enter in Shanghai Disneyland, and it’s bustling with character encounters. From classic characters like Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto to some of the newer faces, this vibrant street sets the tone for a day filled with magic.
Tips: Morning hours are generally less crowded, making it an ideal time for character photos. Keep an eye out for spontaneous character appearances, as they might pop out of the shops or parade down the street.
Meet the Princesses at the Enchanted Storybook Castle
Description: The castle is not just a sight to behold; it’s also where many of the Disney princesses greet their royal guests. From Snow White and Cinderella to Mulan and Merida, the castle offers a regal backdrop for these encounters.
Tips: The queues to meet the princesses can be long, especially during peak hours. Consider visiting during off-peak times, such as early morning or late afternoon. Don’t forget to ask the princesses about their adventures; they love sharing their tales!
Toy Story Land: Playtime with Woody and Buzz
Description: Step into Andy’s backyard and get ready for a playful encounter. Here, guests can meet Woody, Buzz Lightyear, Jessie, and other Toy Story characters in their larger-than-life settings.
Tips: Since Toy Story Land is outdoors, character appearances might be affected by weather. It’s also a good idea to check the day’s schedule for character greeting times.
Marvel Universe in Tomorrowland
Description: For superhero fans, Tomorrowland is the place to be. Get ready to meet Iron Man, Spider-Man, Thor, and other Marvel superheroes, all waiting to recruit you for some superhero action.
Tips: Some characters, like Iron Man, might have interactive experiences. Participate actively and immerse yourself in the Marvel Universe.
Garden of the Twelve Friends
Description: A unique attraction to Shanghai Disneyland, this garden showcases the Chinese Zodiac using Disney and Pixar characters. While this is primarily a display area, there are occasional character encounters.
Tips: The garden offers fantastic photo opportunities, even if you don’t encounter a live character. The beautifully detailed mosaics make for a great backdrop.
Tribal Character Encounters in Adventure Isle
Description: Adventure Isle is home to some unique characters. From the tribal warriors of the Isle to Baloo and King Louie from The Jungle Book, these encounters are filled with energy and fun.
Tips: Join in the dances and activities. The more involved you are, the more memorable the encounter will be.
Fantasyland: A Dreamland of Characters
Description: As the heart of the fairy tales, Fantasyland is bustling with characters. From the Winnie the Pooh characters in the Hundred Acre Wood to the mischievous inhabitants of Neverland, it’s a character enthusiast’s dream.
Tips: Check the schedule for the “Storybook Express,” a mini parade in Fantasyland, which often leads to surprise character encounters.
Preparation Tips for Character Encounters:
- Autograph Book: Carry an autograph book and a pen. Most characters will happily sign, providing a cherished keepsake.
- Camera Ready: Have your camera or phone ready for quick snapshots. While there are official photographers at many character spots, having your own camera ensures you don’t miss spontaneous moments.
- Character Dining: Consider booking a character dining experience. The Royal Banquet Hall, for instance, combines gourmet meals with character encounters, ensuring you meet the royalty without the usual queues.
- Dress the Part: Little ones dressed as their favorite characters often get extra attention during meet and greets.
- Ask Questions: Interact with the characters. Ask Ariel about her underwater adventures, or discuss archery techniques with Merida. These interactions make for memorable encounters.
- Know the Lingo: Remember, characters stay in their storylines. If you meet Peter Pan, he’s never heard of a smartphone, and Ariel might be curious about those “gizmos and gadgets” you’re carrying.
- Use the Disneyland App: The official app often has real-time updates on character appearances, ensuring you don’t miss out on any surprise visits.
Meeting Disney characters is more than just a photo opportunity; it’s a chance to step into a story, to relive childhood memories, and to create new ones. Whether you’re giggling with Olaf about summer or strategizing superhero moves with Captain America, these moments breathe life into the stories that have enchanted us on screen.
Navigating the Park: From Adventure Isle to Tomorrowland
Navigating a theme park as expansive as Shanghai Disneyland can be both exciting and overwhelming. With diverse lands, countless attractions, and a myriad of experiences awaiting you, having a strategy in place can significantly enhance your experience. In this chapter, we guide you through the park, from the thrilling landscapes of Adventure Isle to the futuristic wonders of Tomorrowland, ensuring you make the most of your magical journey.
