China Day 9- Sunday morning in Jingshan Park

Day 9… our last day (and not even a full day at that) ended as any busy trip should- with a lazy Sunday morning stroll through a park.

Not just any park though. Jingshan park.. which I hadn’t even known was a thing until we arrived in Beijing and our first tour guide mentioned it to us. Luckily our hotel was an easy 5 minute walk from the East gate of the park.

View of the park hill from our hotel breakfast
It costs a couple of coins ( I suspect to keep beggars and homeless out) and is well worth the visit. We bought our tickets easily at the windows by the gate and headed in. The major draw of this park are the pavilions at the top of the hill, from which you have a sprawling expansive view of the Forbidden city. As we started our trek up a hill we passed a choir singing traditional music which we heard almost the rest of the way up.
At the top there were a few photographers setup with props you could pose with for a fee, and several others milling about but on this particular Sunday morning at 10, it wasn’t crowded at all. We snapped a few photos from the top pavilion we got the best view of the Forbidden city in all its symmetrical and colorful glory. But it’s also to note how cool all the other directions are to see. You can see the temple to the North, West, and East, as well as city sky scrapers a little further out. It was peaceful up here among the small temples with view of ancient and modern combined in one.
The best views of the Forbidden City

 View to the West with the city in the distance 
 Temples to the North of the park 

But my favorite view is still of the Forbidden City
We headed down the hill to the West side of the park thinking we’d make a circle. At the bottom we passed a group of seniors perfecting the art of the Chinese yoyo, called a Diabolo which is a single or double string that the performer uses a stick in each hand to manipulate. The movement is like a dance and the performers were more graceful than I think I could ever be. The coolest part for me was the sound that comes from the Diabolo… the combination of sound and grace were mesmerizing and Braden had to practically drag me away from the group.

Luckily as walked we passed another group of seniors dancing in a square with a boombox playing more traditional music and it seemed that no matter how far we walked,  we were surrounded by music. The park has so many paths and gardens intertwining that you could wander it for hours, especially on a sleepy Sunday morning when families young and old wandered hand in hand.

As we continued back toward the East gate to exit where we entered, we passed a historic marker of memorial plaques and the tree planted on the spot where the Emperor Chongzhen hung himself rather than suffer the humiliation of surrendering to an insurrectional army in 1644. While a little grim it was interesting to read about and see the spot itself.

We spent about 2 hours wandering around before we headed back to our hotel to pack our bags and prepare for the long day of travel ahead of us.

Unfortunately the hotel we stayed was not convenient to a subway stop and as I detest buses, we had about a 25 minute walk to the closest stop. Once we made it though we were set with only a few transfers before we were on the airport express train back to Beijing (PEK) international airport. As you enter the airport it lists the flight numbers with the ticketing counters you should go to for check in so we spent about 45 minutes in a line to check in with Chinese Airways before being informed we had to go to a different counter for United (even though the sign had TOLD us to go to that counter) luckily United had no wait at this point but we lost a lot of our airport time for final shopping and lunch which was sad. From the counters we crammed onto the inter-terminal train (barely avoiding being guillotined by the doors) and had another 40 minute wait or so to go through customs and a higher security (which was combined though again super cautious as they take more pictures and finger prints as your leave..)
Once we were finally through all of security,  the shopping options were limited (as were the eating) and we had quite a bit of cash to burn and only about 45 minutes before boarding. We grabbed sandwiches that were ok  and pastries from a coffee stand and since I couldn’t find any descent souvenir shops (they were all expensive designer shops) I ended up with way too much chocolate. So word to the wise.. don’t end up at Beijing airport with more cash than you need. Haha
That’s it! It was a wild ride but I hope my posts help you travel to China! 

