The third part of our Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report—that’s quite the mouthful I admit—takes us into our second full day at the Park. If you haven’t already, get caught up with parts one and two, which covers the first full day of the Park’s opening and bits about Shanghai itself. (Also check out our 2-hour podcast and FAQ session on the TDRNow Podcast). On our second day—June 17, 2016—the Park opened at 8AM, as opposed to the 12:00PM opening on Grand Opening Day. With that logic, you’d think we would get a lot more done in the day. As luck would have it, we did not get as much done as we wanted due to a variety of factors that one simply can’t plan for.
All right, let’s get on with part three of our Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report!
The beds in the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel were soft, comfortable, and were wonderful to sleep in, making it quite difficult to pull me out of bed. Thankfully, my Shanghai bunk buddies were kind enough to allow me to sleep-in as the rest of them got ready one-by-one (seriously, thank you). As I was awoken at roughly 7AM, it took me a minute to gather myself and figure out where I actually was. You know that feeling when you wake up and have no idea where or who you are? That’s exactly what I was feeling. Once I gathered myself, I quickly checked my phone (have to check on my Twitter friends) and got ready for the day.
Starbucks in Disneytown
We wasted no time at the hotel and didn’t even grab breakfast before leaving. We hopped on the bus and made our way to Disneytown. Thankfully, a Starbucks is right in Disneytown and you pass it on your way to the Park’s entrance. Naturally, if there is a Starbucks, yours truly is required to stop there (it has nothing to do with my need for coffee to avoid getting headaches, not at all). Got my usual venti iced latte, and we headed off to get into the Park, which ended up being more of a challenge than we had hoped.
Getting into the Park
Unlike the previous day, getting through security was a breeze. Getting through the turnstiles into the Park, however, turned into an hour-long endeavor, which was something I was not expecting. I did expect more guests than the day before, but not taking over an hour to get into Shanghai Disneyland. All the turnstiles were open, from what I could see, but it moved at a snail’s pace. This I alluded to a couple of things; guests not entirely sure how it works and the crowding of the turnstiles trying to get in first.
I am not used to pushing to get where I need to be, but this was almost a necessity when we reached the turnstiles. If you don’t stand your ground, people will go ahead of you without hesitation. I can admit that it made me uncomfortable having to push, but since a majority of the people were doing it, that guilt subsided rather quickly. Now, when I say “push” I don’t mean pushing and shoving like you would see on Boxing Day or Black Friday, but more of an “I am going next” mentality. It wasn’t aggressive in any way, just something you may need to do from time to time. With time, this rush of the turnstiles and confusion will hopefully subside a bit as Cast Members and guests get used to how it all works.
After an hour in the heat, we all made it through unscathed and it was time to grab FastPasses for our first attraction.
TRON Standby & Soaring FastPass
Soaring Over the Horizon’s line moves slowly, so our plan of attack had someone from the group who didn’t want to ride TRON grab FastPasses for that while the rest of us got a ride on the lightcycle in before lunchtime. To our dismay, TRON was not operating when we got there, so we decided to take a washroom and water break.
While waiting for the rest of the group, I noticed a few guests not adhering to the clearly posted signs which read “No Smoking” in front of the washrooms in Tomorrowland. There was smoking occurring in both the washroom and just outside of it. One of the guests decided to use the plastic recycle bin as an ashtray. Needless to say, I was not a fan of this behaviour. I can—somewhat—forgive smoking outside, but in the washroom is not something I care for at all. I am hoping in the future this rule is more strongly enforced, as it seemed it was merely a suggestion and not a rule.
After breathing in all the fresh air, we regrouped and headed over to arguably the best attraction at Shanghai Disneyland (actually, it’s more fact), Pirates of the Caribbean.
Lunch at Stargazer Grill
Everyone decided that having lunch at the Stargazer Grill in Tomorrowland was ideal since we could get into the standby line for TRON—it opened back up while we were on Pirates. This quick service restaurant serves burgers, fries, chicken, and (my personal favourite) BBQ Pulled Pork! The restaurant, which overlooks Tomorrowland, boasts seating inside and out. We opted for the inside since it was scorching outside.
I opted for the BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich (no surprise there) with fries and a Pepsi. You read that correctly, a Pepsi. Coke is not sold in Mainland China, which is a difficult concept to wrap my head around. There are a few reasons for this, which are better explained—and past the scope of this trip report—in various articles.
The BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwich was the best decision—all right, maybe the second best—I made. Not only was it juicy, it was filled to the brim with that delicious BBQ flavour. My only complaint is there was too much bun for my preference. I tend to avoid consuming large amounts of bread, but I don’t like wasting food, so I ate it all. The bun was tasty, just too much of it. Another friend of mine had the fried chicken, which arguably tasted similar to KFC. While I never got to try the juicy chicken, it looked delicious and I took her word for it.
Glitch in the Grid
After licking my fingers clean of the delicious BBQ sauce and washing it all down with a Pepsi—seriously, I had a hard time processing not having a Coke—we jumped into standby for TRON. The standby line moved at a snail’s pace because of the FastPass line, which was backed up because it was down for a while. The posted standby was 60 minutes, but by the time we got through, it was at least 90 minutes. But TRON was spectacular as always, which is evident, once again, in our PhotoPass photo.
Star Wars Launch Bay
The heat was coming down hard and we all needed some shade, and the Star Wars Launch Bay was a perfect place to do so. I didn’t do much here, but Star Wars fans will appreciate this corner of Tomorrowland. It’s tucked away in the back and is easily missed if you are not paying attention. I did, however, meet Kylo Ren and had zero clues what he was saying—or commanding—since he only spoke in Mandarin. I did, however, get a nifty photo.
