Visiting all the Disney parks in the world is on my bucket list, and so far, I’ve conquered all but 2 – if anyone wants to sponsor flight tickets to LA or Paris, I’d be eternally grateful – anyway, fair warning, this post is going to be chock full of pictures, given that I’m an extreme Disney addict and am trigger happy.
My family are Disney veterans, so we planned our trip such that we would visit Disneyland on at least 1 weekday, so we could enjoy taking the rides with no queues. Ideally, if your schedule permits, plan your Disney trip on Tues/Wed/Thurs as opposed to other days, because the queue times will always be significantly shorter (10 minute wait time on average vs 40 minutes on weekends/Fridays).
And in typical ‘kiasu’ fashion, we showed up at 7.30am, although the park only opens at 8.00am. But it turns out that everyone else had the same idea, as there was a massive crowd waiting at the gates by the time we made it there. There were a lot of queue cutter – this is China after all – but the crowds were cleared very efficiently once the park opened.
People began sprinting in the direction of their favourite rides, strollers and all; it was a rather terrifying sight, because in the other Disneylands I’ve been to, people were more chill and just brisk-walked to their rides instead of running the way these people did. It was drizzling intermittently our first day, but we didn’t really care for the rain, because honestly Disney >>> rain???
The Pirates of The Caribbean ride is probably the first ride you’ll wanna head to, because they don’t have FastPasses and the queue times can get pretty crazy (60 mins+) by midday. This ride is a dark water ride, with a small backward flume, and it’s so visually stunning with massive props and amazing CGI; this is definitely one of the best rides.
We managed to sit this ride twice on the first day, with the queue times being around 5 minutes because it was a weekday. On our second day, we only managed to sit on it at the start of the day with a 15 minute wait; the wait time increased to 40 minutes by the time we finished the ride. 😮 Well at least the queue area is well-themed and indoors…
At the start of the ride, your boat will pass by this dining area, located in Barbossa’s Bounty (Treasure Cove’s dining area). This particular section of the restaurant (pictured later) gets pretty crowded during lunch time because the view is really unique, so get there early to secure a scenic lunch spot!
The ride combined larger-than-life props with huge projector screens and special effects to make riders feel like they were actually in the movie. This was hands down my favourite ride.
This theatre is where they have a live action/acrobatic show, featuring a Mandarin-speaking Jack Sparrow. But their stunts transcend language, so even if you don’t understand Chinese, this show is certainly still a must-watch, with all the explosions, ‘flying’ and sword-fighting.
The prices are over ¥100 per pax, though there are some family options that are more affordable. We bought a meal for 4 pax, because it was the same price as ordering 3 separate meals…and the serving was a lot larger than expected, not that I was complaining!
You must be wondering what these people are queuing for, and thankfully this isn’t for a ride; it’s a winding queue to get FastPasses for the 2 rides located in Adventure Isle: Soarin’ and Roaring Rapids. FastPasses for both rides run out within an hour of the park opening, so be prepared to join the queue if you want a chance at taking either of these rides, which have wait times from 1 hour on a weekday to 3 hours on Fridays/weekends.
After queueing for 20 minutes, we got FastPasses for Soarin’ (you have to choose either ride, since you can only redeem 1 FastPass every few hours). Maybe the queue was longer because it was a Friday, but on our first day here (Thursday), the queue was already snaking. Guess Shanghainese are just as kiasu as Singaporeans…
We returned to take the ride in the afternoon, with the non-FastPass queue stretching wayyy out of the ride entrance; those poor souls had a 3 hour wait. Our wait time was considerably shorter at 30 mins, and the indoor queue area was air-conditioned and featured a starry night sky projection on the ceiling.
Despite the rave reviews for Soarin’ and its immense popularity with the Chinese crowds, I found it only average and not particularly worth the wait. It’s only worth taking if you have a FastPass, because the ride itself is only 5 minutes long. It’s a very unique ride concept, simulating flying all over the world (with all the sights and sounds), but the execution was not as stellar as the one in Disneyworld’s Epcot. My seat was on one end of the screen, so everything appeared distorted, and the Eiffel tower looked curved from my POV.
