The newest Disney resort in over a decade will open its gates on June 16, 2016 in Shanghai, China. News reports have given us a glimpse at some of the amazing magical features Shanghai Disneyland Park will contain, and for die-hard Disney Parks fans, visiting this new resort is a must do!
While Hong Kong, Tokyo, Paris, Anaheim and Florida are all relatively easy to use for many world travellers because of minimal visa restrictions for visiting the countries where they’re located, Shanghai Disney Resort is unique. With only a few exceptions, most visitors to China will need to apply for and receive a Chinese entry visa before getting on an airplane.
Here are some basics you need to know about visiting Shanghai Disney Resort.
Getting a Chinese Visa
What is a Visa?
Typically, a visa is a special document or sticker which is applied for through an embassy or consulate for the country you wish to visit. Once processed, the visa is inserted into your passport in advance of a visit.
When passing through an immigration officer upon arrival, the document or sticker will be inspected and then stamped, showing you’ve been allowed to come into the country. Upon departure, the visa may be stamped again to invalidate it for future use.
What is Visa-Free Entry?
The United States, Japan, France and Hong Kong typically offer what is called “visa-free entry” to passport holders from a number countries. If the country you hold a passport for is allowed visa free entry, you do not need to contact an embassy or consulate in advance of your trip, and you do not need a special sticker or document inserted in your passport to permit your entry in to the country.
Visa-Free Entry and China
China requires most foreign visitors to receive government approval – in the form of a tourist travel visa – in advance to visit.
As of this writing, according to Wikitravel.org, China offers “visa-free entry” for tourism to the following small list of countries :
- 15 day visa-free entry for citizens and passport holders of Brunei, Japan and Singapore
- 30 day visa-free entry for citizens and passport holders of Seychelles, Mauritius, Bahamas, Fiji and Grenada
- 90 day visa-free entry for citizens and passport holders of San Marino
In addition, residents and passport holders of the following countries can enter China “visa-free,” provided they have a special “for public affairs” endorsement in their passport from the Chinese government : Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cuba, Georgia, Guyana, Laos, Macedonia, Moldova, Mongolia, North Korea, Pakistan, Serbia, Tajikstan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Vietnam.
If your country is mentioned above, you are permitted to enter China without getting a visa in advance – which is great news for our Japanese readers (among others) who plan on visiting Shanghai Disney Resort!
For Everyone Else
If you don’t qualify for “visa-free entry” to China, you will need to apply for and receive a Chinese visa in your passport before leaving for your trip. There are many different types of Chinese entry visas, but the one we’ll be talking about today is the “L” class tourism visa.
Before applying for a visa, you’ll need to get a few things in order.
1. You need a passport for your country of citizenship.
And, you need to check a few things in your passport. Notably, your passport needs to have at least six months of validity remaining in it (this can be found on what’s commonly called the “photo identification” or “photo information” page), as well as blank pages so that a visa can be inserted and so the passport can be stamped upon arrival.
2. Say cheese.
You’ll need to get a colour passport-sized photo taken to include with your visa application. These should be “bare head, full face, against a light background” (as per the Chinese embassy website).
Certain photo shops which specialize in taking photos for passports may even have the photo requirements for specific visas on hand to make sure the photo is taken properly. Be sure to let them know that you are getting photos taken for a Chinese visa application.
3. Book your flights and hotel reservations.
Before you can apply for a visa, you will need to secure a round-trip ticket to-and-from Shanghai as well as a hotel reservation for the duration of your stay. You’ll need to include proof of these reservations along with your visa application.
4. Special notes for visitors with Chinese family backgrounds.
If you’ve held a Chinese passport in the past or if you were once a Chinese national but have obtained citizenship in another country, there is extra paperwork you’ll need to get together. For details, check with your local Chinese embassy or consulate.
Applying for Your Visa
For citizens of Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Korea, The Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey and the United Kingdom, the Chinese government has set up a website to help you fill out all the necessary information to apply for your visa. We suggest using this tool to make your Visa application.
For citizens of the United States, application information is found on the US Chinese Embassy’s website, along with the locations of offices where applications can be turned in.
For citizens of Japan, if you intend to stay in China longer than 15 days, you will need to apply for a tourist visa. More information is found on the local Chinese Embassy’s website.
If we have not mentioned your country, be sure to contact your nearest Chinese embassy or consulate for details on how they prefer you apply for a visa.
Things to Know About Visas
In many cases, westerners will either need to apply in person at Chinese embassies or visa offices, or will need to send away their passport by mail or courier to the nearest embassy or consulate. Details on this process are on the websites listed above.
Once you get your passport back, there will be a special sticker pasted into one of the pages of your passport. When you enter China by air, the immigration officer will look for this page in your passport in order to stamp you in to the country.
There are different durations and permissions you can buy while getting your visa. If you are a longer-term traveller and want to travel between China and other places, you may want to buy a double-entry, or multiple entry visa. If you are simply going to visit Shanghai Disney Resort and don’t plan to go in-and-out of China over a period of time, a single entry visa will suffice (although once you leave China, you will not be allowed back in unless you apply for and receive a new visa).
Depending on the location of your embassy or visa processing office, expect your visa application to be processed within a week – possibly less time. Check the Chinese embassy website for your country as delays in processing visas are often posted as information.
Once You Get to Shanghai…
First of all… you lucky duck! You’re getting the chance to experience one of the most-anticipated new Disney parks ever!
Here is some basic survival information you need to know about Shanghai and China.
- China uses the Yuan as its currency, and uses the same symbol as the Japanese yen (¥). As of this writing, here is a rough guide to currency conversion :
JP¥100 = CN¥5.75
US$1 = CN¥6.50
AU$1 = CN¥4.85
NZ$1 = CN¥4.35
CA$1 = CN¥4.91
- We’re still awaiting more details from Disney Parks on ways to get to Shanghai Disney Resort. However, according to their website, it will be possible to get to the resort using the Shanghai Metro train service, with the resort being the last stop on line 11.
- For Disney fans who are used to Tweeting, Facebooking and Instagramming every moment of their lives, a visit to Shanghai will require you to adjust your habits. Chinese Internet connections block access to many western social media networks including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and some popular messaging applications like LINE and Facebook Messenger. Google is also blocked – which is important if you rely on Google Mail. To see if a website or service you rely on is blocked in China, we suggest using this website to find out.
- For more on the greater Shanghai region, and the tourism and travel opportunities it offers, be sure to check out Wikitravel’s guide!
Visiting Shanghai in Transit
One more thing we should mention is that if you are in transit between one place and another and you have a connecting flight or onward ticket through Shanghai, it is possible to visit without obtaining a visa. Visitors from a number of countries are eligible for a special 72-hour transit and 144-transit (thanks Isaac!) visit, however a series of conditions apply to being eligible. For more information, visit this website.
The information we’ve provided in this article is intended to be a basic guide to help you begin to plan your visit to Shanghai Disney Resort.
Every country has different rules and requirements by the Chinese government. We strongly encourage you to contact the Chinese consulate or embassy in your country – or visit their website – for detailed and up-to-date information on what is required for you to enter China.
If you’re planning to go to Shanghai Disney Resort, let us know how your trip planning is going by either sending us an e-mail or by replying in the comments below!