So, you’re heading to Shanghai Disney? That’s so exciting! This post will guide you through your first visit to Shanghai Disney. Don’t forget, if you’re heading to China, you’ll need a visa – check out my post Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Chinese Visa.
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING SHANGHAI DISNEY
TICKETS, FASTPASS & THE SHANGHAI DISNEY APP
First things first. Tickets. Be sure to buy your tickets before you get to the park (at a minimum, a few days before). Tickets often sell out, especially on the weekends. In fact, you can’t even buy tickets at the park on the weekends. You’ll need your passport to purchase tickets and whoever buys them will have to show their passport at the gate – so be sure to bring it along!
Shanghai Disney does offer a Fastpass option for a handful of rides, but we decided against it. It would have been nice to have for the Soaring Over the Horizon ride, as the wait time never dropped below 2-hours, so we never rode it. However, Fastpasses are never guaranteed, so you run the risk of not getting one at all.
I recommend downloading the Shanghai Disney App so you can check wait times, find your way around the park, and locate restaurants, bathrooms & other important information! The park has free wifi, but as with all of China, you can’t access social media sites or Google and the strength of the wifi service isn’t great. So just keep that in mind!
HOW TO GET THERE
We took the train from the city center to Disney, which was about a 45 minute ride. It’s really easy to use Shanghai’s metro system! We arrived 30 minutes before opening, thinking we’d walk around and grab breakfast. Well, there were already massive queues, so we ended up just hopping in line. And let me warn you… these Disney guests are insane. They push & shove and cut in line. It was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.
When the gates finally opened, it turned into a stampede! I was a little annoyed at this point. But once we got inside, it was fine. Just keep an open mind! The park is massive, so it didn’t seem all that crowded, even though many of the wait times were well over 90 minutes. While we never waited more than an hour, we were very strategic and took advantage of the Single Rider option when available. And as I mentioned above, we didn’t ride Soaring because the wait time was always ridiculous.
RIDES & LANDS
Their rides & lands are different from Disney in the states and I love it! They have a really fun Toy Story Land, which I’d liken to Toon Town at Disneyland in California. Tomorrowland was futuristic and fun, it looked more believable as an actual land than the one at Disneyland. My favorite rides were TRON and Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. Although this park is huge, there really aren’t a lot of rides. I definitely think Disneyland has more rides.
A lot of people obsess over the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, both in Shanghai and at Disney World, but I thought it was super overrated. It reminded me of a dumbed-down version of Thunder Mountain Railroad at Disneyland (which just happens to be my favorite Disneyland ride – what’s yours?).
TRON is like Space Mountain on crack. It’s so unique, fast and fun! You hop on a “Lightcycle” which looks like a super cool motorcycle. You lean forward and are locked into place with a back-brace. It sounds a little intimidating, but it was really fun. Although, if you have large breasts, it is a little uncomfortable! Also, they no longer allow you to place your items in the “Lightcycle” compartment. You have to leave your items in a cart, which is watched by staff and delivered to you when you depart the ride. I was nervous at first, but we rode it multiple times and never had an issue with our belongings.
At Shanghai Disney, my other favorite ride is Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure. I personally think it’s the best Pirates ride among all the Disney parks. At first, I thought it was going to be cheesy, but it’s really fun and much more interactive than the others! Your boat shifts direction as you find yourself “under-water” at times and in the middle of a battle on the sea at other times. I won’t give away the ride, but just know, it’s super fun!
The park also has a water ride, Roaring Rapids, but unfortunately it was too cold outside to ride it the day we went. It looked really fun, kind of like a mix of Splash Mountain and Grizzly River Run at California Adventures.
Note: The language for all of the rides is in Mandarin, so if you don’t speak the language, there will be some moments lost in translation. But that really didn’t effect the way we experienced the rides.
THE TOILET SITCH
Another thing to know, if you’re used to western toilets, you’ll need to head to the very back of the restrooms, or hit up the family restroom, otherwise its all squat toilets – which is traditional in China, I just personally prefer western style!
VEGETARIAN FOOD OPTIONS
If you’re a vegetarian, be sure to go inside the restaurants to check the menus. The little menus posted out front don’t show all of the options. I kept thinking no one had vegetarian options, until Paul decided to grab a burger, so I wandered in with him and noticed the menu had a veggie burger. It wasn’t a traditional veggie burger – it reminded me of a breaded egg roll, on a bun, with lettuce, tomato and ketchup – tasted better than it sounds!
- Park Hours are 8:30am to 8:30pm, everyday
- The park is super clean (although we did witness a little boy peeing in a plastic bag while we waited in line for a ride…)
- Avoid the park during holidays and weekends, if possible. Even Friday (the day we went), was super busy
- Shanghai Disney has the biggest castle by far. It includes a restaurant, shops, and an attraction that allows you to walk through the castle (including upstairs)
- Wear comfortable shoes (duh)
- Bring a small backpack, crossbody or fanny-pack. You’ll want something lightweight, easily accessible and secure in large crowds
If you have a spare day in Shanghai, I recommend checking out Disney! It’s really neat to see how the parks vary from country to country!