In the summer of 2018 my partner and I visited the Shanghai Disney Resort as part of a two-week trip to the Chinese city Shanghai. In seven articles, appearing every weekend here at wdwnt.com, I will share our adventure through this newest Disney Resort that opened in 2016. I am writing about the park and its theming, Disneytown, and the hotels. This week I start with the preparations, the city of Shanghai, and getting to the resort.
Preparing the trip
In January 2018, my partner and I decided that we wanted to visit a famous city in Asia. We picked several cities in China and Japan, and we looked at their pros and cons. Especially for me it would be a huge pro if there was a Disney Resort that we could explore. Eventually we chose Shanghai since China is relatively cheap in comparison to Japan and because Shanghai Disneyland was only open for two years, so we had a state-of-the-art resort waiting for us.
When visiting China, you need to have a visa. I believe it is a relatively complicated procedure for this country, but if you take some time to select and book your flights and hotels (we did this with western travel websites) you should be able to fill in all the details you need in order to receive a visa. In the Netherlands, they recommended several vaccinations for our trip. I am not sure how this is for U.S.-residents, but this might be something to check for yourself.
When arriving in China, they save your fingerprints and of course check your passport with your visa. After these ‘standard’ procedures, you’re in!
Shanghai is a beautiful, dynamic city. However, it can be very crowded. Walking from East Nanjing Road, the main shopping street of Shanghai were our hotel was located, to the Bund, a viewing platform for the skyline of the city, could take around thirty minutes while it was actually a ten to twelve-minute walk. There are so many people on the well-known streets that walking becomes nearly impossible.
In this light, be prepared for impatient behavior in the metro. The metro is a very fast and trustworthy way of moving through the city, but local people will not let people get out at their stations before they start pouring in themselves. On busy moments, this can create situations where you have a struggle to get out when you need to. A pro is that the metro is very cheap. Getting from the airport to the city, or from the city to the Shanghai Disney Resort costs around $1. Both trips last for about an hour.
We visited in a very warm period, so drinking a lot of water was necessary. Locals drink Chinese tap water. For western people however, it is not advised to do so. All the hotels we stayed in provided enough bottled water, so you do not have to worry about that. Most of the buildings have air-conditioning, so you can walk around malls, for example, if you want to cool off.
When in Shanghai, make sure to visit the skyscrapers in Pudong, the French Concession with its European history, and the Yuyuan Gardens in the Old Town. The city has some very beautiful sights to offer and you should not hesitate to go out on an adventure and to see those for yourself. And if you have (a touch of) blond (in your) hair, do not be surprised by Chinese people that want to take a photo with you. You have probably heard the stories and yes, they are definitely true!
Pudong also has the largest Disney Store in the world. It has a clock tower in front of it, and every once in a while, dolls of famous Disney, Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars characters come out to perform a short dance.
Arriving at the Shanghai Disney Resort
We were spending four days at the Shanghai Disney Resort as part of a two-week trip and we went to the park in the middle of our trip, from Monday till Thursday in the second week. We decided to stay two nights at the Toy Story Hotel and one night in the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. It was cheaper for us to get a Seasonal Pass (the Chinese version of an Annual Pass, only for selected seasons) than to buy separate tickets for each day.
I will have a trip report of the two hotels coming your way in a couple of weeks. For now, I only want to say something about booking rooms. We did this around three months in advance and the website works perfectly when booking hotels. You can select in what sort of room you want to stay and if you want breakfast or not.
The Seasonal Pass was another story. The only way to reserve one of these for the spring/summer season as someone who does not speak Chinese was over the phone. I had already reserved the Royal Banquet Hall restaurant in the Enchanted Storybook Castle over the phone and that went well, so I did not think getting the Seasonal Passes was very hard. However, it turned out to be a little more difficult than I thought.
It took me some calls before I could speak to a Cast Member that spoke English well enough to help me with the process. I provided my details, paid with my credit card and tried to spell out my e-mail address so I could receive a confirmation. It turned out this was pretty hard, especially because English is not my native language and the level of English in China we experienced is not very high. I did not receive any confirmation.
It took me another call to solve the e-mail issue, explaining the situation carefully. Calling to China is not cheap, and these phone calls cost me almost the difference between a Seasonal Pass and separate tickets. But, with many thanks to friendly Cast Members, it worked out eventually, and we were expected to collect our passes at the ticket booths once we arrived.
Still not very secure everything was correct and wanting to avoid a discussion when hundreds of Chinese people were waiting to get in after us, we decided to fill one afternoon in our first week with a visit to the Shanghai Disney Resort just to collect our passes. Fortunately, everything was all right and we received our Seasonal Passes.
Having those, standing in front of a Disney Resort, we of course decided to go in. We took a stroll down Mickey Avenue, walked through the Gardens of Imagination and watched the Mickey’s Storybook Express parade. I will tell you everything about these new lands next weekend, so stay tuned!
If you have any questions regarding my trip or the Shanghai Disney Resort, do not hesitate to contact me at [email protected]