How to Get Into China and Visit Shanghai Disney Resort
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!
One other note to consider: for certain regions of China, including Shanghai, a 144-hour (6 day) visa is available to those transiting between two other countries in certain cases. (And Hong Kong counts as a “country” for these purposes.) So you could go USA > Shanghai > Tokyo > USA, for instance, and not need to apply in advance for a visa. Or USA > Hong Kong > Shanghai > USA would also work.
There’s a post at http://onemileatatime.boardingarea.com/2016/01/28/china-6-day-transit-without-visa/ that details it.
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We made it to Shanghai Disneyland! Had 18-hour layover from 6am to midnight with China Eastern Airlines LAX to Manila flight. Got $300 in Chinese currency at departure airport in USA. Wife has Philippine passport and we couldn’t find out if she could do the transit no-visa so she visited Chinese consulate and paid $30 to get a regular visa. My daughter and I with USA passport needed no visa, and wife’s line was really fast but our no visa one took about 45 minutes.
Weather report said rain all day so we brought rain suits and changed into them inside the airport terminal, our checked bag did not need to be retrieved, and our carry on suitcase we stored in an airport locker. Then we took a taxi to SDL, and even though I had a print out of the park name in Chinese and picture of Princess castle driver had a little hard time finding where to drop us off. Driver turned around meter so we couldn’t see fare and cheated us.
Upon arrival on weekday walked to security and got through no problem, then waited for park opening. Even with the rain a lot of persons waiting to get in most with no rain gear or just an umbrella. Lady in line started screaming at her baby in a stroller. Presented passport at entrance turnstile to retrieve tickets purchased online. Persons entering ahead of us sprinted full speed off into the park.
In the park went to Pirates and rode twice within 15 minutes, they use lots of big IMAX type screens which are not as impressive as real animatronics. Next Seven Dwarves single rider wife and I both in around 15 minutes, it is outdoors and rain hits the face, in single line they pair up with another rider I had Chinese young lady close next
With daughter went on Winnie Pooh and Peter Pan, Pan was better the ride is up in the air. Got Mickey Pizza for lunch, cold and rain and wind started getting to wife also jet lag catching up to us so decided to let go of your plan to reach downtown Shanghai and instead just finish SDL and go back to airport. Many of the persons at start of day without rain gear seemed to have left the park.
Disney app showing ride wait times didn’t work for most of the day on Samsung phone with USA simcard and ATT International data plan, and many internet websites such as Facebook we could not access anytime while in China. We went counterclockwise around park and didn’t waste time and energy crossing large park to get fastpasses or for other reasons.
Went to Stars Wars Launch Bay, that was warm and out of rain. Darth Vader was mean to kids including my baby daughter, he put his fist in her face and next group of kids he just stormed out of the room and they stood there bewildered and disappointed.
Tron may be the best roller coaster in the world and best ride at any theme park. Sit on like a motorcycle and it accelerates really fast. No wait and there is a single-use two hour locker for no charge to keep your stuff in while on the ride. Jet lag really kicking in got disoriented during ride so couldn’t do it a second time.
On way out of park walked through Princess Castle noticed persons climbing stairs that wind upwards from the inside, wind blowing through castle too tired and cold to attempt climb. Took taxi back to airport and retrieved luggage from locker. On way to airport noticed lots of very tall apartment buildings looked like stereotype communist terrible place to live.
We weren’t interested in Soaring, and wished we could have seen some shows and viewed the outdoor sights, but on the plus side we did most of the best rides in a short period of time.
There is free wifi at the Shanghai airport and had a hard time getting access code finally found it taped to the front of a machine that you are supposed to scan your passport to get code electronically.