Toy Story Hotel Tour
By now it was mid-afternoon and we needed to take a break outside of the Park. I could have opted to head back to the Shanghai Hotel, but I wanted to see what the story was with the Toy Story Hotel. We spent the afternoon hanging around the hotel taking photos and running into a couple of familiar faces.
The hotel itself is no-frills in terms of detail, but for the “cheaper” option for a Disney Hotel on property, it’s decent. The big box exterior is jarring at first, but I am a fan of it. The hotel—to me, anyway—is a place to sleep and continue the immersive Disney experience while on vacation. I absolutely loved the cheesy front entrance, which looks like a cardboard box which you enter.
Dinner at Royal Banquet Hall
After the afternoon tour of the Toy Story Hotel, it was time for our dinner at the Royal Banquet Hall. Shoutout to Bryson, who was able to change their reservation from two people to six. He made the reservation months in advance over the phone.
We took the bus from the Toy Story Hotel to the Park and walked to the restaurant. From door to door, this took us a good 45 minutes, if not closer to an hour. The lesson here is that the time it takes to get back to the Park is at least 30 minutes. The dinner itself was immensely enjoyable and the food wasn’t too bad, either. We ran into a couple headaches with the reservation, which you can read the details in our full review of the Royal Banquet Hall.
Soaring Over the Horizon
After our royal feast, it was time for our FastPass for Soaring Over The Horizon. Only two of us were going this time. When we arrived at the entrance there were security guards checking FastPasses, which was odd and I am still not sure why they had them instead of Cast Members (my guess is staffing issues). Having that FastPass made all the difference (compared to the day before) and we got through the queue in about an hour. The attraction did stop a couple of times while waiting. A father and daughter (she was maybe 5-6 years old) stood in front of us and we struck up a conversation. They spoke fluent English and Mandarin (they live in Singapore) and told us what the announcements were when they came on. One of which was the Cast Members telling guests to “Please do not sit on the railings,” which I found rather amusing.
The group of us got grouped together when we got into the pre-boarding area. When we rode Soaring the previous day, I had no idea what was being said during the pre-show. The little girl took it upon herself to translate it into English for us during the show. When she didn’t know a word, she asked her Dad, then continued without missing a beat. It was the cutest thing and made our evening.
Soaring did not halt or break down while onboard this time around, which is all you can ask for.
Deadlock in Gardens of Imagination
Ignite the Dream was about to start and I needed to get to Disneytown to meet up with friends of mine for an adult beverage. The original plan was to walk around the Gardens of Imagination to avoid the crowds there. Bryson suggested the quickest route is cutting through the Garden. I figured since the show hasn’t started yet it would be easy. How wrong we were.
While there was a clear path to walk through the Gardens of Imagination as people waited for the show, that quickly disappeared the second the show started. Everyone stopped where they stood and we became stuck where we stood. There was no crowd control to keep the people moving. We made the best out of the situation and had a decent viewing of the show.
Now, I saw photos online of guests sitting in the flower beds and areas where they shouldn’t be, but never witnessed it up until this point. Behind us was a fenced-off garden with flowers. No sooner did the show start, people climbed the fence and stood in the flower beds. It takes a lot to bother me, but this did quite a bit—more than I thought it would. All I could think of was the Cast Members who groomed that flower bed to perfection and now it was being stood on when it shouldn’t have been. I do hope in the future they have additional Cast Members around to ask guests not to stand there.
After the show ended the crowd dispersed, and I scooted off to meet my friends in Disneytown for a beverage. We have met in Tokyo, California, and now Shanghai. It’s insane to think of all the amazing places we have had the opportunity to meet up!
Photo Tour of Shanghai Disneyland Park
I made my way back to the Park and used the Disneytown Entrance, which I highly recommend using. It’s between Mickey Avenue and Tomorrowland. The Park was closing relatively soon, so I decided a photo walk tour was in order. My trusty sidekick Bryson and I did a couple laps around the Park until they began closing off areas and ushering us to Mickey Avenue.
What’s the end of the day without shopping? I picked up souvenirs for family and friends, and a little something for myself as well. Everyone in the group decompressed with ice cream and cold drinks on Mickey Avenue to talk about our day. A couple of readers and listeners of TDRExplorer and TDRNow came up to us to introduce themselves—it was fantastic meeting all of you!
Shanghai Disneyland Hotel Lobby
After spending my hard-earned cash, it was time to head back to the hotel. Taking the bus was easy and painless. By this time, the ferry to the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel was closed. A group of us hung out in the lobby admiring the view and discussing our experiences so far.
Taxi to Toy Story Hotel
One of our friends was staying at the Toy Story Hotel and the buses had stopped running by that point. There are buses that run to the Park, but also between the hotels. We asked the front desk if they could summon a taxi to head to the Toy Story Hotel. It was no problem and it cost our friend about 15 yuan ($2.20 USD).
What an exhausting but exciting second day at the Park! From dining inside the Enchanted Storybook Castle to experiencing deadlock in the Gardens of Imagination, I couldn’t have asked for a better day spending it with such great company.
Our next and final day, we got to experience taking the ferry from the Park to Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and asking Guest Services for FastPasses due to an attraction breaking down on us.
If you haven’t already, check out our first impressions of Shanghai Disneyland and also our special podcast episodes! Also, don’t forget to check our parts one and two of our Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report.