Shanghai Disneyland September 2019 Trip Report & Photos

Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
My wife and I recently came back from an incredible trip to China of 3 weeks. We flew from Orlando to Beijing (where we saw the Great Wall and Forbidden City) and took trains and internal flights to travel to Xi’an (Terracotta Warriors), Luoyang (Longmen Grottoes), Zhangjiajie (national park known for inspiring the floating mountains in Avatar), Hangzhou (West Lake) and Shanghai. We ended with 2 days at Shanghai Disneyland (SDL) and had an amazing time. I have a lot of photos to share and I will post this trip report / review over multiple posts in this thread.
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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
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Summary

I had read some pretty bad rumors about Shanghai Disneyland beforehand, such as illegal selling of merchandise in the park, guests cutting lines, and even parents letting their small children poop outside. Luckily we didn’t encounter any bad stuff like this in the park, except for line cutting and pushing when trying to get into the park on the first day.

We were there on Thursday, September 26th and Friday, September 27th. Crowds were generally very light, with mostly 5 to 10 minute waits, even for Tron. Some rides (mostly just Seven Dwarfs and Soaring Over the Horizon) went up to 45 minutes in the late afternoon, but it was easy to do these rides earlier or with FastPass. We did not wait more than 20 minutes for anything. We were there just a couple of days before the start of National Week, and I wonder if that is why it was so uncrowded. Even with these short lines we still needed two days. SDL has a lot of great rides and shows, and a second day allowed us to do everything and our favorite things multiple times, as well as really look around and take in all the details.

The park is huge, with lots of areas for expansion. It was a little bit more walking between attractions than is the case in other Disney parks, but it wasn’t so bad. Before I go into detail about each land, here are some quick positive and negative points:

🙂 Positive points
  • Beautiful new park with very nice theming in all the lands
  • Friendly and professional Cast Members (CMs)
  • Many restaurants and food stands, with high quality food and snacks
  • Lots of “Guest Services” booths in each land that showed show times, FastPass times and wait times for all attractions in the land
  • Most drinking fountains had integrated bottle fillers, which was extremely nice.
  • All the Disney references in Mickey’s Avenue were so much fun.
  • Many great attractions
  • “Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure” is amazing and easily my favorite Disney ride worldwide.
🙁Negative points
  • Terrible entry procedure
  • Most CMs did not speak English, or only very little. This was typical during our 3 weeks in China and we were used to using our translation apps. I had also learned some basic Chinese, so we could get by. We actually saw very few foreign tourists at SDL.
  • Food and souvenirs seemed to be equally or even more expensive than at WDW, which was surprising as generally on our trip food, hotels and souvenirs were a lot cheaper in China than in the US
  • Lack of SDL-themed souvenirs. 99.9% of merchandise is generic Disney stuff. I think that there is more Farewell Illuminations merchandise at Epcot than there is SDL merchandise at SDL.
  • Disappointing evening fireworks show
  • Very few vegetarian food options
  • The Magical Passport was disappointing, with most machines broken and a lame gift in the end
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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Arrival

We stayed 2 nights in downtown Shanghai and transferred to an off-property hotel near SDL in the afternoon of Wednesday, September 25th. I had booked 3 nights in the “Courtyard Shanghai International Tourism and Resorts Zone”, which is just west of the resort. This was about $75 per night and far cheaper than the Toy Story Hotel, which was $186 per night. It would have been fun to stay at a Disney resort, but some of the hotels we stayed in in China were below $25 and I couldn’t get myself to spend that much. The hotel had a shuttle service to SDL that took only 5 to 10 minutes and dropped us off in the Donald parking lot, which was just 10 minutes walking from the entrance. I thought it was ideal and the hotel was very nice.

