Shanghai Disneyland Winter Trip Report – Part Two – Camp Discovery & Aurora ??
Hey, fellow Explorers! Welcome to the second part of our Shanghai Disneyland Trip Report. If you haven’t already, make sure to read part one to get yourself caught up — where I explain how to get to the resort from the airport and an important tip about your visa and hotel reservations (seriously, don’t miss that).
Before we get started, I wanted to tell you about our Travel Resources page. This is where I share the resources and services I personally use and recommend. There’s excellent information about a SIM Card for Mainland China, booking cheaper hotels, and how you can save on your park tickets for Shanghai Disneyland. This is a page I’ll update on a regular basis to ensure you get the best deals and make your trip planning easier.
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Now for what you’ve all come here for. Let’s get started with our first full day at Shanghai Disneyland!
Breakfast at Sunnyside Market
After a long first day in Shanghai, we all slept in. I am a light sleeper and the smallest of noises wakes up me in an instant. When you have three other people in the room, there is always one person who snores (besides myself). One trick that I use when traveling with multiple people is using a white noise app (my choice is the fan), which helps drown out the sounds of people breathing and snoring. I find it comforting, and it helps me sleep. I don’t like earplugs as they always fall out.
Oh, before I move on, I have a funny story to share with you. When we made our reservation, we requested an extra cot — not everyone met before the trip, so we weren’t sure if everyone would feel comfortable sharing a bed. When I got to the room, there was a baby crib instead of a cot. After seeing the space in the room, there was no way a cot would fit anyway, which I thought was rather hilarious. We folded it up and just set it against the wall (they came and took it away after the first night).
Our aim was to get to the park for 09:30, so that meant a quick breakfast in the Sunnyside Market. I am a coffee person and as much as I wanted to get Starbucks in Disneytown, I didn’t want to carry coffee with me while we went from ride to ride. So I got myself a latte and this delicious Shanghainese Pork Moon Cake.
It had a light, flaky pastry outside with a cute Mickey design on it. On the inside was a sausage patty. It was one of my favourite food items from this trip (I’ll talk more about food later, don’t you worry). They had a variety of pastries and small snacks for a quick bite to eat. The Sunnyside Café has more options but costs more and takes a bit longer.
No “Soaring” For Us
As per usual, I am the one that takes the longest to eat (I am telling you this just in case we ever have lunch together, I am a slow eater).Which means we got to the park just after it opened. Which also meant we did not get to ride Soaring. By that point, the wait time was at 180 minutes and no FastPasses were being distributed.
I later learned — thank you to one of our readers — that the park has been opening 20 minutes early almost every day for the past few months. I’m not sure if this is always the case, however. The official app is essential for the park, so make sure you download that (and if you need data, I always recommend this SIM card. Their wifi in the park is spotty at best).
The first ride of the day was Pirates of the Caribbean. Our two friends Lucas and Troy had never been to Shanghai Disneyland before (this was Troy’s first time in a Disney Park, period). So we figured we may as well start off with a bang. I won’t spoil anything for those that haven’t been yet, but it’s one of the best rides Disney has done (aside from TRON and Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland). I still smile like a complete dork each time I ride it. The wait was around 30 minutes, which is a bit high, but it’s still worth it. Make sure to pay attention to the queue, which has tons of small details to check out.
FastPasses and TRON
Once everyone was done gushing over Pirates, we made our way to grab FastPasses for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as there was no way I was missing it this time. Back during the Grand Opening, the ride broke down on my last night, so I never got to ride it, and I have never been to the one in Walt Disney World.
After we got our FastPasses, we made it over to TRON in Tomorrowland. It takes a good 10 minutes to walk from Treasure Cove. This park is quite spread out! The wait was about 30 minutes, which, again, isn’t too bad. The plan was to ride it during the day, then again at night. This attraction is still one of the coolest roller coasters I have been on. Do yourself a favour and ride it early in the day, then get a FastPass for the evening.
To ride TRON you have to put all your bags in a locker (which are easily recognizable on the left of the attraction) before you get into the queue. It’s straightforward and their instructions are in English. There are two types of lockers: one that uses a screen and you input a password to lock your locker or a low-tech one where you insert a 1 RMB coin and keep the key with you.
Mickey’s Storybook Express & Tangled Tavern
Once we finished with TRON, we had about 10 minutes before Mickey’s Storybook Express started. The parade route is long, so it’s easy to get a good viewing spot. No need to wait more than 10 minutes (compared to Tokyo, where you should wait for 30, at a minimum). I would avoid the area near Mickey Avenue at the front of the park, as that seems to get the most crowded.
We got a spot between Tomorrowland and Mickey Avenue and had front row seats for the show. While this isn’t anywhere near the best parade (that crown goes to Tokyo Disneyland Electrical Parade Dreamlights), it has its moments. My favourite is the Mulan float, which added a fire effect at some point. (It wasn’t there when we saw it during the Grand Opening).
Then it was time for lunch, and one place I haven’t tried yet was the Tangled Tavern in Fantasyland. As the name suggests, it’s themed after the tavern from the movie Tangled. The menu offers Rotisserie Chicken, Fish & Chips, wok-fried Australian Beef & Vegetables, and Spicy Chicken (breaded).
