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
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.
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)
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 around and the metro drops you off at Disney’s door. Save some money here.
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.
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.
Download a QR reader app as well. Most of the lines had QR scannable games to help the wait go by faster.
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.
Get a locker…. a lot of the rides don’t really have a great bag storage option.
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.
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.
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!
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
Where to eat at Shanghai Disneyland
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. (although all the seating areas looked 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. The queue is way different from either of the US Soarin rides, 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.
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 and 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 or 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 for 2 adults 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
Day 6- Exploring Shanghair from ancient water towns to modern skyscrapers: We wanted to see all we could in a day of what the Shanghai area had to offer.
The train from Huangshan dropped us off just short of 8AM at the Shanghai station.
*Note there are a few “shanghai” stations as well as airports so it’s important to know which one exactly you will be arriving at.
First matter of business was dropping our big packs off at a luggage storage so we wouldn’t have to lug them around all day. We took a random exit from the train station and found one right at the exit. (I think there are multiple) It was about $4/bag/day so we sorted out what we’d need for the next 2 days and said sayonara to our bags.
Next order of business: Mcdonalds for Breakfast. We went to a very cool underground Mcdonalds… you could say we felt very “hip” going here. Fed and happy we were ready to start exploring.
So now onto the fun stuff: Zhujiajiao Water Town! Don’t pay $200 for a private tour here, it was super easy to get to! (as easy as any metro goes that is) Unfortunately we were heading out during Shanghai’s morning rush hour, so it took us over 30 minutes to buy our tickets from the kiosks. * TIP: Pay attention down there to the top of the machine and whether you can pay with bills or need coins!
Tickets in hand, it was easy to follow the metro map, we only had 2 train transfers to worry about, but it still took around 90 minutes of travel to get to the Zhujiajiao station. Then it was another 10-15 minute walk using Google Maps as guidance to the start of the town.
*The cat statues pictured above signified our turn down to water town. The train station had signs to put you on the major street walking down, but then the signs were all gone and we had to rely on google.
Beautiful waterway right by the train station
Crossing the giant bridge into the water town
About Zhujiajiao Zhujiajiao is a water town on the outskirts of Shanghai, and was established about 1,700 years ago. There are numerous water pathways (no roads!) and thus many stone bridges: 36 in fact! Each one more beautiful than the next. While we visited for the bridges, other points of interest include: North Street: the best preserved ancient street with buildings that date back to the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912) Kezhi Yuan Garden: garden dating back to 1912 Qing Dynasty Post Office: exhibits include old post cards of Shanghai and letters written on bamboo Fangsheng Bridge: The main bridge coming into the town. It was built in 1812 and is said to be the largest stone arch bridge in Shanghai with five arches, about 230 feet (70 m) long, and 19 feet (5.8 m) tall.
While maybe not having a ton of other stuff to do activity wise, this little town is one peaceful village. We picked up some beautiful art for souvenirs, had a few drinks/ snacks as we meandered, and watched the little boats go up and down the canals. (We didn’t ourselves take a boat tour this time… it was just too hot, but if interested here’s some info: Boat Trips/Gondola Rides: Each gondola can hold 6 people. There are two kinds of trip – short distance and long distance. The short distance trip only takes passengers up and down the main canal price is about 80 yuan/per boat for about 10 minutes. The Long distance trip goes all over the town and back Price is 150 yuan/per boat. Tickets can be bought in the small wooden ticket booths by the docks
Views along the walkway. Some of the bridges are only 1 meter or under 3,5 feet wide!
If you are interested in visiting the gardens, post office, temples, or other historical buildings there is a small fee. The town/ bridges/ etc are free to enjoy visually but if you want to go in any of the historical buildings, visit the tourist info center for combo tickets.
Here’s a map of the “attractions” for reference
Highlights for me: Bridges and Willow Trees
Roof of the Buddhist Temple.
Time to head back to Shanghai
A carving we came across at one of the entrance points to the water town
Waterways you pass walking to and from the train station. The area is pretty scenic all around!
We headed back to the train/metro station which was a 10 minute walk back, and a short wait and then we were headed back to the city. We got off at the Dongchang Road Station and started exploring the skyscaper financial district.
. There are 2 buildings you can go to the top of in Shanghai that are popular: the older Shanghai Pearl TV station tower, and the newer Shanghai World Financial Center. The latter was cheaper so that’s the one we chose. We bought our tickets and walked through a short exhibit for the building itself, and the massive growth of Shanghai over the last couple of years.
Display at the start of World Financial Building tour
Then you hop in the elevator and ride (very quickly) to the 94th floor. Here they have a couple more exhibitist that are part of a different ticket, and you take the escalator up to floor 97. You can peep out the windows here, but the view is much better from the 2nd elevator ride up to the 100th floor so you may as well hold tight.
The building was also currently hosting a Studio Ghibli exhibit and so there were references to the movies in a few places along the normal “100th floor” visit. The exhibits were separate and fairly expensive so we held off on visiting figuring one day, we will visit the main exhibits in Japan/
Lots of people at the “very top”
It was crowded and hard to get any decent photos with me in them, but it was cool to look out at the sprawling expanse of buildings that make up Shanghai. (though I could’ve done without the smog which lowered the visibility somewhat)
You can see the other popular building, the Pearl TV tower in the background
After gawking at the view for a little while, we made the journey back down and found a pizza place in the restaurant/mall portion of the building for a lunch/dinner
More Studio Ghibli exhibit references on the escalator
After eating our fill, we headed out to continue our trek through the financial district to the river where our next stop was: The Bund. We walked to the Lujiazui station to ride one stop to the East Nanjing Road station. Since the Huangpu river is so wide, there aren’t any bridges in downtown! And so the only way to cross the river is via metro in a tunnel!
Amazing buildings we passed on our walk to the station
From the East Nanjing station it was a short 5-10 minute walk through shopping areas to the Bund photo area.
From here we got to admire the buildings we’d just come from (and visited the top of!) which was very cool. We’d considered doing a night cruise on the Huangpu river (which is generally considered a MUST DO) but we had a decent trek out of the city for our hotel that night so we called it a day around 6:30 and headed on our way…
Lots of people and other cool buildings at the Bund
Heading back to the station
Unfortunately we were headed to our hotel… in the MIDDLE OF RUSH HOUR.
Never before have I stood so close to other humans, or narrowly avoided being guillotined by subway doors. We had 2 connections we had to make and at both of them we had to wait for 2 trains before we could squeeze our way on. That being said, it did finally start to empty out after we cleared the main city center. We even ran into an end station for one line where everyone got off but us and we sat there like confused idiots when the train returned to the station we had been at prior. *facepalm BUT the next time we realized in order to continue on our line we had to GET OFF the train and cross the platform. Oh boy. Other than that, painless to take the metro all the way out to Disneyland Shanghai.
Once there, we walked out into the dark and after a little walking we found a lot of cars lined up that were essentially like uber taxi drivers. Our hotel was only 3 km for Disney but we didn’t want to chance walking in the dark so we paid a couple bucks to have a drive take us. Our hotel was sort of a converted house into a B&B and when we got there, no lights were on and there were several buildings to choose from. Our taxi driver looked at us like we were crazy when we got out… and we thought we were too. (seeing as there was literally a dude bathing outside at one of the buildings, and dogs barking at us everywhere)
Eventually after e-mailing and calling the property (about 10 minutes) the hotel owners came out to guide us in. And everything was peachy from there! We settled into our little room and prepped for our next Disney adventure exhausted but satisfied with everything we saw in one day.