Above is Camp Discovery, an obstacle course located next to Roaring Rapids. This attraction includes high elements and gives you an unparalleled view of the park. Harnesses are provided for everyone, and you can choose between the beginner, intermediate and advanced levels of the obstacle course. Being the coward that I am, I chose the beginner level and simply walked on a solid platform for the whole route, while more adventurous people were hopping and climbing across obstacles. This attraction is good if you have spare time, and/or hyperactive kids; it was surprisingly fun!
We then headed for the afternoon showing of Tarzan, which was an acrobatic show lasting approximately 30 mins. And given China’s reputation for work-safety, none of the acrobats were wearing any harnesses as they flew over the stage… The stunts and acrobatics were great, so make sure to catch this show!
And then we joined another queue, this time to buy our lunch. As any diehard Disney fan would know, Disney turkey legs are AMAZING, and it’s a must to eat them at least once at each park. In this park, there’s only 1 kiosk selling turkey legs, and they only open at 2pm and sell out within the hour.
Other Disney parks sell smoked turkey legs, but the ones we ate here were braised and coated in a special Chinese-esque sauce, which made it very tender and fragrant. It was absolutely worth the wait!
The enchanted castle is so tall & majestic that it can be seen from literally every corner of the park, and there’s even a restaurant (prior reservation required) in the upper floors of the castle! There’s a Swarovski crystal shop as well, for rich Disney fans. If you have USD$300,000 to spare, this scale model of the castle can be yours…
Most of the rides in Fantasyland are identical to the ones in HK Disney, but I’ll highlight the ones that are unique to the Shanghai park. Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is a boat ride that takes you through scenes from the most popular Disney movies, accompanied by their soundtracks, making the ride immersive and magical in equal parts. It even takes you under the Enchanted Castle itself, a Disney first!
The Alice In Wonderland Maze is beautifully decorated and whimsical, and a perfect spot for photo-taking (with the castle as your backdrop). Keep your eyes peeled for Cheshire Cat’s hologram as you walk through the cave!
I can’t describe how stunning the architecture of Tomorrowland is; you have to see it in person to appreciate the full scale of it all. It looked so futuristic and was so well-themed that it was as if we were transported into a different world altogether.
The TRON Lightcycle Power Run ride is the centrepiece of Tomorrowland, and rightfully so. The rollercoaster simulates racing on high-tech motorbikes a la Tron’s storyline, so the safety bars lock riders in a position similar to how one would actually ride a motorbike, which makes the ride so unconventional and exhilarating. The wait times can range from 10 minutes to an hour, but don’t worry, FastPass ticketing is available, and they didn’t run out on both days we were there.
For non thrill-seekers, you can visit the TRON Realm, an indoor exhibition with lots of interactive games and exhibits.
A Star Wars exhibition is tucked away behind TRON, complete with character meet-and-greets (Darth Vader, R2-D2 and Finn) and replicas from the movie. There’s also a small merchandise shop, with a booth to customise your very own lightsaber!
Gardens of Imagination
The Gardens Of Imagination is the perfect spot for all your picture-taking needs, with perfectly manicured flower beds, character meet-and-greet spots – oh – and not to forget, the castle in the background.
The Marvel Universe Exhibition showcased costumes, merchandise and movie posters from GOTG2, though I presume they’ll update the exhibition for upcoming Marvel movies. It was not as exciting as I had expected it to be, but as a diehard Marvel fan, I still enjoyed looking at the exhibits and playing some of the interactive games they had there.
Just outside the MU exhibition is a good viewing spot for the daily parades; it gets crowded about 15 minutes before the parade starts, so if you want an unobstructed view, you have to get there early!
This is similar to Main Street USA in other parks – an entire lane dedicated to emptying your wallet. The decorations are so cute, and the range of merchandise is mind-blowing; you’ll be able to find souvenirs for everyone in the stores.
And so we’ve come to the end of this post, and if you’re planning a vacation to Shanghai Disneyland, I hope this has been of some help to you. 🙂
P.S. I don’t make any money from running this blog, so if you’d like to support my writing and help me bring even better content to you, you can buy me a coffee/donate on Ko-fi!
If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series