Saturday, March 11, 2017

Planning for Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland

For those of you who aren't Disney fans and can't remember which park is Orlando and which one is in Anaheim, I'm assuming you might not know that there are actually twelve Disney parks on the planet.  There are four in Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort (The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom), two in Anaheim at Disneyland Resort (Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure), two in Paris (Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park), two in Tokyo (Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea), one in Hong Kong (Hong Kong Disneyland), and the newest one in Shanghai (Shanghai Disneyland).

(For my tips on visiting Disneyland Paris, click here.)

Until the new Shanghai park opened in June of 2016, Josh and I had been to every Disney park that existed.  We love Disney, and we really love exploring the differences in the international parks.  Often, we visit international Disney parks after we've been out of the country for a long stretch of time and are longing for a little bit of home.  Our first international Disney park visit was to Tokyo Disneyland in 1997.  Josh and I had been on a mission trip teaching English with Let's Start Talking for six weeks, and a little bit of Americana sounded like the perfect antidote to culture fatigue.

After similar missions in Thailand, we visited Tokyo DisneySea in 2002 and Hong Kong Disneyland in 2008, and we visited the parks in Paris for the first time while we were living in Italy for a semester in 2007.  Kinley has been to all the parks except Tokyo Disneyland, but Knox hasn't been to either of the Tokyo parks.  (I know, I know.  Cry me a river, right?)

Josh and I knew that we wanted to go to the new Shanghai park, but we didn't have a plan or a timeline for how or when we'd get there. So when the opportunity unexpectedly arose (as I posted in my last post), we were 100% on board.  So were the kids, of course.

As we have been planning our trip, a few resources have been exceptionally valuable.  At first, all we could find were videos that pointed out some shocking cultural differences in Shanghai.  (If you don't have the desire or the patience to watch the whole 3 minute video, you can start at 2:46 for what I think is the most, ...ummm...., culturally different part.)

Things were apparently so bad in the soft open period leading up to opening day that the Shanghai municipal government issued an etiquette guide reminding people not to do things like "lie on the ground" when visiting the park.

After some digging, we found this video that helped us feel less hesitant about our trip.
And then I found a podcast called Disney Dream Girls.  Podcasts numbers 141 and 144 were all about Shanghai Disneyland, and the couple interviewed on the pod had just been there in late December of 2016.  Both podcasts were incredibly valuable for helping us plan out our two short days in Shanghai.  

Another helpful website was the Disboards website .  This is basically a Disney discussion board that tends to focus on US parks, but it has an "Other Lands" section as well.  This was the same site we used when we found out that booking a Paris Disneyland trip through an Irish company was cheaper than booking the same trip through a British or French company.  There are all kinds of little tips and answers to questions on there.  And while there isn't a dedicated page for Shanghai, trolling the Other Lands page yielded a lot of good info for us.  And if you like numbers and facts, this article is pretty cool.

When we go, we are most interested in the attractions at both Shanghai and Hong Kong Disneyland that aren't in the US parks as well as the attractions that are in US parks that have been added since our last trip in 2012.   Now, we'll ride everything we can ride and experience everything we can squeeze in, but here are our must-do lists for both parks.

TRON Lightcycle Power Run
Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure
Voyage to the Crystal Grotto
Jet Packs
Camp Discovery
Hunny Pot Spin
Soarin' Over the Horizon (We haven't been on it since the ride changed from its California theme.)
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (We haven't been to WDW since this opened.)
Hong Kong
Hyperspace Mountain (Star Wars + Space Mountain = AWESOME)
Iron Man Experience
Mystic Manor (This is NOT a version of Haunted Mansion, I'm told.)

At Shanghai Disneyland we'll be staying at the Toy Story Hotel, and at Hong Kong Disneyland we'll be staying at the Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel.  At Hong Kong we usually stay at Disney's Hollywood Hotel because it's less expensive, but with the short length of our stay and the deal we got on the flights, we decided to go big. We've never stayed at the Grand Floridian or the Disneyland Hotel at any of the parks, so we're super pumped.

It's going to be a quick trip - not even a full week - but it's going to be great!  Another Boyd-style adventure!

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