Our last day at Shanghai Disneyland—June 18, 2016—turned into a test of patience, was bittersweet, and full of unforgettable memories in the course of 12 hours. If you haven’t already, read parts one, two, three, and our first impressions to get caught up . If you prefer to listen, then our podcast episodes covering Shanghai Disneyland and FAQs are perfect.
Here’s part 4 of our Grand Opening Trip Report to Shanghai Disneyland titled: THE FINAL.
Early Morning Doesn’t Get The Worm
You’d think waking up at the crack of dawn—okay 7AM—would help beat the crowds, but this wasn’t the case. I crawled out of bed (I didn’t get to sleep until around 1-2AM the night before), showered, and dragged myself to the bus stop just outside the hotel.
The plan was to meet Bryson for Park opening and knock off the big attractions. How wrong we were. Before the Park, I did my morning ritual of stopping at Starbucks to indulge in my Venti Iced Starbucks Latte.
I made it to the Park gates 10 minutes before it opened. Bryson had slept in, so I made the decision to get into the Park and wait there. If I described the line at the turnstiles as organised, that would be a lie. Once I got to the turnstiles it was a free-for-all. If you didn’t push your way through, others would, which meant I did as the locals do and made a way through (as politely as I could; my Canadian side came out) and got through the turnstiles.
FastPass Misfortune & Attraction Mishaps
While waiting for Bryson to arrive, I took myself on a small tour through Mickey Avenue to admire the detail and the Chip N Dale stand. Once Bryson survived the crowds at the turnstiles, we beelined it for Roaring Rapids for a FastPass, but we soon found out they weren’t being distributed. We decided to go to Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue in Tomorrowland instead. Our plan was to get a FastPass for TRON that allowed us to ride it after dark.
Buzz Lightyear is an updated version of AstroBlasters and I highly recommend it. With updated laser guns, story, and interior, it’s worth experiencing at least once.
Since this was my last day at the Park, we decided to wait in standby for Roaring Rapids—posted wait time was 120 minutes—otherwise I wouldn’t get to ride it. We grabbed Mickey Pretzels and drinks and hopped into line. We ran into Tom from the DisneyTouristBlog and Mark of Mark Willard Photography and decided to all wait together in the massive line.
The heat was sweltering and the air was still while waiting for Roaring Rapids, but we were in good company so the time flew by. After about an hour, we had a discussion about guest behaviour we saw in the Park—such as trash strung about and smoking where one shouldn’t be. Not five minutes later, a mother and grandmother helped their little 4-year-old boy go number 2 into a plastic bag right beside us. Now, I can say that I saw it all. At least it was a plastic bag and the grandma disposed of in the next trash can.
We neared the front of the queue when an announcement came on in Mandarin. By this point, I have learned to watch people’s reactions to seeing what was said. A collective groan erupted from the crowd, which told us the attraction had broken down. We asked around us to see if anyone spoke English. A young woman answered and told us that it had broken down and they are not sure when it’ll be back. Since we were so close to the front, we decided to stick it out for a bit.
About 10 minutes later, the line started to empty at a rapid rate. We flagged down a Cast Member to ask about the queue. Her English wasn’t that great, but I could tell she was trying her best to tell us the situation, which I appreciated. She struggled to explain, but we got the gist of what she meant. Before she could finish, a number of people—I want to say 3 to 4—started talking to her at the same time. The poor girl got overwhelmed and attempted to address everyone. She looked as if she was on the verge of tears. We thanked her profusely and decided to leave the line. We did ask if we could get a special FastPass for another attraction. She instructed us to head to Guest Services and they can issue one there.
A bit defeated, we made our way up to Guest Services at the front of the Park and explained what happened. Cast Members there spoke a high level of English. We received a special FastPass for TRON which was good for 4 guests, without any hassle. I call that a win.
Ferry & Lunch at Lumiére’s Kitchen
By this time, it was around 1PM and I needed to eat. We hopped on the ferry to the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel to meet up with the rest of the group at Lumiére’s Kitchen. I was underwhelmed by the ferry ride: the view was bland and it took a while to get loaded and unloaded. It was nice to say we did it at least once, though. If you want to get back to the hotel quick, I wouldn’t recommend waiting for the ferry. The hours also seemed rather sporadic and unpredictable (I hope this is addressed in the future).
We arrived late at Lumiére’s Kitchen just at the end of lunch, which made for an empty restaurant. Everyone else had just finished their meal. We sat down and ordered our main meals and added the buffet. The buffet offered a variety of seafood options and not much else. The desserts were plentiful, and since we were the last ones there, we didn’t have to fight for everything. Theming in the restaurant was spot on and a perfect balance between Disney’s Beauty & the Beast and elegant dining decor.