Day 9 costs: 
Breakfast included in hotel stay
Jingshan Park entry: $0.58
Train to airport $8.16
Lunch at airport $19
Day 9 Total: $27.74

Total costs in country: $2,220 for 2 people

Overhead Costs:
Plane tickets: $860
Visa Cost: $490
Dog Sitter: $120
Phone Bill: $100

Total Trip Costs for 2 people: $3,800

China Day 8 – The Summer Palace/ Forbidden City Tour

Our day started on a train and similar to our last sleeper train experience, I was up at the crack of dawn unable to fall back asleep… starting what would be a fairly long day. Luckily we didn’t have to worry too much about organizing our trip as this day was our 2nd tour and was organized for us.
About the Tour:
I didn’t book this tour through a website or by happening upon someone’s page but instead was referred to the tour guide Lisa from a friend who had previously visited Beijing. The cost was the most affordable I saw comparing to online prices for a private tour and the biggest benefit was since we had a private car for the day, we didn’t have to worry about what to do with our luggage while we explored the city. While we didn’t get to meet Lisa personally (she had a family emergency) we did have a great tour with one of her associates. Our stops would be the Summer Palace and Forbidden City and would only end up taking about half a day. If you are wanting to book with Lisa, send me a message and I will give you her contact information.

Pickup: We arrived at the South Beijing Rail station right around 9AM and were met right outside our gate by our tour guide for the day. He had excellent English (the best we encountered on our whole trip) and seemed very knowledgeable as he lead us to the car park where we met our private driver who was also very nice. We hopped in and had about a 1 hour drive to the Summer Palace for our first stop. (Traffic was pretty rough)
Once at the Summer Palace, our guide stood in line and bought our tickets for us which was nice, and we headed in. We were unfortunately visiting on a Saturday so it was VERY busy.
. The first couple of buildings we passed were beautiful but hard to admire around all the people. Our guide however made up for it by giving us interesting information on the symbology used  in the ancient architecture, which would be helpful throughout the day. (ie. How to tell the difference between the female and male lions at the temple gates) He also explained Feng shui to us as both the Summer Palace and Forbidden City incorporate that into their design.
The giant cauldron of bronze was also used for fire safety measures which I found interesting.
Visiting the Summer Palace if on your own:
1. By Subway: take line 4 and get off at Beigongmen and exist from D- it is a 3 min walk to the N palace gate.
2. Entrance fee to the park is cheaper but does not include going into any of the buildings. See pricing info and hours below:
As we walked around the giant complex that is the Summer Palace, it was interesting to learn how it was all designed and built for just the Emperor and the Empress.. and for only a few days out of the year.
The lake is completely man made and most of the soil makes up the hill on which the temple sits. Despite the crowds, as we moved around the lake, I started to really enjoy this place. It was just. so. Beautiful. And I found myself wishing we HADN’T taken a tour here so we could’ve spent more time hunting out the quite spaces to site and relax, or renting a boat to paddle around the water. But alas, we had one day to see the sites, so a tour was what we were left with.
The famous 17 arch bridge crossing a section of the lake

The History of the Summer Palace
It was originally built in 1750, by the fourth emperor of the Qing Dynasty, and was called
“the Garden of Clear Ripples”
In 1860, it was destroyed by the Anglo-French Allied Forces and rebuild in 1886.
It was again destroyed in 1900 by the Allied Forces of the Eight Powers.
In 1912, it was rebuilt as one of the final acts of the Qing Dynasty (1644–1912).
In 1924, it was opened to the public as a tourist attraction and was made an official UNESCO site in 1998.

The layout of the Summer Palace follows the same format as the other imperial palaces in China with the front court buildings serving as the Emperor’s business and ceremonial spaces and the area towards the rear of the court being mostly gardens, relaxing spaces, and living quarters.

