Friday, April 28, 2017

Shanghai Disneyland: Don't Make These Mistakes on Your Visit

Our family just returned from our first visit to Shanghai Disneyland!  We are big Disney fans, and visiting this one means that my husband and I have now visited every Disney park in the world -  4 in Orlando, 2 in Anaheim, 2 in Paris, 2 in Tokyo, 1 in Hong Kong, and now this one in Shanghai!  We read blogs and listened to podcasts to prepare, but we still made mistakes and learned things when we were there.  

So if you're planning a trip to Shanghai or if you just want to know what we learned, read on!

Mistake #1: Arriving at the official opening time.  When we checked into the Toy Story Hotel on Monday, it was late afternoon.  We only had two days of park tickets, so we knew we didn't want to burn one on a half day.  We asked the cast member at the check-in desk what time the park was scheduled to open the next day and were told that the park would open at 8:30.  We had read online that they actually open 30 minutes earlier than that, and we were so glad we got there early.  We were in the security line beside the fountain by 7:51, and the line was already beyond the metal crowd-control gates when we got in line.
We certainly weren't the only people lining up at 7:55!

The hardest part of this was that people were constantly trying to push past us in line.  Josh, the kids, and I ended up standing side by side, four across with our hands or elbows on the crowd-control gates to try to keep people behind us.  (This was a recurring problem throughout our entire trip.)  At about 8:00 the gates opened, and we were allowed to go through the metal detectors two at a time while our bags were inspected.

After we got through security, we chose the far left line at the next set of gates.  Many of the people in line at the first set of gates apparently did not have tickets yet, so the lines at the next set of gates wasn't quite as long.  These gates were the ones that opened at 8:30, but if we had arrived at the security gates at 8:30, I feel certain that at least the beginning of our day would have been significantly different.

Which brings me to
Mistake #2:  Going straight to the Adventure Isle FastPass line. For some reason, Soarin' is enormously popular in Shanghai.  Don't get me wrong, I like Soarin' a lot, and the Shanghai-specific ending of the one here is really cool.  But people here appear to be insanely crazy about this ride.  

Unlike other parks in the world, each land in Shanghai has only one place to get all the FastPasses offered for that land.  There are multiple FastPass machines but only one line per land.  For example, Soarin' and an attraction called Roarin' Rapids that is similar to Animal Kingdom's Kali River Rapids both have FastPasses in Adventure Isle, so you can get FastPasses for either ride at the same kiosks.  At park opening, everyone runs as fast as they can to get into the FastPass line for Adventure Isle instead of just going straight to the attractions themselves!!!!!!  I do not understand it.

Both days we walked right past the already-insanely-long FastPass line and straight to Soarin'.  We had less than a 10-minute wait both days.  When we came out, though, the FastPass line was even longer.  Both days we were there, all the FastPasses for Soarin' were gone for the day by 10:00, and the standby wait time for the rest of the day was 180 minutes.  So don't make the mistake of waiting for a FastPass!

If the weather is warm during your visit, I would go straight to Soarin' one day and then straight to Roarin' Rapids the next.  We were there in March, so it was still very chilly in the morning and we didn't want to get wet that early.  So we did Soarin' first on both days and grabbed Roarin' Rapids FastPasses before they ran out for the day by 11:00.
We're happy because we had no wait getting on to Soarin'!

Mistake #3:  Expecting characters to sign autographs.  Though I never got a straight answer about why this is, none of the characters in Shanghai Disneyland sign autographs.  You can, of course, meet them and get pictures with them, but even the English-speaking face characters such as Belle and Captain America (who are clearly American or perhaps Canadian) don't sign autographs.  Go figure.
Even random rebel pilot guy who spoke English and was clearly capable of writing his name didn't sign autographs.

Mistake #4:  Wasting a FastPass on the Buzz attraction.  For some reason, this is not a terribly popular ride in Shanghai even though I think it's really fun.  In fact, I think this was my favorite Buzz in the whole world.  Your blaster has a laser so that it's much easier to aim, and we all scored higher than we typically do on other Buzz rides in other parks.  We were able to practically walk on all three times we rode it, so there's not really a reason to "waste" a FastPass on it.  Use your FastPasses for TRON instead.
You probably won't need a FastPass for this ride!

Mistake #5:  Thinking that this park can't possibly be as big as people say it is.  People, trust me on this.  This park is massive.  Walking from, say, Soarin' in Adventure Isle to TRON in Tomorrowland at a relatively fast clip still takes a good 15 minutes.  I know bloggers and podcasters who refuse to criss-cross the Magic Kingdom in Orlando because they feel that it's exhausting.  These people would probably just sit down and give up at this park.  If you go, you are going to have to walk.  A lot.  Imagine if you wanted to go from Norway in EPCOT to France six times a day.  It's bigger than that.  Additionally, it doesn't really have the circular layout of EPCOT's World Showcase or the spoke-and-wheel layout of the Magic Kingdom.  It's much more irregular and therefore it's not easy to navigate between lands.  Prepare yourself.

And once you've prepared, get yourself to Shanghai.  And so what if you make a couple of mistakes?  It's totally worth it.

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