Overview: A wild and untamed land, Adventure Isle transports guests to a forgotten world filled with dense jungles, hidden treasures, and mysterious tribes.
- Roaring Rapids: A thrilling river rapids ride that offers both adventure and a chance to cool off.
- Soaring Over the Horizon: A breathtaking flying adventure that takes guests over some of the world’s most iconic landscapes.
Tips: Start your day with Soaring Over the Horizon as it’s immensely popular and queues can get lengthy. Also, consider packing a waterproof poncho for Roaring Rapids to stay dry.
Overview: The heart of every Disney park, Fantasyland in Shanghai Disneyland is where fairy tales come to life, from classic stories like Peter Pan and Snow White to newer tales like Tangled and Frozen.
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: A family-friendly roller coaster that combines thrilling turns with engaging animatronics.
- Voyage to the Crystal Grotto: A serene boat ride showcasing some of Disney’s most beloved stories.
Tips: Fantasyland is often busy, so consider utilizing FastPass options for popular attractions. Don’t miss the enchanted storybook castle, the largest Disney castle, which also houses a walk-through attraction showcasing Snow White’s story.
Gardens of Imagination
Overview: A serene, beautifully landscaped area perfect for relaxation and offering panoramic views of the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
- Dumbo the Flying Elephant: A classic Disney ride, suitable for all ages.
- Fantasia Carousel: A whimsical merry-go-round set to the tunes of Fantasia.
Tips: This area is perfect for downtime and offers several shaded spots ideal for picnics. It’s also a prime location for watching parades and nighttime shows.
Overview: A vision of the future, Tomorrowland combines cutting-edge technology with the magic of space and imagination.
- TRON Lightcycle Power Run: A high-speed roller coaster that simulates the thrill of riding a lightcycle from the TRON movies.
- Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue: A fun, interactive shooting game where guests help Buzz save the universe.
Tips: TRON Lightcycle Power Run is one of the park’s most popular rides, so either ride it first thing in the morning or use a FastPass. If visiting with younger kids, the nearby Stitch Encounter offers a light-hearted interactive show.
Overview: Dive into the world of pirates and explore the Caribbean’s hidden secrets in this nautical-themed land.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure: A revolutionary boat ride combining animatronics, projections, and physical sets.
- Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular: A live-action show filled with swashbuckling stunts and humor.
Tips: The Pirates of the Caribbean ride in Shanghai is unlike any other Disney park, making it a must-visit. Also, the nearby Barbossa’s Bounty offers delicious meals in a pirate-themed setting.
Toy Story Land
Overview: Step into Andy’s backyard and experience the world from a toy’s perspective in this playful land.
- RC Racer: A U-shaped track offering thrilling highs and lows.
- Slinky Dog Spin: A family-friendly spinning ride that’s perfect for younger visitors.
Tips: Toy Story Land can get particularly sunny, so it’s best visited during the cooler parts of the day. The land also features a variety of character meet-and-greets, so keep an eye out for Woody, Buzz, and the gang.
Park Navigation Tips:
- Use the Official App: Shanghai Disneyland’s official app provides real-time updates on wait times, show schedules, and character appearances, making it an invaluable tool.
- Stay Hydrated and Wear Comfortable Clothing: The park is expansive, and there’s a lot of walking involved. Dress comfortably, wear sunscreen, and keep a refillable water bottle handy.
- Plan Your Day: While spontaneity has its charm, having a rough itinerary helps in covering major attractions. Prioritize must-visit rides and shows, and build your day around them.
- Be Flexible: Sometimes, rides break down, or weather can disrupt plans. Stay flexible and have backup options.
- Take Breaks: There are numerous quiet spots throughout the park, from the Gardens of Imagination to the peaceful alcoves in Adventure Isle. Use these to rest, refuel, and recharge.
Staying Overnight: Resorts and Accommodations
One of the hallmarks of a complete Disney experience is spending a night (or several) at one of their on-site resorts. Not only does this provide convenient access to the park, but it also immerses guests in the Disney magic around the clock. Shanghai Disneyland offers a choice of spectacular accommodations that cater to various preferences and budgets. In this chapter, we’ll explore these options in-depth, helping you choose the best fit for your family’s fairy-tale stay.
