Monday, April 24, 2017

Ten Things to Love About Shanghai Disneyland

#1.  TRON.  Seriously, people.  This ride alone is reason enough to go to Shanghai Disneyland.  It is unlike any roller coaster I've ever done before in that you are on a motorcycle-type thing.  It's kind of reminiscent of Space Mountain on a motorcycle in that it is indoors (mostly) and in the dark, but the way you ride on the cycle takes the concept to the next level. Knox was really worried about falling off, but Disney Imagineers have outdone themselves with the ingenious way you are strapped in.  I'm still not sure exactly how they made us feel like we were really riding a motorcycle in that bent-over-the-handlebars kind of crouch that seriously fast bikers do without also making you feel like you could fly off at any moment, but they did.  The restraint comes down comfortably over your back as you pull your handlebars into position, and the backs of your knees are held in place as well.  You feel completely secure while your lightcycle speeds through twists and turns.  You don't need to know the story of the movie TRON to enjoy the ride, but we watched both the 1982 version of the movie and the 2010 sequel to get some context before we left home.  Knox loved both of them, and seeing the movies in advance made him willing to overcome his fear and get on the ride the first time.  Ride it as many times as you can.

Outside the attraction, Kinley and Knox hop on lightcycles for a picture.  You can kind of see the restraint on their backs and the way their legs are secured.  It may appear uncomfortable, but it really isn't.

#2.  Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.  You think you know Pirates, don't you?  You've done it at Walt Disney World, and maybe you've even done the Disneyland version.  But, I'm telling you, this ride is like nothing you've ever experienced in a ride of any type before.  (If you're interested in blueprints, patents, and construction secrets, head over to this cool post from Coaster101to learn specifics about how Disney does it.)  Both times we rode it, we were in the front of the boat, and if there had been flies inside, several would have no-doubt flown into my open mouth thanks to the jaw-dropping effects.  Again, the Inagineers have outdone themselves.  From the way you really feel like your boat is sinking to the bottom of the sea to the swashbuckling battle between Jack Sparrow and Davy Jones to the backwards drop that makes the Norway-turned-Frozen ride in EPCOT seem boring, you are completely immersed in the experience.  The boats move in multiple directions, the projection screens are MASSIVE, and the soundtrack left us bum-bum-ba-da-dum-bum-ba-da-dum-bum-ba-da-dum-buming for the rest of the day.

The entrance to to attraction looks even more ominous at night!

#3.  Camp Discovery. This isn't your grandmother's Tom Sawyer Island.  When I initially read about this attraction, I had planned to skip it.  It just sounded like a glorified version of the attraction at Walt Disney World that we usually choose not to do. So I'm so glad that I heard a podcast and read a blog post from TDRexplorer that sang the praises of this attraction and changed my mind!  This is basically a ropes course where you are strapped into a harness attached to a track above you.  The obstacles always have three options - easy, medium, and challenging, and you don't have to choose the same level at each obstacle.  You can do challenging at one, easy at another, and medium at the next.  And some of the challenging ones were REALLY challenging for me.  Climbing the slippery rocks around the waterfall was tough, and when on the last obstacle I saw Josh struggling, I opted for the medium option.  But it's fun and unlike anything at any other Disney park, and that's something to love!

Maneuvering around that waterfall isn't easy but it's fun!  You aren't allowed to take anything with you - not even phones - so a picture after the adventure is all we got.

 #4.  The Castle.  It isn't just that it's the biggest castle Disney has ever built in a park.  It isn't just that it's the only Disney park castle that celebrates all of the princesses.  It isn't just that there is both a walk-through attraction and part of a ride inside.  It isn't just the massive Royal Banquet Hall where you can enjoy a delicious meal with characters.  It's all of that plus the fact it looks the size and scale of the castles of your dreams.  Rather than using forced perspective as they did with the other Disney castles to make the structures look bigger than they actually are, this one is genuinely regal-looking.  And the pink color palette is the stuff dreams are made of.  

