Author of Drunk Love Sober Death and Compass. I'm also a podcaster. Find all my work here >> www.jadejackson.com.au
Published June 26th 2016
Be amongst the first to visit the new Shanghai Disney Resort
Shanghai Disney Resort
The grand opening of The Shanghai Disney Resort in China adds revamped old favourites and brand new ride experiences for any Disney fan. It also includes some locally themed features like the Garden of the twelve friends, a Chinese zodiac mosaic wall, Disney style. Examples include Pluto as year of the dog.
Sunset over the Enchanted Storybook Castle. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
The TRON Lightcycle Power Run claims to be the fastest Disney ride and it feels like travelling on a motorcycle at the speed of light! Be sure to leave your belongings in a free locker before queuing. Not as claustrophobic as it looks. FAST PASS
The revamped Pirates of the Caribbean ride is nothing like the original. It's a totally immersive boat ride featuring 270 degree floor to ceiling 3D video, giving you the sensation of being underwater. Narration is in Chinese but it doesn't matter. It's more visual and it's spectacular.
Soaring Over the Horizon still feels magically like flying but now features attractions from around the world and is the most popular ride here. Not for those with a fear of heights! FAST PASS
Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue has revamped 3D graphics and it felt easier to shoot Emperor Zurg but it's always a fun ride. FAST PASS
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a great roller coaster and is more exhilarating than I expected. It's realistic swinging mine car movement makes this ride a fan favorite. FAST PASS
Jet Packs is a short little flying ride but push the button and you'll soar even higher! Sometimes even small rides can offer big thrills like this.
I visited over three days including the grand opening on June 16 and by day three, the ride wait time was fairly consistent throughout the day. Only a few rides required wait times longer than an hour. Most young (20 ) Chinese speak some English and will relish the opportunity to practice with you whilst stuck in a queue. Don't be shy, it's a great way to learn about life in China.
Average ride wait times in Fantasyland, Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (FAST PASS) and Peter Pan's Flight (FAST PASS) are great rides featuring sensations of bouncing like Tigger and flying like Peter Pan through London but for me they lost some of their excitement in Shanghai as the narration was only in Chinese.
Roaring Rapids (FAST PASS) was often closed for maintenance which was annoying but definitely worth a go. Float along in a rubber raft over rapids and through caves! it's impossible to not get wet. This ride also closes early.
Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is a new attraction and is a relaxing boat ride past fountains featuring Disney characters. It also ventures inside the Enchanted Storybook Castle. It's aimed at little kids but it's still good. Sit at the back for easy views on both sides.
Old favourites Dumbo the Flying Elephant which is similar to Jetpacks and Fantasia Carousel are cute and kids both big and little will love them.
The adventurous ropes course, Challenge Trails (must wear shoes and put bags in free lockers) and Explorer Canoes (also closes early) are more activities rather than rides but if anything they add variety and usually have shorter wait times.
Unleash your inner princess at Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
What makes Shanghai special is the Broadway quality shows. They are fabulously entertaining, each theatre fits a lot of people and shows run regularly throughout the day. All shows are in Chinese Mandarin however it's easy enough to follow dancing and acrobatics. The only show difficult to understand was the Stitch Encounter as the humour is lost without translation.
Tarzan - Call of the Jungle
This was the absolute highlight for me. I watched it twice in one morning and considered watching it a third time! It starts off with an animated film of how Tarzan came to be in the jungle. It then switched to live mode with astonishing acrobatics (think human pyramid jumping a skipping rope!) Beautiful ballet movements cleverly intertwined with acrobatics will leave your mouth agape. Catchy bouncy tunes and cute monkey costumes round out this extravaganza into an unmissable attraction.
Acrobatic performances during Tarzan - Call of the wild. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Frozen: A Sing-Along Spectacular This is one of the most popular shows and aim to be there at least 20-30 minutes ahead of the show start time. Not only does the stage come alive with animations but also the theatre walls have video projected onto them displaying different scenes. All singing is of course in Chinese Mandarin but there's no mistaking the tunes and kids will still be excited at seeing their heroes Elsa and Anna.
Eye of the Storm - Captain Jack's Stunt Spectacular
This show starts off as a pantomime whilst the audience is standing. However this is only the intro. The real show is like nothing I've seen in theatre. I won't reveal surprises but Jack Sparrow flies in hanging on a rope over the audience and it only gets bigger from there.
The Lion King
Other Disney theme parks have gone for a 30 minute snapshot of the classic musical but not Shanghai. They have a permanent theatre showing the full two and a half hour production. This is not included in your park admission ticket and will need to be booked in advance but can be visited independently of the Shanghai Disney Resort.
The Star Wars Launch Bay & Marvel Universe are essentially exhibitions featuring props and costumes where you can have your photo taken with your favourite characters. At the latter, you can attend a comic drawing class which was fun and different.
Time saving tips
Mickey Mouse clock, Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Download the Shanghai Disney Resort app. It has a map and includes live waiting times. There is free wifi at a number of locations in the park. Arrive early, before the gates open to be amongst the first guests in the park. Get a fast pass for a popular ride, then go straight to another ride. Most fast passes were gone by mid morning so get in quick. Utilise the single rider queues If in operation. The only time it's great to be single! Rides offering this changed daily but included Pirates of the Caribbean, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Roaring Rapids. Parents will love the rider switch option. Don't get distracted by shops and walk through attractions. Plenty of time for these later in the day. Go straight for the rides. Pick a spot during the parade near a ride. It's usually the quietest time for rides. Use the Package Pick-up Service for souvenirs purchased throughout the day.
Bbq pork and pineapple pizza at Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
Most food Caters to local tastebuds including Mickey Mouse shaped pork buns. If you don't see anything you like at one eatery, move to the next, they're all different. Pinocchio's Pizzeria was tasty and you simply can't miss the warm caramel popcorn. The only churros stand is in front of the castle on the right. The roasted turkey legs found in Treasure Cove had queues as big as some rides so they must be good! Expect to pay CNY80-100 for a combo meal. (Approximately AUD20/USD15)
How to get there and where to stay
Mickey's Storeybook Parade, Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.
The metro line 11 goes right to the Shanghai Disney Resort. Not all subway maps had been updated yet but the Disney station is the last one in the lower right hand corner of line 11 near the Maglev line. Be aware some metro transfers can be a 25 minute walk! There is parking as well. Buy a return ticket or a multiday metro card to avoid ticket machine queues.
Where to stay
From downtown Shanghai it takes at least 40-60 minutes, on the metro to get to Shanghai Disney Resort. It's recommend to stay close to the park. There are two Disney Resort Hotels which were booked out during my visit. If you can't book these there are other hotels near the Kangxing Highway metro station which is 10 minutes from the park.
Be sure to stick around for the evening spectacular fireworks show and choose your spot at least an hour before. There are lots more walk through attractions to discover and characters to meet. With so many rides and shows to experience, it's worth considering a two day pass or even three if you have the time. Overall Shanghai Disney offers enough new and different things to excite the seasoned Disney fan, whilst maintaining that Disney magic for first timers. if it's your first Disney Experience, I'd reccomend combining it with Hong Kong Disneyland which is a 2.5 hour flight from Shanghai and offers more English translations and different ride experiences. Most staff in Shanghai Disney speak English or will find someone that does.
Fireworks over the Enchanted Storybook Castle, Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo by Jade Jackson Photography.