Planning a trip to Shanghai Disneyland can be complicated, with very little info currently available. Not only is there a language and cultural barrier to tackle, there also isn’t a wealth of planning information out there either.
Following our trip in November 2016, I’ve compiled a list of my top tips to help to make your trip as amazing as possible.
Plan on more than 1 day
Yes, it’s only one park, and yes, technically you COULD do it in one day. But planning for just a single day can be a stressful experience. Trying to crammed in the big rides, and fit in all the show times throughout the day is a big ask. What’s to say that’s even possible? On our second day Pirates of the Caribbean was closed for the entire day, how would you feel if on your “one day” that happened to you?
Also, the park is HUGE. Trying to fit everything in would mean a lot of back and forth to maximise time. Give yourselves two days, get your must do’s completed on your first day, and then use the second day to really appreciate the park, taking in some of the smaller attractions and shows. The detail there is second to none, you need to give yourself time to stop and take it all in.
Have a strategy
I think this is important, even if like mine, it’s only a loose plan of action. Know what the park has to offer, what rides are your “must do’s” and aim for those first. You may find you get those done very quickly, that’s great, but at least you’re not going to arrive without a destination in mind.
Use FastPasses to your advantage
Many of the top attractions utilise the FastPass system, use this to your advantage. For example, I recommend running (along with everyone else!) to grab a FastPass for Soarin in the first instance, before proceeding to ride it as well. Then, when you are within your FastPass window (providing the time suits), grab something like the River Rapids for early afternoon. Tron, in our experience, was usually the last ride in run out of FastPasses so those were the last we grabbed. Trying to time an evening FP for Tron is also recommended, as it’s a completely different ride in the evenings.
Bear in mind that unlike Tokyo and some other Disney parks, you queue for FastPasses at a single location within the land, it’s hidden behind a guest services booth. This is especially handy for Soarin, as the machines are BEFORE the ride when running from the central hub, so don’t get carried away and miss it!
Get there early
Queues can get big, so arrive early. I recommend an hour before as a minimum. Once you’re through the first gate be prepared to run and queue again at the main gates ready for entry.
Go with and open mind
I’ve mentioned this before in a previous post, but it’s a very important one. At opening and still today, lots has been said about the cultural differences you can expect to find in Shanghai Disneyland compared to other parks, and this is rarely shed in a positive light.
Yes, people will push in, but they do that in Disneyland Paris if you don’t use your elbows to your advantage. And yes, personal space is pretty much zero, they will stand mear millimetres behind you. But will this ruin your trip? of course not! As for the “dirty”, less savoury behaviour you are warned about in the press, we didn’t see a thing, maybe we were having too much fun to notice. What I will say though it that Shanghai Disneyland was one of the cleanest, well-kept parks I’ve visited, it puts Walt Disney World Florida to shame in that regard.
Separate exit for Disneytown
To the left of the castle, just passed Dumbo, is a second exit for Disneytown. This is especially useful if, after the fireworks, you are heading there to eat. You’ll avoid all the stampede heading for the main exit this way. So for the fireworks try and position yourself on the left-hand side in preparation for this exit.
Take time out
Shanghai Disneyland is BIG, but it’s also one of the most beautiful and detailed parks you’ll visit. It’s very tempting to spend your day sprinting between attractions, shows and FastPass slot,s but do take some time to enjoy it.
Go somewhere else
True when visiting Shanghai in general, not just Shanghai Disneyland. Recently China introduced a new visa scheme aimed to encourage tourism to certain areas. There are detailed rules to follow, and I recommend checking those out before travelling, but as a general rule, if you fly into Shanghai, stay for less than 144 hours in total, and continue on to a destination NOT in the country where you originated, you can do so completely visa free. So why not pair it with a trip to Japan like we did, you’ll have a lovely extended trip and save yourself some pennies (chinese visas are not cheap!) and time in the process.
So what are your best Shanghai Disneyland travel tips? Anything you think I’ve missed?