We have a tradition in our family of visiting Disneyland once every three years to celebrate our son’s birthday. Since we are now living in Sydney we decided to check out the newest location in Shanghai. At the time of booking our holiday, we found it incredibly difficult to find any helpful information online at all about other people’s experiences at Shanghai Disneyland. No reviews, no detailed information about securing tickets, not very much at all. I enquired with travel agent friends and experts as to what exactly is the deal for purchasing tickets and no one had any experience or insight to share. I am writing this with the hope that it helps another family visit Shanghai Disneyland to enjoy it as much as we did. This has been by far our most favourite Disney adventure. When I asked my family members why they thought this was the best Disneyland park it was unanimously the culture, the food and the upgraded rides.
Purchasing Tickets – Tickets can be purchased on Shanghai Disneyland’s website up to 6 weeks in advance. The cost for an adult over 1.4 meters is roughly $75 AUD or 370 CNY. Child prices are 270 CNY or $57 AUD. You will first need to set up an account on their website before purchasing your park tickets. Ours were then sent via mobile phone as the park is all electronic. Tickets are scanned right from your handheld device to gain entrance. You will also need to bring your passport with you as proof of id. In fact, every member of your party must bring their passports to enter.
We were worried about booking tickets that close to traveling, especially given we would visit China during Golden Week, the most travelled week of the year for Chinese people. Schools were out of session and Disneyland was expected to be very busy. I looked online to see if there was some way to purchase tickets earlier but no luck. I turned to a travel agency and found that I could buy tickets in advance through them at three times the cost. What would normally cost a family of five to visit for one day ($300 AUD) would now cost $900. Was it worth it to have the security for my son’s birthday and our entire trip to China hanging in the balance? Nope, I couldn’t bring myself to pay such a high mark up. I decided we would gamble and book tickets at midnight when they went on sale.
We had hoped to have a two-day ticket so in the end we waited until the second day was available to purchase online for the pass and it worked out completely fine. Tickets bought at face value, vacation saved.
The Shanghai Disney App – a must when visiting the park to find queue times, use to secure your fast passes for available rides, find maps and character picture opportunities. It worked flawlessly within the boundaries of the park and we used it literally the entire time we were there. Download it here.
Fastpass – If the line for your ride is too long choose to Fastpass it. Select a time to come back later and hop right on. We were able to use this while visiting a max of two times per day. As soon as we entered the park and were able to access the Disneyland App we would Fastpass a popular ride while heading for the shorter queue of another.
A link to Fastpass instructions for creating groups and usage in general: https://www.shanghaidisneyresort.com/en/guest-services/fastpass/
Rides available for Fastpass at Shanghai Disneyland:
- TRON Lightcycle Power Run – Tomorrowland
- Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue – Tomorrowland
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Fantasyland
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh – Fantasyland
- Peter Pan’s Flight – Fantasyland
- Roaring Rapids – Adventure Isle
- Soaring Over the Horizon – Adventure Isle
Dining – We found the food to be of much better quality than the traditional DL fare. We expected pizza and hamburgers and were surprised to find higher end restaurants in Disney town like The Blue Frog, Wolfgang Puck, Shanghai Min, The Cheesecake Factory, and even Starbucks. The kiosks and cafes throughout the park also had some good food options unlike the subpar food we’ve unfortunately come to expect at all Disneyland parks. They do offer some American staples but most stalls serve up local goodness like mapo tofu bento and savoury diced chicken bento. You would think Paris Disney would offer real food given its location but it’s all processed garbage. Shanghai was completely the opposite, what a gift! Overall, I think the typical American junk food diet would not fly here in China, thank goodness!
Public Transportation – So easy, Disneyland has its own stop on Metro Line 11 operating between 7 am and 11:30pm. The tickets are inexpensive from the centre of Shanghai at about $1 AUD per person for a single ride.
New Rides – We loved the experience of having mandarin audio tracks on our beloved rides in addition to seeing the attraction’s entrance adorned in traditional Chinese characters – this made it all that much more captivating. Many of our favourites had been improved and modernised including Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan’s Flight. The new special effects were very impressive and unexpected having been to several DL’s and anticipating more of the same. There were also all together new attractions such as Soaring over the Horizon and Tron Lightcycle Power Run both of which were fabulous.
Disney Premier Access – a godsend on a busy day. It cost us more money but we managed all the rides we wanted and skipped the queues. So worth it on a busy day when the lines had 4-hour wait times. It worked just like a fast pass for all of the premier rides at the park giving you priority access. We were able to upgrade at Guest Services once we entered the park. Regular to peak pricing is 480-600 RMB or $100-$124 AUD per person.
Toilets – Large modern restrooms with options of Western or Chinese toilets. The Western ones, the porcelain variety we were accustomed to, were always tucked away in the back of the ladies room. They waited empty as the locals lined up anxious for their preferred hole in the ground. How funny, while free bathrooms sat empty. We did not complain. Simple pleasures.
Magic Time – Guests of the Shanghai Disneyland Resort hotels gain “priority entrance” into the park each morning. It seemed unclear to me from what I’ve read that you are allowed to enjoy the rides before the park opens at 10am as other DL parks do. We’ve always considered the magic hour a huge bonus to get some of our favourite rides in before the park became crowded. At the time of booking our holiday you could enter the park earlier than the general public but the rides did not commence until 10am. Hopefully this will change in the future. Instead of staying at the resort we opted for an apartment through Airbnb in town and commuted in each morning.
What we noticed:
The largest fairy tale castle we have ever seen. The designers really wanted to outdo all other DL parks with this one. Wow! We couldn’t get over the size and couldn’t help but to comment on it repeatedly.
Very few western visitors – when we saw another white couple or family our eyes locked across the crowd immediately. An interesting side note.
Queuing is Chinese-style and there will be no personal space. Get over it and enjoy being in a foreign land and all the quirkiness that comes with it. It is not pushy or malicious, no one will try to pick pocket you. At least that was our experience.
Many, many people wanted to take photos with our kids. This especially happened if we stopped moving. I think people felt more comfortable approaching us if we were standing still or sitting. It happened less if we were strolling.
Shanghai Disneyland was an awesome family holiday. We would definitely go back again but we try not to repeat…perhaps Tokyo for us next time?