We left lakeside and headed for the world’s longest covered promenade: The Long Corridor. While the lake was beautiful, I can’t even begin to explain the feeling that is the long corridor. It stretches on for 2,388 feet/ 728 meters ALMOST HALF A MILE with 273 crossbeam sections. And if the sheer length and colors of this corridor don’t strike your fancy, the over 10,000 paintings of landscapes and folk lore that line the ceiling and side pillars definitely will.
While walking the corridor, you forget the crowds and for a moment, picture yourself an Empress walking a path only meant for you.
Beautiful colors along the ceiling covering every inch of wood
Unfortunately both my husband and our tour guide felt like marathoning this section so I didn’t get to spend nearly the amount of time I would’ve liked photographing it, but word to the wise, save your photos for the second half of the corridor. A LOT less people and quitter space for contemplation and photos.
A beautiful gate section about halfway along the corridor and about where the crowds thinned out.
Closeup of one of the thousands of paintings.
After the long corridor, the last truly spectacular architecture is the Marble Boat. The boat served as a sort of living room for the Empress alone to read and relax in. It was originally built on a base of stone with a wood structure in 1755 but was burned down in 1860. It was restored in 1893 in a new 2 story structure, still made out of wood, but this time painted to imitate marble throughout. Each floor also encompassed a large mirror that would reflect the water around it to further along the feeling of serenity.
After the Marble boat it is a pleasant walk back to the exit passing a few small parks and over some scenic bridges. Our private car and driver picked us up close to the exit and we had about an hour drive to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.
There are only a few entrances to the square as you are required to go through security checkpoints to even enter but once you are in, the space is huge and is in fact the 7th largest city square in the world. The world Tiananmen means “Gate of Heavenly Peace” as the square serves as a gate to the Forbidden City on the Northern side. One the other 4 sides are the  Great Hall of the People, National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong who proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic of China in that very square on October 1,1949. (Tip: Don’t visit Beijing on Oct 1 as our guide told us it is one of the few federal holidays, and the crowds that amass at Tiananmen square are huge, hotels sell out, and people sleep within the square.
There is a Monument to the People’s heroes erected in the square that we checked out before heading to the Forbidden City. There are huge tunnel underpasses to the city from the square and you have to cross from bridges to enter as well. The crowds were very thick here which made it a little miserable, but again… we were here on a Saturday.
The crowds were very thick here which made it a little miserable, but again… we were here on a Saturday. After yet another security checkpoint and our guide showing our tickets, we made into the inner city.
Feng shui is again another important part of the design of the Forbidden City. The moat, and a few small pools near the entrance make up the southern ‘water’ requirement. Then Jinshan hill to the north makes up the hill requirement. Additionally there are temples in each direction N,E,S,W.
The moat itself is 170 feet (52m) wide  and 20 feet (6m) deep. (most of the earth excavated from the moat went towards building up Jinshan hill to the North) In addition to the moat, the city is completely walled in by a 22 ft wide wall that is 32 feet (10m) high. Quite the defenses which makes entering the city even more impressive.
Standing in front of the Hall Of Supreme Harmony (the most important building in the Forbidden City)
The first set of buildings (the outer court) our guider referred to as the “governing” buildings as important business and government officials were allowed into these buildings to conduct their business with the Emperor. These buildings also included the main ceremonial halls, the first being the one used for coronations that contained the golden Dragon Throne and is known as the Hall of Supreme Harmony.  The second building directly behind it would be the hall of Central and is where the Emperor would rest, practice speeches, and prepare for sacrifice rites before departing for the Temple of Heaven. The last great hall is the Hall of Preserving Harmony which was used for banquets.
Fun Facts:
1. The Forbidden City consists of more than 90 palaces and courtyards: 980 buildings… over 8,728 rooms
2. The Forbidden city is the world’s LARGEST palace at 7,750,000 sq feet which is over 3 times larger than the Louvre in France. (also for comparison the Vatican only measures at 1,443,569 sq feet.