Family picture in front of Disney's largest castle

#5.  The Royal Banquet Hall.  I know, I know.  You don't have to go to Shanghai to eat dinner in a Disney castle.  But here's what's awesome about this dining experience.  You don't have to stress out and get online to book reservations 180 days in advance in order to be able to eat there.  In fact, we waited until about 10 days before we left to use Skype to call Shanghai and make our reservation.  We did have to pay in advance, but not having to know exactly where you want to eat during your vacation 6 months in advance is awesome.  We got pictures with Mickey, Daisy, and Donald dressed as royalty, and the food was delicious, too.      

Prince Mickey visited out table during dinner and posed for photos with the kids in the Royal Banquet Hall.

#6.  The Specialty Drinks.  Inside the park, many of the restaurants have their own specialty drink, and we tried as many as we could!  They're all non-alcoholic, and they were universally delicious.  In Pinocchio Village Kitchen we tried we tried Pinocchio's Monstro Slush which is matcha and pineapple coconut flavored with little Mickey-shaped jelly ball thingys floating in it.   (I realize this may not sound yummy, but it is.)  At the Tangled Tree Tavern we loved the berry, pineapple, and coconut flavored Rapunzel's Refresher.  At Barbossa's Bounty, we had to miss the Barbossa's Black Pearl Brew because they were out of it, but that brings me to my next thing to love.
Rapunzel's Refresher was a yummy treat!

#7.  Quick Service Dining Inside Pirates of the Caribbean.  Again, this is not the only park in the world where you can watch the boats of Pirates drift by as you dine, but the difference is that this is a quick-service place rather than a table-service place so you don't need reservations as you do at Blue Bayou, the restaurant inside Pirates at Disneyland, or Blue Lagoon inside Pirates at Disneyland Paris.  We shared the massive Pirate's Feast which was enough roasted meat and side dishes for all of us with plenty to spare, and snagging a table near the water for a better view of the boats passing by was easy.
Our table was right beside the water, so the background you see is actually part of the ride.  You can also see our ginormous platter of food.

#8.  The Minnie Mouse Ice Cream Bar. You may be thinking that an ice cream bar is a dumb thing to include on this list since you can get those at every Disney park.  But we've never had one before that's shaped like Minnie with raspberry ice cream and covered with white chocolate all on a stick, making it the perfect park snack.

#9.  Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack's Stunt Show. Be warned.  This live show is all in Mandarin with no subtitles on screens, so you're not going to be able to understand the dialogue.  But you will definitely get the gist of the story, and you will see some of the most amazing stage stunts I've ever seen in the process.  The show starts as the audience is standing in what appears to be the lobby, but it continues inside the theater where the audience takes a seat.  Captain Jack flies over the heads of the audience on a rope, and there is actually a fight that takes place in midair.  Like, the actors are floating on air thanks to giant wind blowers that are holding them aloft. It's unlike anything I've ever seen.  Don't miss it.
Captain Jack is about to hang for his crimes.

#10. The Price.  There's no doubt about it.  Park tickets are cheaper in Shanghai than they are in the US.  A two-day adult pass (with the current exchange rate of US$1 to 6.88 Yuan) is only US$97 while a two-day pass for anyone under 55 inches tall is just US$74.  To put that in perspective, a one-day Magic Kingdom adult ticket at Walt Disney World is US$113.96 while a child's one-day ticket is US$107.57.  You can do two days at the park getting to experience attractions that are only available in Shanghai for less than the cost of one day in the Magic Kingdom.  Sure, you've flown halfway around the world, but remember that our original tickets to Shanghai were cheaper than tickets to Orlando would have been.

So there you have it.  My top 10 things to love about Shanghai Disneyland.  I'd love to hear your opinions if you've been, so feel free to leave me a comment!  My next post will be about 5 mistakes you shouldn't make during your visit!

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