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Our hotel shuttle bus:

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This is where the bus dropped us off, at the Donald parking lot. In the evening there were dozens of other buses waiting for their people:

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Looking back at the parking lot on Wednesday late afternoon. These seemed to be all the cars parked in the main parking lot of SDL, which is not many. I think that many guests arrived by bus from off-property hotels:

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We wanted to do a character meal, so I had made a reservation for Wednesday night at Lumière's Kitchen in the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. There are only two character dinners, with the other being with princesses in the castle. It was a reservation with no consequences if I cancelled, so we wanted to have a look at the buffet. The table would be kept for 15 minutes after the reservation time and then given to someone else. You were allowed to stay for 90 minutes and the price was ¥388 per person + 15% service charge. That would be ¥892.4 total for the two of us, or $130. That is a very high price. The ‘service charge’ is bogus and we didn’t encounter this anywhere else in China. There is no tipping in restaurants. We had a look at the buffet and it was mostly small dishes already prepared. So instead of taking a piece of salmon from a large salmon on a dish, there would be small plates with small pieces of salmon, nicely presented with some garnish and sauce drizzled over it. Very different from Disney buffets here in the US. The restaurant was very empty, with only a few tables filled. We decided to save some money and ended up having dinner at Cheesecake Factory, which was actually quite nice after nearly 3 weeks of rice and noodles.

Shanghai Disneyland Hotel:

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Looking back from the hotel. There is a large lake between the park and this hotel, and a large park all around the lake. Lots of place for future Disney hotels:

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Beautiful lobby:

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There was a boat going between Disneytown and the hotel, which we took back:

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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Disneytown & Merchandise

On Wednesday we spent a few hours in Disneytown. It was not busy at all, with only a couple dozen people walking around. There were quite a few nice table service restaurants, a Starbucks, a bakery (that opened at 9:30am, after park opening) and some stores like LEGO and Build-A-Bear. There are 4 Disney retail stores: World of Disney is the largest one. Then attached to this are 3 smaller stores that each have their own entrance, but are basically just 1 store: D-Street, Novel-D and Tren-D.

I was looking forward to getting some SDL merchandise, but I was very disappointed that there was almost nothing. Here and throughout the park almost all merchandise was generic Disney stuff. Very little had “Shanghai Disneyland” on it. There were only a couple dozen different adult-size t-shirts available at the entire resort, and only 2 of them said Shanghai Disneyland on the front, and the others were generic character designs. Most of these t-shirts were cheap-ish material, made of heavy cotton with thick plastic print on the front, which I don’t like. Nothing like the nice thin / blend shirts you can get at WDW. I would have spent a couple $100 on merchandise, but ended up buying very little.

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Another LEGO dragon:

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This large inflatable Donald was listed as an attraction in the app. It is a photo opportunity and they sell merchandise of it. One of the few things I bought was a little rubber ducky that looks just like this:

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Large Minnie ear misters:

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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Tickets & Park Entry Procedure

If you stay at one of the two Disney resorts you get 1 hour early access to the park. Everyone else has the option to buy an Early Access Pass. For our first day we decided not to do this and enter the park at the regular opening time of 9:00. I loved our two days at SDL and the park is awesome, but the entry procedure was completely ridiculous. Have a look at this picture (taken later without people):

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I don’t think the imagineers had this in mind when they designed the entrance and I can’t believe that they have not come up with a more permanent queue after 3+ years since opening. The building you see behind the fences is security. We got in this line at 8:00. There was a lot of pushing and line cutting. It was already pretty hot and the hour we stood in this line was probably the most miserable I have ever felt in a Disney park. We were constantly getting pushed from behind into the metal barriers. It was very unpleasant. At 8:30 a gate opened and everyone pushed forward even more in anticipation, but the gate closed again. At 8:50 they finally started checking people and the line started moving. Now, some Chinese people have the tendency to cut in front of you when they see some space. This is no big deal and we had learned this during our prior 3 weeks in China. But in light of this, having these barriers set up making a queue that is 10 feet across does not make any sense. The pathway should be much narrower so that people can stay in more orderly lines.

After our bags were checked at security we got into another queue to enter the park. This queue was much better, with permanent barriers that were closer together, and there was no pushing or line cutting here.

Our tickets were ¥718 ($101) per person for a 2-Day ticket. When I bought them online from home, I had entered our passport numbers, so we just had to show our passports at the turnstile. This is pretty common in China as we had to use our passports in many places. The CM took our fingerprints and our 2-day Disney tickets were printed right there. This was very efficient and quick. We were inside at 9:15, but already drenched in sweat and exhausted from the queuing experience.