3. Originally it was called the “Purple Forbidden city” and is now simply referred to as the “Former Palace” in China.
4. The city took 14 years to complete and was finished in 1420.
5. It took over 1,000,000 workers with more than 100,000 of them being craftsmen
6. It was the home of 24 emperors — 14 of the Ming dynasty and 10 of the Qing dynasty and served as the Imperial palace of China for 492 years.
7. It has not had an Emperor in residence in 1912 and has been a museum since 1925.
Details outside one of the ceremonial halls
Looking toward the Northern inner court where the imperial family lived with Jinshan Park in the background
The second half of buildings (the inner court) were the more private living quarters for the Empress, Emperor, and his many concubines. On the outside, these buildings are virtually identical but there is an addition of a garden that boasted a lot of the same cool boulders/ rocks as the Summer Palace. (said to come from a sacred lake in the south of China.)
A female lion (always on the left) standing guard at the entrance of a hall.
Points of Interest other than the great halls are:
A clocks Gallery
The Treasures Gallery
A Porcelain and Ceramics Gallery
A Bronzeware Gallery
All the other architectural details everywhere!
The crowds largely thinned once we were in the city, but our guide still rushed us quite a bit. All in all I doubt we spent more than 1.5 hours within the walls which was a little disappointing for me as a photographer. We learned plenty and I enjoyed all the stories and history bits but I would’ve liked more time to wander for sure since there are so many little gardens, galleries, and rooms you CAN see. We mostly just made a straight line through, only checking out one of the galleries for a living quarter.
The carpentry and colors of the buildings are largely symbolic with yellow and red being regarded as a symbol of good fortune and yellow a symbol of supreme power. (yellow was only used by the imperial family) There’s even small animal carvings in rows along the ridge line of the halls were used to differentiate the importance of the buildings. For example, there are 9 animals along the Hall of Supreme Harmony (the most important building) and 7 animals on the Palace of Earthly Tranquility (where the Empress lived)
Exit through the Northern gate looking across the moat.
How to visit if on your own:
  1. Take Subway Line 1 and get off at the Tiananmen West station (Exit B) (more direct to the Meridian Gate at entrance to the city) OR you can take Subway Line 2 and get off at Qianmen Station (Exit A) and walk through Tiananmen square.
  2. Most visit the Forbidden City through the Tiananmen and Meridian gate and work their way N. When exiting through the N Gate of Divine Prowess only bus options are readily available with the subway being a good walk away. (Or just book your hotel in the close vicinity and walk to it!)
  3. Ticket price is 60 CNY April-October and 40 CNY Nov-March. The Treasure gallery, clock, and watch gallery all cost an extra CNY 10 each
  4. If you are in Beijing the day before you wish to visit, it is highly recommended to purchase your ticket the day before (as tickets DO sell out) and you can purchase tickets at a ticket window near the Meridian Gate. If you have Chinese friends or speak Chinese, you can purchase tickets online though a book website.
  5. You need to show your passport when buying tickets and will have to show your passport with your ticket when you visit.
  6. Opening hours: CLOSED ON MONDAYS!!! See hours below:
One of the many government buildings in the area
Once we exited out the Northern gate we walked a short ways away to a spot our driver could pick us back up, then it was only 5 minutes to our hotel where our tour was complete and we were able to check in. It was only about 2 or so but we were exhausted. (likely from another night on a train) so we ended up eating the snacks we’d bought from the train and hadn’t eaten yet for lunch and napped a while till it cooled off.
A beautiful cathedral we passed on our evening walk. (no surprise, there were people taking wedding photos outside)
We ventured back over to the Wangfujing shopping area ( a pleasant walk from our hotel) to do some more souvenir shopping with our last night (not to mention get another one of those fantastic Mcdonald’s ice cream cones and some dinner).
As the sun started setting, we wandered back toward the Forbidden City wall to walk along the outside moat and follow that back to our hotel. The area was quiet and peaceful and it was fun to see people actually fishing in the moat.
The moat makes for awesome photos in the evening!
Quiet shops opposite the moat and Forbidden City as we walked north.
The North gate at sunset
Looking down the moat at the East corner watch tower.
We had a short 5-10 minute walk back to our hotel and called it a day.

