10 Mistakes to Avoid at Shanghai Disneyland


My first visit to Shanghai Disneyland was on their Grand Opening Day on June 16, 2016. During my multiple visits since then, I’ve made a few mistakes. Here’s a simple list of mistakes to avoid during your visit. It’ll make your day easier and less overwhelming.

Once you’re done, continue your trip planning with our Shanghai Disneyland Travel Guide. It has my best tips and advice to help you plan a stressfree trip.

Not researching about travel visas

In order to visit Mainland China (this includes Shanghai), you’ll either need to apply for a Chinese visa before your trip or get a transit visa. It’s important you understand how the visas work and how to get one. Otherwise, you may arrive in China and be denied entry into the country or not allowed on the plane from the airport you’re traveling from.

To apply for a Chinese visa, you’ll have to consult with the nearest Chinese Embassy in your area. Another option is the transit visa. This is a visa given to you when you arrive in Mainland China. You have to show that you are transiting through the country. This means you’re traveling from:

  • Point A (where you left from) to
  • Point B (Mainland China) to
  • Point C (another destination that is not Point A)

As long as you prove that travel itinerary (hotel reservations and flights with your full legal name on them is enough) you’re given either a 72-hour or 144-hour (6 days) transit visa. This is good enough for most Explorers going to Shanghai Disneyland.

This varies depending on what country you’re from. It’s up to you to check what the requirements are for a travel visa or transit visa. I recommend reading our article about these visas and the Travel China Guide website.

Not knowing when Chinese public holidays are

Just like Hong Kong Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Resort, Shanghai Disneyland is busy on public holidays throughout the year. Knowing when the major holidays fall helps you plan.

The biggest holidays are Chinese New Year (changes each year and is usually in January or February) and National Day (first week of October) and are both about a week. The crowds in the Park during these times reach capacity or close to it on most days. I don’t recommend visiting during these two holidays.

As a general rule of thumb, you’re best to visit Tuesday through Friday.

Our Shanghai Travel Guide goes more in-depth on when to visit. Read this full list for a list of public holidays in China.

Not using the official app

Using the official Shanghai Disneyland app is essential for your time at the Park. It’s the best way to check attraction wait times, restaurant menus, show times, etc. The free wi-fi in the Park works fine with the app. Not using this app makes your time in the Park not as efficient (I don’t like wasting time).

Not having a FastPass strategy

Pirates of the Caribbean Shanghai Disneyland

Pirates of the Caribbean at Shanghai Disneyland

Don’t waste time by not having a FastPass strategy. Once you’re in the Park, scan your Park ticket(s) into the official app and begin getting FastPasses (it’s all done through the app). There are no advance FastPass reservations like Walt Disney World; you only do it the day you’re in the Park.

Here’s a simple FastPass strategy that assumes you’re at the Park at open:

  • Get a FastPass for either Soarin’ or Roaring Rapids (these are among the longest waits in the Park)
  • Ride standby on TRON, followed by Peter Pan
  • Head to the back of the Park and ride Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Your next FastPass should be either Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, TRON, or Peter Pan

Another option is the paid FastPass called the Disney Premier Pass. You do this right through the app. Read our FastPass strategy guide for more details.

Being stuck behind the Great Firewall of China

Best Shanghai SIM Card

This is the best SIM Card to use while in Shanghai to use all your apps and websites

Internet (including data on your phone) in Mainland China is filtered, which means websites and apps such as Facebook, Instagram, Google, YouTube, etc, are blocked and you’re unable to use them. This is also called the “Great Firewall of China.”

While the official Shanghai Disneyland app works on the free wi-fi in the Park, most of your other apps won’t. If you think it’s essential to have access to your apps and websites, then you have a few options.

  • Using this SIM Card for unlocked phones
    • This bypasses the firewall and I use it each time I am in China
  • Using a VPN on your mobile device or laptop

A VPN creates a tunnel between your device and the app or website you’re accessing. This means your connection can’t be monitored; therefore, you’re able to get access to blocked sites in Mainland China. I use a VPN on my laptop each time I am staying in China so I am able to work.

If you want to learn about what VPNs are, then I recommend checking out this article.

Not buying your Park tickets in advance

Shanghai Disneyland Discount Tickets

I always advocate for buying your Park tickets in advance. This is just one less thing to worry about in the morning and you don’t waste valuable time waiting to buy tickets at the booths.

If you’re staying at the Shanghai Disneyland or Toy Story Hotel, simply buy your tickets with your room package (as a bonus, you get an extra FastPass for every night of your stay).

Another option is buying discount tickets through Klook. They also offer a discounted meal tickets to save even more money.

Use our offer code “KLKTDREX” to save $4 USD off your first order with Klook.

Arriving at the Park late

It’s essential for you to get to the Park early to knock out all the big attractions. The main entryway does take time to go through, even on normal days. This is because of the security check everyone must go through. I recommend getting there at least 30 minutes to an hour before Park open.

Not Staying at a Disney Hotel

Toy Story Hotel Shanghai Disneyland

Not only do you get the benefit of being on Disney property (free shuttles to the Park) but the biggest perk is the early entry into the Park 30 minutes before Park open. The main entrance is unpleasant and I would avoid it if possible. With early entry, you go through the Disneytown entrance and end up close to Tomorrowland (left side of the Park). This makes the start of your day so much easier.

There are two Disney Hotels at Shanghai Disney Resort:

Not checking restaurant menus

Both the official Shanghai Disneyland website and app list current menu items for their restaurants. This is a perfect way to save yourself time and having the back-and-forth conversation of “What do you want to eat?” You’ll also see the price ranges for all the restaurants.

Only visiting for one day

You’re able to do most things in the Park in one single day, but I highly recommend a minimum of 2  days. This way you’re not rushing and able to enjoy everything this wonderful park has to offer.

As a bonus tip, pack the best walking shoes you own. This Park is massive and you’ll do a ton of walking. Don’t expect to get anywhere in the Park quickly.

If this is all the planning you do, then you’re already well ahead of everyone else. Of course, I recommend you to read our Shanghai Disneyland Trip Planning Guide to perfect your itinerary.

Do you have any more mistakes to add the list? Let me know in the comments! I’ve created a few images to share on social media. If you enjoyed this article, please make sure to share it.

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