For our second day we decided to pay for the Early Park Entry Pass. We decided this after Guest Services had already closed and were told to either buy it in the app or go to Guest Services in Disneytown the next morning (which opened at 7:10) to buy the passes. Using the app was not an option for us as you could only pay with Wechat, which is only available to Chinese citizen. We went to Guest Services the next morning and paid ¥99 ($14) per person for the Early Park Entry Pass. This was TOTALLY worth it, as we walked up to security at 8:00 there was virtually no line, and then straight into the park a couple of minutes later. Wow, what a difference from the day before. I highly recommend paying for the Early Park Entry Pass if you’re not staying at a Disney Resort.

September was Duffy month, so the usual Mickey at the entrance was replaced with a large Duffy head:

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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Lands & Attractions

Tomorrowland


Tomorrowland is beautiful! The design of the buildings, signage, lighting, walkways, etc are superb. Easily my favorite Tomorrowland. I hope that some of these designs will make it to Magic Kingdom or Epcot.
  • TRON Lightcycle Power Run has beautiful theming outside and in the queue. The first time we rode Tron in the morning we were in the last car and I was a little disappointed. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I thought it was way too short and I was not impressed by the effects. We rode it again and asked to be in the front car, and this was much better. Wow, that was cool. Later that evening we rode it again in the dark and in front … and OMG that was amazing!! This ride is fantastic when riding in the front car at night. 8/10
  • Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue is similar to the Buzz Lightyear attraction at Magic Kingdom, but the aiming / shooting technology is newer. The animated targets are neat. The scenes were extremely boring though, with Zurg’s robots everywhere. I spotted only 2 small screens that showed Buzz, and everything else were the same grey-ish robots. 6/10
  • Jet Packs is a modern version of the Astro Orbiter and is a great ride. It looks very sleek, futuristic, and shiny. Each ride vehicle ended in the same place as it started, and next to each vehicle was a box to put your loose items. The CMs were very serious about taking off hats and any loose items before starting the ride. It went around very fast and I found it a lot more thrilling than its WDW counterpart. 7/10
  • Stitch Encounter is like Turtle Talk with Crush, but with a 2D animated Stitch. The show is entirely in Chinese, but fun to watch. Stitch first talks with people in the audience, then there is short animation (which I assume is the same each time), and then he talks with the audience some more. So far it’s very similar to Crush. However, then Stitch needs to escape and the right side of the screen shows a map with options of where to go. In each room Stitch has 2, 3 or 4 different ways to go while the bad guy is chasing him, and the audience yells the number that Stitch should go to. This was very original. Stitch made it out, but I wonder if it’s possible to make him get caught. 7/10
  • Star Wars Launch Bay was closed.
Look at this beautiful Tomorrowland sign:

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Many rides at sample vehicles outside to try:

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This room is where the coaster is launched to the outside, at the beginning of the ride. You pass it in the queue, and it is a cool reveal:

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Jet Packs:

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Note the boxes for your stuff:

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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land is very similar to the one at Hollywood Studios, but better in some ways. It has an Al’s Toy Barn (obviously), which has some great theming. It looks like a huge barn play-set (with handle on top) and fun chicken theming. I don’t understand why Disney doesn’t put an exact copy of this in HS, where they could use the merchandise and airconditioned space. Another plus is that the food area at SDL’s Toy Story Land is MUCH bigger than at HS. There are 4 different windows, each with their own menu, and there are hundreds of chairs and tables. Way more seating than at HS, and almost entirely shaded with trees and umbrellas. Where this TSL lacks is the rides, as it doesn’t have a big attraction like Slinky Dog Dash. This land could really use Toy Story Mania or Slinky Dog Dash.
  • Woody’s Roundup is like Alien Swirling Saucers, but with Bullseye (and his friend) pulling carts. I liked this version much better than the one at HS for theming and the whimsical music. I am a big fan of Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree at DCA for the funny music, and even though I couldn’t understand the words here I thought that it sounded similar. Much better than the mostly instrumental-only music of Alien Swirling Saucers. 7/10
  • We didn’t do Rex’s Racer and Slinky Dog Spin, which are two small rides and exact copies of the same rides at Disneyland Paris.
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Quick service windows:

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Look at all the seating:

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And more!