Since there was four of us, we each got one of the dishes. I had the Fish & Chips and they were nothing special, rather bland. The Spicy Chicken wasn’t bad, nor was the Rotisserie Chicken and Wok. Overall, the food is inoffensive, but not the best in the flavour department. If you want a safe food option, this is a good bet.
I am not the biggest fan of Tangled, so the decor didn’t do much for me, but it was cute. The seating is outside and features lots of details from the movie.
Golden Fairytale Fanfare
To allow our stomachs to settle, we made our way over to the Enchanted Storybook Castle to watch the Golden Fairytale Fanfare stage show. In short, this show is fun and well executed. Getting a spot is easy, as there is tons of space in front of the castle.
The costumes glitter and sparkle in the sun and the transitions between scenes is seamless. There is a “grand” feeling to the entire show, which fits with the larger-than-life size of the Enchanted Storybook Castle.
My favourite portion is the Brave scene, where Merida comes out on a horse (which is really two people inside holding her up) and gallops across the stage with a number of performers that act like grass and landscape as they move and morph into different scenery. It’s so well done, I get goosebumps thinking about it. In short, don’t miss this show.
Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular
After the show we went right to another, Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular. I went into this with no knowledge of what the show entailed. The pre-show is in what looks like the foyer of a large home. A number of pirates come out and do a little show (all in Mandarin with no English), so it was all lost on me. But it had its slapstick moments and an array of characters (all of whom were in the main show).
Without giving too much away, this show exceeds all expectations and lives up to the name — the use of the word “spectacular” is on point. While the entire show is in Mandarin, there is enough happening that you can get the gist of what’s going on. I did ask Guest Services if they had any translations of the show, but they told me they didn’t.
Now, onto Camp Discovery.
To take advantage of the adrenaline from the stunt show, we decided that Camp Discovery was next on the list. We got in the queue for the Challenge Trail, which is a rope course where you wear a harness and traverse through the Roaring Mountain. There’s also the Vista Trail and Excavation Site, which is meant for just simple explorations.
I never got to do this on my last trip (time wasn’t on my side), so I was more than thrilled to finally try it. Since you are harnessed in, you can’t have anything with you (bags, cell phones, etc). There are free lockers for you to put all your things in. The line does get long for the lockers. We did see people using the Roaring Rapids lockers (even though the attraction itself was closed), so that may be something to keep in mind. Or keep it simple and have someone who isn’t going hold your things for you. They are strict on not allowing your cell phone. I had mine in my pocket (I forgot to take it out, to be honest), and the Cast Member stopped me and told me it had to go in the locker.
The wait was about 40 minutes, which isn’t too bad. You go through three stations before you get on the attraction. First, you have a Cast Member put the harness around you, loosely fitted. At the next station, a Cast Member tightens all the restraints. Then before you’re hooked into the overhead rails, a Cast Member does a final safety check.
Once you begin, there are two paths to choose from. We all chose to go left. For each portion, there is an easy, normal, and hard version of the “obstacle.” An example is walking across a bridge is the easy portion, while another bridge only had 4-5 planks and you have to use the ropes to help get yourself across. As Bryson put it, this is exercise disguised as an attraction.
I don’t want to give too much away because there are some parts that make you go, “I can’t believe this is in a Disney Park!” I never laughed so hard or had this much fun while on an attraction. It’s just a ton of fun, and outside of TRON and Pirates, this is my favourite attraction at Shanghai. At one point I said aloud, “Are you serious!?” It’s that much fun, and you can’t miss this.
Snack Time & Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Before getting onto a roller coaster, it’s always a smart idea to have something to eat ahead of time, right? Well, that’s what I did and had zero regrets. We got the pork puff from Merlin’s Magic Recipe: a flaky pastry with delicious pork inside. (I have a thing for pork, it seems). One thing to keep in mind: they don’t always have all snacks available. Either they run out and are making more or not serving anymore for the rest of the day.
After that, it was time for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. As mentioned before, I haven’t done the one in the Magic Kingdom, so this was a first. It’s a cute little coaster!
Tarzan: Call of the Jungle
As you may have noticed, we were nonstop! Next up was the Tarzan show, which, I didn’t enjoy as much as Pirates. With that said, they are two entirely different types of shows. Pirates is over-the-top, while Tarzan is more Cirque Du Soleil-esque. Tarzan is a great show, don’t get me wrong, but it felt familiar, while Pirates was something I haven’t seen before.
Even so, you should see Tarzan. The acrobatics and stage are fantastic, and there is no dialogue. (The songs are in Mandarin, however). But there is no worry of a language barrier — it’s all visual.
Rest of the Evening
For the rest of the evening, we did the Alice in Wonderland Maze (I wasn’t too impressed with this, but I am not a fan of the movie), TRON in the evening (seriously, you need to do it at night), rode Pirates and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train again, followed by the Mickey Mouse Meet N Greet!