Day 8 costs:
Breakfast/lunch snacks from store previous day
Tour: $218.62 for 2 people on a private tour
Mcdonalds dinner/dessert: $5.38

Hotel: King Parkview hotel $67

Day 8 total: $291

Day 7- The Latest and Greatest (maybe) Disney

Bring it on Disney! This was our 4th Disney Park together (having already visited Disneyland Anaheim, Disneyland Paris, and Disneyworld in Orlando) and we were ready to see what the latest Disney park had to offer. 

Disney spirit at the metro stop


TIPS FOR VISITING SHANGHAI DISNEY
1. Download the Shanghai Disney app before hand. This app is handy for seeing wait times/ ride closures, a map, places to eat, OH and it’s the only way to select FAST PASSES.
2. Bring some cash. All of the restaurants accepted credit card but the little snack stands only accept cash. (and everyone knows you can’t go to Disney without getting some ice cream or popcorn)
3. DONT BOTHER STAYING ON PROPERTY. Seriously. You get to elect 1 FP about 30 days before hand and that’s it. There’s so many nicer affordable options and the metro drops you off at Disney’s door. Save some money here.
4. Purchase park tickets online: This way you can find the best deal/ discount codes and won’t have to wait in ticket queues once you get there.
5. This goes along with getting the App, but make sure you have a data plan for your Disney Day. The wifi was pretty awful in the park and not reliable at all. You NEED internet to get your FP and use the app.
6. Download a QR reader app as well. Most of the lines had QR scannable games to help the wait go by faster. (might need better internet than what we had too, I couldn’t even get an app to download in the first place.)
7. If staying until closing, buy your return metro tickets when you arrive so you won’t have to stand in the queues at the end of a long day just to get back to your hotel. 
8. Get a locker…. a lot of the rides don’t really have a great bag storage option. 
9. If you like to pin trade, bring along some pins! While I didn’t see an amazing different selection from what we have in the states, it’s still fun to do some trading.
10. Lastly, don’t listen to the reviews that say this park is DIRTY, people are RUDE, and that it is TOO CROWDED. While we were there on a weekday in the school year, people were very nice, the park was IMMACULATE, and even when it’s crowded you can still get fast passes to help with waits and the walkways are nice and wide. 
We loved it! (Though nothing quite compares to Disney World Orlando in my mind)
Our day started at 8:30 with an included breakfast from our B&B. They were so sweet about getting us lots of options and while breakfast again was pretty different, it did the job. (sugar helps with the rice porridge! Ha) Since we’d checked our bags the day before we didn’t have to worry about luggage (though our hosts would’ve stored bags for us) and our hosts were lovely enough to drive us to the park for free! 
It was raining a decent amount as we headed in but luckily we’d brought our rain jackets with us.
The entrance was very Disney with lots of music playing and lights. The first World of Disney store we came across I was in pin trading  and we were at the actual entrance just after opening at 9AM. Despite school starting and the rain the lines were a little long to get in. All we needed to go through the gate was our passport and electronic verification of our purchase. They printed the tickets at the gate and we were in.
As soon as we had tickets in hand, I signed in to the Shanghai Disney app to make our fast pass selection  which we selected the Tron coaster for in a little over 2 hours. Then we promptly found a locker to leave the small backpack we had brought with us and we were off, making a direct line for Pirates of the Caribbean. (the ride I was most excited for which also didn’t have Fast passes… so promptness to avoid a line was key) 
Exploring the lands of Pirates on a hot day: this misty play area would be pretty enticing… We were already wet enough as it was haha! 
Pirate Queen!
Alas as soon as we got to the ride we discovered it was closed for technical difficulties (though expected to open later…) so we meandered instead to Fantasy land.  
We stopped at a few spots for photo ops and decided to hit up the Peter Pan ride first. It was a fairly quick line (about 10 minutes) and just like the original.
Alice in Wonderland Maze
Next door was a boat ride through multiple kingdoms (like other parks that have a “story book” ride) which had a line of about 15 minutes, so that was next. It was a fun little ride with boats like the Jungle Cruise, and fun water show fountains and music along the path. The line moved really slow but it was an enjoyable ride so if you have a short wait… I’d say go for it. 
We hit up the Tron Coaster with our fast passes next. Their fast pass system was like Disney world. We pulled up the fast passes which showed a QR code which we scanned ourselves at the entrance to the FP line. The walk through line was VERY cool and once we joined up with the rest of the line it was only 5-10 minutes wait. The ride was one of our favorites too, as the seats are motorbike style and you get launched out at the beginning. Unlike Space mountain and other mini coasters, the design of the track was very smooth and avoided all “figure 8’s” for those of you who get sick with that style. (I’m looking at you dad) The screens on the inside track display your opponent light cyclist that you are racing and the sound effects are all perfect. 
Overall the only disappointing thing about this ride is that it isn’t long enough. Lol Even still, we rode it at LEAST 5 times to make up for that. 
It finally stopped raining! kind of…. 
The Shanghai Disney currently has the LARGEST castle of all the Disney parks at 197 feet (60 m) tall and unlike the other Disney parks, was designed to represent all of the Disney princesses. It is known as the Enchanted Storybook castle and has an interactive walk through of Snow White’s story (which we wasted like 20 minutes waiting in line for.. save your time) While the technology was cool and it’s always fun going into the castle, everything was in Chinese so even though it had interactive story exhibits.. it was just SO busy and not worth waiting for in my opinion. 
Next we rode the water ride in Adventure Isle (since we were wet from the rain anyways) which was reminiscent of California Adventure’s water raft adventure. You climb on board a giant circular raft and start praying you won’t be the one to get TOTALLY drenched because this ride… is all about that. Waterfalls, fun white water drops, and amazing animatronic monsters were the name of the game in this ride. Very cool technology again for the inside portion, and cool landscaping/ effects for the outside. 
Finally after this, pirates was open so we B-lined it over there. This ride tied Tron for favorite. It’s a lengthy ride with a cool line queue. Even with new high tech effects, it retained some nostalgic elements such as the “jail scene”, pirate ships firing out at you, and talking cross bones. There’s a good little “drop” in the dark as well. The new effects are giant 3-D like screens and the boat ROTATES around like in Haunted Mansion style so you are viewing everything you’re supposed to see. There’s real fire as well. Overall REALLY cool ride. We rode it probably 3-4 times and luckily only had to wait 20 minutes at its longest. 
*There’s no FP line for this ride.
Following the blue brick road through Treasure Cove
Lots of fun little shops and colorful photo ops in the Treasure Cove area next to Pirates. We had a lot of fun walking around and enjoying the “movie scene” feel. 