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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Fantasyland
  • Frozen: A Sing-Along Celebration is similar to the show at HS. What I liked about this version is that Olaf is not a large human-sized character, but a puppet on a float of ice blocks. That is much better than the freaky big Olaf. 8/10
  • The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh was very similar to the ride at Magic Kingdom, but it seemed longer. 7/10
  • Hunny Pot Spin is SDL’s version of the Tea Cups. Very cute design, with honey on the ceiling. Great theming. 7/10
  • Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a cheap version of the ride at Magic Kingdom. On first glance it looks exactly the same, but the queue and show elements were much simpler than in New Fantasyland. The mine, which has thousands of sparkling diamonds embedded in the walls at Magic Kingdom, had almost none of those. And the end scene with Snow White and the dwarfs dancing in the house is completely gone and replaced by a garden and a small house in the back. The track and vehicles were exactly the same, but knowing the superior version in Magic Kingdom we were let down by this. 5/10
  • Alice in Wonderland Maze was amazing. Fantastic theming and it went on and on, with new areas to explore. It’s not really a maze, but more different themed areas that you enter. It’s really neat how this is right behind the castle, but at a lower level so that when you stand behind the castle you have an expansive view over Fantasyland while you look over the top of this maze area. Beautifully done, I really liked this. 9/10
  • Voyage of the Crystal Grotto is like the Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland and Disneyland Paris, but the scenes were much larger, almost life-size. Every scene had a little water show as you passed by. We did this at night and the lighting was nicely done, but I wish we had done this also during the day. 7/10
  • Peter Pan’s Flight had surprisingly short wait times of just 5 to 20 minutes throughout the day, but was better than the one at Magic Kingdom as it is so much newer, with additional effects, such as screens showing animated Peter Pan and Captain Hook fighting. Magic Kingdom needs this update. 8/10
  • Storybook Court is a princess meet-and-greet that we didn’t go to.
  • “Once Upon a Time” Adventure is a walk-through attraction in the castle, telling the story of Snow White. The CGI animation of Snow White was nice. We enjoyed this. 7/10
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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Treasure Cove
  • Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is amazing. We were blown away and rode it 8 times. This is easily my favorite Disney ride ever (maybe until Rise of the Resistance). Wow, the way they used the screens and practical effects was fantastic. 10/10
  • Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular is a stunt show that takes 30 minutes. The show starts off with some campy fake pirates, until Jack Sparrow comes along and it suddenly gets very exciting. The first 10 minutes are spent standing in a large room while the fake pirates are goofing off on a balcony. After 10 minutes the doors finally opened and we entered a theater with seating. It took 5 minutes for everyone to sit down. So at this time 15 minutes of the total 30 minutes of the show had already passed, but nothing had happened. More silly slapstick stuff for 5 minutes, and then finally the action started. The last few minutes of the show were pretty cool with some nice effects, but that was way too short. 5/10
  • Shipwreck Shore and Siren’s Revenge are play and splash areas. Beautiful theming. There’s a ship you can explore. 7/10
  • We didn’t do the Explorer Canoes, but this seemed pretty popular as we saw many full canoes.
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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Adventure Isle
  • Soaring Over the Horizon was probably the most popular ride at SDL with the longest waits. Chinese guests really liked it as they cheered, pointed and applauded. The theming is very different from the same attraction at DCA and Epcot. The queue is beautiful, although we only did the FP queue. The regular queue seemed to go through a large room with a starry sky, but I didn’t get a good look of this. At the end of the queue, the video screen first shows a mystical woman that changes into a bird. Then comes the safety video, which is based on the American version but with Chinese people. It was funny that this had exactly the same script, with an embarrassed bald guy taking off his ears and a kid giving thumbs up. When you walk into the theater the screen is showing a starry sky of the Milky Way, which is great. The ride is the same, but obviously it ends in Shanghai. The scents were MUCH stronger than at Epcot. 9/10
  • Roaring Rapids is a water ride and similar to Kali River Rapids, but much longer and wilder. Wow, our boat really got tossed around. This was fantastic. No one in our boat got very wet. The cave has a huge monster animatronic, but I didn’t see it very well as I was pointed backwards. Almost all Chinese people wore ponchos, which was interesting. Most people would take them off at the end of the ride and hand them to the next random person. 10/10
  • Camp Discovery is a large area with an excavation area for kids and the main attraction being the Challenge Trails. This must be the most physically challenging attraction of any Disney park. You have to put all your loose items, including cell phones, into (free) lockers and are strapped into a harnass that is attached to a track above your head. Throughout the course you pull your rope along the tracks. The system is ingenious, with lots of ways to pass other people and pick different challenges. You go through a series of challenges that get harder as you get further, but you can really take your time and let other people pass. Each challenge has 3 difficulty options, with the easiest one allowing you to basically walk by. Most of the challenges are crossing various configurations of ropes and planks, but with one challenge you had to walk along a narrow ledge in a cave with a waterfall in the middle of it. We did the medium version of that, but 2 people were doing the hard version and they were stuck in the middle, trying to move their feet while hugging the rock wall. That was pretty intense and I can’t believe that was part of a Disney attraction. You’re always safe in your harnass, of course, but I don’t think Disney’s lawyers would never allow this at a US park. I liked this attraction really a lot and wish we had done it multiple times. 10/10
  • Storybook Stage is a theater that didn’t have anything going on.
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Image of the Milky Way on the screen in the Soaring theater between shows:

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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Gardens of Imagination

The hub in front of the castle is HUGE, with several differently themed areas and even some attractions, like the carousel and Dumbo. It is a little weird to stand at the end of Mickey’s Avenue and see the castle so far away. There’s a statue of Walt Disney with Mickey Mouse, which is great. Mickey is standing on a suitcase that looks like Walt’s old business card from when he started as a cartoonist. The landscaping is beautiful. I did find it a little odd to see the carousel and Dumbo in front of the castle. The area was beautiful, but I do think I prefer the traditional smaller hub.
  • Golden Fairytale Fanfare is a show on a stage in front of the castle, similar to Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire at Magic Kingdom. This show is epic! It has huge stage elements that raise up out of the stage, including an elephant balloon carrying Jasmine and Aladdin, and Merida is going around the stage on a horse carried by two people! It had many dancers on stage in beautiful costumes. 10/10
  • Garden of the Twelve Friends is an area to the side of Gardens of Imagination with 12 murals showing Disney characters in mosaic. Just like the mosaics in the castle, these are beautiful. 7/10
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant and Fantasic Carousel were two rides that we missed.
  • Meet Mickey Tent is a dedicated building to meet Mickey Mouse. The waiting area was cute, with paintings on the walls and some of them were screens that occassionally moved. The meeting space was pretty basic. 6/10
  • Marvel Universe has 3 characters to meet: Captain America, Spiderman and Dr. Strange. We met all 3 and they took their time. Cap told us to stay hydrated and Dr Strange told us to have a magical day. CMs took photos with our camera and they did a great job. Besides that there are some Iron Man suits to look at and you can play an Iron Man video game. There is also a room where you can learn to draw something, but that was closed. I expected more from this area. 5/10
  • Mickey’s Storybook Express is the afternoon parade and it had beautiful floats and costumes. 8/10
  • Ignite the Dream - A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light is the fireworks show consisting of projections on the castle, water fountains in front, and fireworks. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by Happily Ever After, but this show was bad. The projections were nothing like what they’re doing at Magic Kingdom, and the fireworks was very simple with mostly low fireworks close to the castle. Most of the fireworks was shot from in front of the castle, which made the projections hard to see at those times. Epcot Forever has 100 times more and way more impressive fireworks than this show at SDL, which was disappointing in the country where fireworks were invented. 3/10
Check out this video of Merida on her horse:


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Clyde Birdbrain

Unknown Member
Original Poster
Mickey Avenue

SDL does not have a traditional Main Street U.S.A., but instead it has Mickey Avenue, which is a little like Mickey’s Toontown at Disneyland (as the characters have shops), but with nicer theming. There were so many little details for Disney fans, it was a lot of fun to look around here.

I especially loved all the Scrooge McDuck references and the “Floyd and Carl’s Comics” (a fake shop; they didn’t actually sell comics), which is a reference to comic book artists Floyd Gottfredson (known for Mickey Mouse newspaper strips) and Carl Barks (creator of Scrooge, Gyro Gearloose, and many other characters). I am a big Barks fan and it was very nice to see some official recognition by Disney.

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