We finished off the evening in the park with “Ignite the Dream – A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light” fireworks show. We got a spot beside the Storytellers Statue, up against the railing, and had a great unobstructed view of the castle. Most people tend to gather as close the castle as possible, which makes it crowded and a lot of people use their cameras and phones above their heads.
After being in Japan for so long (where you are told to keep cameras at head level), it’s a bit of a shock when all I can see are illuminated screens when trying to watch a show. Since I can’t control what people do, I make the best of it and find spots where no one is in front of me (like the spot I mentioned above).
About that Weather
Shanghai and Tokyo are similar in climate during this time of the year. It got to a high of 15°C (59°F) during the day and down to 8°C (46°F) in the evening. I had my heat tech from Uniqlo for my undershirt, a light winter jacket, beanie, gloves, and a scarf. The daytime isn’t too bad, but once the sun sets it’s cold. You can follow our guide to staying warm at Tokyo Disney Resort and apply the same logic to Shanghai.
Aurora in the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel
To finish off the evening, we went to our reservation for Aurora — a high-end table service restaurant at the top of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. You need to call for a reservation, but you don’t have to be a hotel guest to book.
We took a bus from the park to the hotel and made our way to the restaurant, going up the elevator. Once we got off the elevator, we had a Cast Member waiting there for us and knew who we were (wasn’t too hard since it was after 21:00 and there were only a handful of guests there).
They sat us at our table, where each of us had a Cast Member pulling out the chair for us to sit and placing our napkin on our laps — you know, the typical stuff at a fancy restaurant. The Cast Member serving our table brought out a fresh basket of bread and tuna fish lollipops (yes, you read that right). I was the only one willing to try the lollipops, and I quite enjoyed them. (I like seafood, so there’s that).
They took our drink order and I chose a nice red wine from the list (aka the cheapest thing on there). They do offer the Disney Family of Wine as well — albeit a bit more expensive. Our friend Troy ordered an Old Fashioned, and a Cast Member came out and made the drink on a little cart and made a show out of it, which was quite impressive. He shaved ice, peeled an orange, and used a blowtorch on some sugar (at least I think it was sugar; I am not familiar with fancy drinks).
The menu is heavy on the seafood side but does have a few other options. For my entrée, I decided on the Morel ricotta ravioli in menuniére cream, which was delicious though not exactly filling with the portion size. (But that’s how these types of restaurants go).
Bryson opted just for the French Onion Soup, which he absolutely loved. (Soup is always a good choice). Troy got the slow-cooked wagyu short rib and it was mouth-watering, and Lucas decided on the Risoni with baked eggplant, black truffle sauce, and Parmesan chips.
Overall, the food was fantastic and worth the price. Not only was the food delicious, but the view is excellent. From your table is a view of Shanghai Disneyland across Wishing Star Lake. There’s even a balcony where you can get your photo taken.
The inside of the restaurant is beautiful, and while it doesn’t have much in terms of Disney motif, it radiates high class with the quality of the world-renowned Disney service. I recommend it. I’ll do a full review of this in the coming weeks.
A Bit of Magic to End the Evening
After our delicious meal, it was time to head back to the Toy Story Hotel. It was after 23:00 and the buses had stopped for the evening, so we asked the front desk if they could call us a taxi. The Cast Member asked us where we were headed and we responded with “Toy Story Hotel.”
He said not to worry about a taxi and that he will get someone to drive us there in a hotel shuttle. After about 5 minutes, a van arrived and took us to the Toy Story Hotel. I thought that was the perfect way to end the evening.
Once we got back to our room, everyone passed out almost immediately. After such a fantastic day, we had to get ready for day number two!
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Is there any indication why Roaring Rapids is closed and any scuttlebutt about when it might reopen?
[…] reasons for this is maybe in response to the FastPass scalper problem. During our recent visit to Shanghai Disneyland, we did notice scalpers with FastPasses for […]
Hi, I am a reader from China and I really like your article. I can share some information about Shanghai Disneyland. “Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular” is my favorite show at SHDL. It has a pre-show before you really enter into the theater. I think the pre-show is designed to let the audiences learn some background knowledge about the coming show. This is a brief about the pre-show: The theater staff (some of them were pirates working for Jack Sparrow before) are going to present a show based on a really story about Jack Sparrow. It is said that Jack stole the treasure from an admiral and hide the treasure in this theater. And then they introduce the actor/actress in this play. The pirates in the theater also let all the audiences swear to be a pirate, and say a “Yo-Ho” to support pirates, and hiss to the admiral. The other things about the pre-show is something like two pirates bully another just for joking, and some notice for the audiences, just like no smoking, no flash lamp. Then the pirate lead audiences into the theater, and the formal show begin. But in the middle of the show, the real Jack Sparrow suddenly appear in the theater. The other pirates show their respect for their captain, but then they remember that Jack hasn’t share the treasure with them yet. So they tie Jack with a rope. At this time, the admiral and his army come to the theatre too, they want to kill Jack and get the treasure back. They use cannon destroy the theater. The rest of the show is easy to understand: A fight between them and Jack Sparrow win. At the end Jack remember where he hide the treasure, and share the treasure with the others.
My English is limited, hope it is helpful for you.
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