Entrance to the Pirate of the Caribbean restaurant called
Barbossa’s Bounty. 
Since we now successfully rode the rides we HAD to ride, we could take it a little easier… starting with a lunch break. Like Disneyland Anaheim, this POTC ride has a restaurant INSIDE the beginning of the ride so you can dine while watching the riders float by on the start of their journey. UNLIKE Anaheim, this is a quick bite location and much more affordable. That being said, it also probably had the best food options in the park. For only $12 I got a really good grilled squid with garlic rice that included a slushie drink. Braden tried the BBQ which was also good (though different style BBQ for sure) Ordering was easy and fast and you got to choose where you sat, which we lucked out and got a spot under the twinkling lights by the ride, but all of the styled rooms in this eatery were cool. Captain Jack was also walking around for photo ops so if you want to catch him, this is a good place to do it.
Dining tables in the largest room (by the ride) 
BBQ Chicken with rice and really good grilled squid with garlic rice
The canoeing “ride” that gave us a good laugh. They hand you a paddle but the boat is definitely on a track. It was entertaining to see people wait 30+ minutes for this experience. 
Cool themeing outside the POTC ride. 
Treasure Cove looking over at Adventure Isle’s water ride
After lunch we hit Tron again and realized we had to hit up Soarin around the world at some point. Because Orlando switched out their Soarin last year, we’d already gotten to ride this but it’s a good ride, and still worth checking out! The queue is way different, departing from the typical “aviation” that the other Soarins hone in on. It has a mystical line with a milky way sky winding around ruins. Plus the safety instructions video is a fun mystical lady who (I think) talks about soarin like an eagle as she transforms. So an interesting departure from the story.
Other attractions we did were the Winnie the Pooh ride(just like the other parks but in Chinese), and Rex’s Racer in Toy Story land which was a cool boomerang like coaster. (we waited longest for this ride, about 40 minutes.. but we’d ridden all the other rides of interest so thought, why not!)
We didn’t catch any of the shows (there seemed to be just a few like a Star Wars one and maybe one other) and unfortunately had to miss the night time spectacular. I did bring about 15 pins to trade but there seriously weren’t any really cool ones. The staff had pins just about everywhere but most were the same old ones you find in the US. (I only found 1 Shanghai specific pin) 
    