Shanghai Disneyland Hotel
Overview: This is the flagship hotel of Shanghai Disneyland. With its Art Nouveau design and elegant details, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is a luxurious experience, offering breathtaking views of the park and Wishing Star Lake.
- Enchanted Storybook Castle Suite: A one-of-a-kind suite providing panoramic views of the park.
- Aurora Restaurant: Savor gourmet meals with a Disney twist while overlooking the serene Wishing Star Lake.
- Indoor pool: Designed with a whimsical Little Mermaid theme.
Tips: If you’re celebrating a special occasion, consider booking the Magic Kingdom Club rooms for exclusive benefits, including a private lounge and personalized concierge service. This hotel also offers regular water taxis to the park, adding a touch of magic to your commute.
Toy Story Hotel
Overview: This is a vibrant, family-friendly hotel inspired by the beloved Toy Story movies. The design makes guests feel as though they’ve been shrunk down to the size of a toy, ensuring fun and laughter from the moment they step in.
- Andy’s Room: A spacious, themed suite that replicates the room of Andy from the Toy Story movies.
- Lotso Shop: A unique store offering exclusive Toy Story merchandise.
- Sunnyside Café: A delightful eatery serving both Chinese and Western dishes.
Tips: This hotel is an excellent choice for families with younger children, thanks to its playful atmosphere and interactive elements. Don’t forget to take a stroll in the garden at night, where larger-than-life toy figures are illuminated, creating a magical ambiance.
Nearby Partner Hotels
While the two primary Disney hotels offer an immersive experience, Shanghai Disneyland also has a range of nearby partner hotels. These provide a variety of accommodations, from budget-friendly options to luxury suites.
Tips: When booking a partner hotel, always check for shuttle services to the park. Many of these hotels offer free or discounted transport, ensuring a hassle-free start to your Disney adventure.
Making the Most of Your Hotel Stay:
- Early Park Access: Staying on-site often provides the benefit of ‘Magic Hours,’ allowing guests to enter the park before the general public. This is an excellent opportunity to experience popular attractions without the usual crowds.
- Character Dining: Both Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel offer character dining experiences. Enjoy a delicious meal as beloved Disney characters make surprise appearances, providing photo ops and unforgettable memories.
- Themed Activities: The hotels frequently host themed activities, especially for younger guests. From arts and crafts sessions inspired by Disney movies to storytelling hours with classic tales, there’s always something to keep the little ones entertained.
- Exclusive Merchandise: The on-site hotels often have shops selling exclusive merchandise not available elsewhere. Whether it’s a limited-edition pin or a unique plush toy, these souvenirs make for cherished mementos of your stay.
- Recreational Facilities: Both hotels offer an array of recreational facilities. Whether you fancy a swim in the themed pools, a workout in the state-of-the-art gym, or a relaxing spa session, there’s something for everyone.
- Guest Services: The on-site guest services are exceptional. Whether you need help with park tickets, dining reservations, or simply advice on planning your park day, the friendly staff are always eager to assist.
Budgeting for Your Stay:
Staying on-site at a Disney hotel can be pricier than off-site accommodations. However, the convenience, added benefits, and immersive experience often justify the cost. Here’s how you can budget effectively:
- Plan Ahead: Booking in advance often fetches better deals, especially during off-peak seasons.
- Package Deals: Look for package deals that bundle hotel stays with park tickets or dining plans. These can offer significant savings.
- Stay Duration: While it might be tempting to book a prolonged stay, sometimes, even one night at a Disney hotel can be enough to get a taste of the magic.
Staying overnight at Shanghai Disneyland’s resorts transforms a park visit into a holistic Disney experience. The attention to detail, immersive themes, and exceptional guest services ensure that the magic doesn’t end when the park gates close. By choosing the right accommodation and making the most of the on-site benefits, you can weave memories that last a lifetime, making your Disney adventure truly enchanting from dawn to dusk and beyond.
Nearby Attractions: Exploring the Rest of Shanghai
While the allure of Shanghai Disneyland is undeniably magnetic, it’s worth noting that beyond its enchanted gates lies a city brimming with history, culture, and modern marvels. Shanghai, China’s largest city, offers a fusion of the ancient and the ultramodern. For those extending their trip beyond the confines of the theme park, the city has a plethora of attractions to explore. In this chapter, we’ll journey through the bustling streets of Shanghai, guiding you to some of its most iconic sites and hidden gems.