After we cleaned out the buffet and desserts, the only course of action was taking that infamous Disney Afternoon break. We headed over to the Toy Story Hotel to relax, and of course take more photos.
Perfect Sunset in the Gardens of Imagination
The Enchanted Storybook Castle is stunning during sunset. We made it back to the Park just in time to snap a couple of photos. I am not a photographer, so I have to say I was rather proud of the outcome. Everyone in the group was exhausted from the past few days, so we didn’t accomplish a lot. What’s the best thing to do when you’re tired? That’s right, you head over to Pirates and get into the 5-minute standby line! Much like Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland, it’s tough to grow tired of this attraction.
Dinner at the Wandering Moon Teahouse
I love to eat (who doesn’t) and I made a point to eat at two different restaurants every day. For dinner, I decided that the Wandering Moon Teahouse was a perfect way to end the last night in the Park. This is a lavish counter service restaurant just outside the Gardens of Imagination with stunning Chinese architecture, making it the most beautiful quick service restaurant in the Park. The photos speak for themselves.
There are different themed seating areas, all of which offer a beautiful view of the Garden. I highly recommend dining in the evening for an enhanced view. The food offerings are catered to local tastes—meaning you won’t find burgers and fries here. I ordered the pork belly bowl, which was decent for theme park food. Not my favourite, but not the worst either. I would go for the theming alone and not the food.
Meet N Greets with Mickey & Captain America
Analyzing our terrible track record for attractions for the day, I figured wandering around and experiencing other aspects of the Park was a good bet. TRON was still down and we gave up on trying with our special FastPass—I wanted to ride it in the evening.
On the opposite side of the Gardens of Imagination from Wandering Moon Teahouse is Mickey’s Meet N Greet. There was no wait time, so we figured why not? Aside from meeting Mickey in his new look—who can resist having a grin when meeting him—the queue inside is top-notch. The first section of the queue has high-tech special effects in the walls. Once you get to the inner queue, lining the walls are portraits of the various castles in all the Disney Parks across the world. My favourite was Disneyland Park, only because Chip N Dale were featured. Sorry, Tokyo Disneyland, but those Chipmunks steal my heart every single time.
Next, on our Meet N Greet tour, we paid a visit to Captain America and Spiderman in the Marvel area. There was no one around, so we got to walk right up. Good thing I do squats at the gym, otherwise this photo with Spiderman may have ended in a disaster.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Mishap
Remember when I mentioned not having luck with attractions? You can add Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to that list, too. I haven’t had the chance to ride the one in the Magic Kingdom, so I was excited. We waited about 30 minutes in the line when an announcement came on—again judging by everyone’s reactions—indicating the ride had experienced technical difficulties. The line was dumped and Cast Members handed out FastPasses for other attractions for the next day. Talk about bad luck!
To combat the “I swear every attraction broke on me today” blues, we headed back over to our trusted friend, Pirates of the Caribbean, which has never let me down.
Cocktails at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel
By the time we finished Pirates, the Park was almost closed. To make the feeling last as long as possible, we soaked up the atmosphere around the Park. I just didn’t want to leave, but when security starts to usher you towards the front of the Park, you don’t have a choice.
Our group had broken off into smaller components all day but congregated at the front of the Park. Everyone was exhausted and ready for bed. I said “see you soon” to some in the group. Before heading off to sleep, a few of us stopped for a cocktail at the Lounge in the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, which was a perfect way to end the day.
Leaving Shanghai Disneyland
Once I woke up the next morning, the feeling of not wanting to leave was overwhelming. I contemplated changing my flight to a later one so I could go back to the Park for a few more hours. But I knew it was time to go and I would be back! Before heading off to the airport, I grabbed a lovely breakfast at the Ballet Café right in the hotel. My friend Derek and I enjoyed the view while munching on carrot cakes and steamed buns.
The easiest way to the airport is via taxi. I asked the front desk to hail one for me and had them write down the cost. Have someone write down the cost for you, so the taxi driver has a harder time overcharging you. That has never happened to me, but is known to occur. The ride cost about 120 yuan.
Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Experience
What an incredible three days this entire experience was! The best things in life are unplanned and unexpected. While I had an idea that this trip was a once in a lifetime experience, nothing prepared me for the extraordinary people I shared this trip with. To my friends old and new, you made this trip unforgettable and I cannot thank you enough. From the pushing and shoving through the crowds, to the pure joy on everyone’s faces after we rode Pirates of the Caribbean for the first time, this was a trip that will always be close to my heart.
Thank you, Shanghai.
Bonus: Vlog of Shanghai Disneyland
To thank all our loyal readers who stuck it out this far on our journey, here’s a short vlog during our time at Shanghai Disneyland for the Grand Opening.