We headed out around 7 as we again had a train to catch (at 9:30 PM this time) and even though we’d gotten to hit everything we wanted to see, the magic of Disney at night is a whole story of its own and we were sad to leave. We grabbed dinner on our way out at the closest OPEN eatery. We wanted the Toy Story one but it closed earlier and the next option we wanted to try: Tangled, was to far out of the way. SO Pinnochio it was. They had a couple pizza options so Braden got an interesting BBQ Chicken one with doritos and peanuts on it? Lol and I had a safer margarita with balsamic glaze. They were both tasty, if a little weird. 
Walking out, it finally wasn’t raining, the twinkling lights were shining, Disney music playing, and overall just magical. Definitely made it hard to leave.
Entrance to Toy Story Land 
Always have to get some Disney Treat action! We tried this interesting style Corn Dog, their caramel popcorn (which the smell of throughout the park is practically intoxicating…) and of course Micky Ear icecream! They had both original and White Chocolate Strawberry which I couldn’t resist. SO GOOD. 
The castle at night 
Nigh time at Disney is always the most magical! 
One final glimpse behind us down Micky Avenue as we left the park.
It’s a short walk to the train station from the park and then navigating back to the same Shanghai train station was much easier this time. Still busy, but we didn’t have to squeeze on quite so dramatically. *Note if you plan on staying until closing at Disney, purchase your return metro tickets BEFORE going into the park. The queues to buy your ticket later won’t be any fun  to stand in after a full day at Disney.
 
Back at the Shanghai station, we went back to the luggage check to pick up our backpacks and then found our entrance/ waiting room. Once through security and in the station, we picked up a few more snacks and waters for the train ride (just in case). 
Our sleeper train this time was an express sleeper train, designed to get from Shanghai to Beijing in 12 hours (traveling at 156 mph) and thus much newer than our Huangshan-Shanghai train. While the beds were about the same (maybe cleaner but hard to say), this train actually provided toilet paper, and there was a lot more table space, nicer window shades in the compartment, and quieter sliding doors. The beds and bedding were about the same though this train made fewer stops and was a little smoother so sleeping was made easier.. kind of. We were bunked with a Chinese mother/daughter duo who didn’t really speak to us at all and the mom/ older lady? Spent a whole lot of time watching me which was a little uncomfortable. Lol but we made do and the next day we were back in Beijing! 
A look in our little compartment. We’d already folded up the comforters which are really nice, but you can see the table with a kettle and little bin. Both trains had the kettle so pro tip.. bring a thermos, bottle you can pour piping hot liquid into since the train itself only provides boiling hot water. 

Day 7 Costs:
Breakfast included in hotel stay
Luggage Storage(at Shanghai Train station) day 2 $8.74
Disney Tickets $116/2 people
Fancy Corn Dog $5.83
Pirates lunch $24.78
Icecream/popcorn snack $10.93
Pizza dinner at Pinnochio cafe $24.78
Metro to train station $1.75
Snacks for train $7.72

Hotel: Sleeper train $287/ 2 people

Day 7 Total: $487.53