Overview: Known as the city’s iconic waterfront, The Bund provides a visual journey through Shanghai’s history. It offers a stunning contrast between the colonial-era buildings on one side of the Huangpu River and the futuristic skyline of the Pudong district on the other.
- Historic Buildings: The Bund houses 52 buildings of various architectural styles, including Gothic, Romanesque, and Renaissance.
- Nighttime Views: When illuminated, both sides of the river offer a mesmerizing light show. A nighttime river cruise is a recommended experience.
Tips: The area can get crowded, especially during weekends. For a more tranquil experience, consider visiting during early mornings.
Overview: A classical Chinese garden located in the Old City of Shanghai, Yuyuan Garden is a peaceful haven amidst the urban hustle. Established in 1559, the garden features traditional pavilions, winding paths, serene ponds, and intricate rockeries.
- Dragon Wall: This iconic wall with a dragon motif is a popular photo spot.
- Bridge of Nine Turnings: A zigzagging bridge designed to ward off evil spirits.
Tips: After exploring the garden, take some time to stroll through the nearby Yuyuan Bazaar for souvenirs and traditional snacks.
Overview: As China’s tallest building and the second tallest in the world, the Shanghai Tower is a marvel of modern architecture and engineering. With 128 stories, it offers panoramic views of the sprawling city below.
- Observation Deck: Located on the 118th floor, this is the world’s highest observation deck, offering unparalleled views.
- Tuned Mass Damper: A massive pendulum that helps the building withstand typhoons and earthquakes.
Tips: Purchase tickets in advance, especially if visiting during peak tourist seasons, to avoid long waits.
Overview: An artsy enclave nestled within the historic French Concession, Tianzifang is a labyrinth of narrow alleys filled with art studios, boutique shops, and quirky cafes.
- Art Galleries: From contemporary art to traditional Chinese pieces, the galleries in Tianzifang are a treat for art enthusiasts.
- Unique Souvenirs: The boutiques here offer handcrafted items that can’t be found elsewhere in the city.
Tips: While the area retains its historical charm, it can be a bit commercialized. Venture deeper into the alleys to discover hidden gems.
Jade Buddha Temple
Overview: Established in 1882, the Jade Buddha Temple is an active Buddhist monastery and one of Shanghai’s few active Buddhist temples. It’s renowned for its two jade Buddha statues, which were imported from Burma.
- Sitting Buddha: A three-meter-high statue adorned with semi-precious stones.
- Reclining Buddha: A smaller statue representing Buddha’s death.
Tips: Being a place of worship, it’s essential to dress modestly and respect the temple’s customs. Also, consider timing your visit to partake in the serene chanting sessions.
Overview: Stretching over 5 kilometers, Nanjing Road is one of the world’s busiest shopping streets. Whether you’re hunting for luxury brands or local goods, this pedestrian street has something for everyone.
- Shopping: From global brands to local handicrafts, the shopping options are vast.
- Street Performers: Local artists often put on impromptu performances, adding to the area’s vibrant atmosphere.
Tips: While shopping, be wary of pickpockets. Also, many stores are open to bargaining, so don’t hesitate to haggle for a better deal.
Exploring Beyond the Main Attractions:
Shanghai is a city of endless exploration. Beyond the main attractions:
- Local Cuisine: Dive into the culinary scene by trying local delicacies like xiaolongbao (soup dumplings), shengjianbao (pan-fried buns), and scallion oil noodles.
- Hidden Bars: The city boasts an exciting nightlife with speakeasies and rooftop bars offering innovative cocktails with views.
- Art and Culture: The M50 Art District and Long Museum provide insight into China’s burgeoning contemporary art scene.
Wrapping up your day at Shanghai Disneyland isn’t just about the tangible mementos you carry home. It’s about the intangible memories etched into your heart, the stories you’ll narrate, and the wonder you’ll recount. Every photo taken, every souvenir bought, and every goodbye whispered is but a promise of more adventures to come.
As Walt Disney once said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world.” Similarly, your journey, though concluded for now, is never truly over. With every retelling of your tales, every glance at your souvenirs, and every memory you cherish, you’re transported back, ensuring that the magic of Shanghai Disneyland lives on, waiting for your inevitable return.