Our Shanghai Disneyland ride guide reviews every attraction in Disney’s newest theme park, with tips for doing everything efficiently, and our numerical scores for each attraction, show, and other experiences. (All presented in a spoiler-free fashion.) We cover which attractions are cloned from other parks, which are unique to China, language barrier issues, and which you can safely skip.
This guide contains short reviews and numerical scores for every ride and show in Shanghai Disneyland. If you’re planning a trip to Shanghai, this post is a great place to start when making your own touring plan. The guide will give you a rough idea of what you should do when making your own 1 or 2 day Shanghai Disneyland itinerary. If you’re planning a trip and want comprehensive advice for all the ins and outs, make sure to read our Shanghai Disneyland Trip Planning Guide, too!
In addition to the numerical score, each Shanghai Disneyland ride also has a brief description so you’ll know whether particular attractions will appeal to your group. This Shanghai Disneyland ride guide includes headliners, smaller attractions, and shows. We’ve divided the list into “Top” and “The Rest” sections in case your time is limited. It should go without saying, but you should focus your energy on the top attractions. And also on eating–the food is great at Shanghai Disneyland.
This guide will mention similarities and differences between attractions in the US parks and Shanghai Disneyland where pertinent to determine what can be safely skipped (should you so desire). Depending upon whether you’re a casual tourist or Disney fan, Shanghai Disneyland is either a 1-day or 2-day park. If you approach the parks with an attraction checklist and only care about the park’s highlights, one day will probably be enough. Since this guide is written in English on a site catering to US Disney theme park enthusiasts, you can probably guess that we are Disney fans, and we’re writing this for fellow fans.
Numerical scores are on a scale of 1 to 10, and only take into consideration overall quality relative to that specific type of attraction. Dark rides are judged against other dark rides, roller coasters are judged against other coasters, etc., to create a relatively level playing field. Attractions are rated based upon how much their target audience will enjoy them. In our ratings, we only consider how well done the attraction is, overall and within its category, when experienced by its target demographic.
Top Shanghai Disneyland Attractions
Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure (10/10) – This attraction is the reason to go to Shanghai Disneyland. A boat ride that puts you in the middle of a battle on–and under–the pirate-infested Caribbean waters, this is a new twist on a Disney classic. Actually, it’s more like a cross of Escape from Gringotts, Mystic Manor, and Pirates of the Caribbean. Battle for the Sunken Treasure is a mix of what Disney and Universal each do best, a culmination of what has been learned in screen-heavy attractions that have come before it. There are not enough superlatives for Pirates of the Caribbean — Battle for the Sunken Treasure. It delivers on every level and is the pinnacle of modern-day Imagineering. If someone told me this single attraction cost 20% of the park’s $5.5 billion price tag, I’d believe it. Do this in the late afternoon or early evening.
Peter Pan’s Flight (9/10) – Board a pirate ship and fly above London and other scenes from the classic animated film in this tame, family-friendly dark ride. This is like the classic attraction you’ll find in other Disney parks, but with very significant deviations made, harnessing new technology to refresh the experience. This should not be considered a clone, and everyone should try to experience it. As is the case with every single ride in the park, the language barrier is no issue–you’ll glean all you need to know from the visuals. Utilizing your 3rd FastPass of the day for Peter Pan’s Flight–or doing it at night–is a good idea.
TRON Lightcycle Power Run (9/10) – Indoor/outdoor roller coaster set on ‘The Grid’ from the TRON films. Think Rock ‘n’ Rollercoaster mixed with Space Mountain, but on TRON Lightcycles. After Battle for the Sunken Treasure, this is the most anticipated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, and one that does not disappoint–aside from its duration. There are numerous nods to Tron throughout, and it has visual effects to create the impression you’re racing around The Grid. We highly recommend doing this at night so the kinetic energy of the dark indoor portions aren’t lessened when you head outside. If you use your second FastPass on this, it should have a nighttime return time.
Camp Discovery – Challenge Trails (10/10) – A (potentially) physically-exerting rope challenge course that offers multiple difficulty levels and great views over Adventure Isle. Ditch any preconceived notions of this being a ‘kiddie play area’ (I was expecting something akin to Redwood Creek Challenge Trail, which is tame) as that is not even remotely similar. It’s one of the most exhilarating and satisfying attractions in any park, and it gives you a real sense of adventure. You could even call it “scary” I would say. Outside of Pirates of the Caribbean, this is Shanghai Disneyland’s biggest gem, and it’s sure to be an unheralded one. Wait times get long for this because capacity is incredibly low and safety precautions are high. You cannot take cell phones or cameras onto the rope course–use free lockers provided nearby. If this is too intense, there are scenic trails and a play area down below the elevated rope courses. Do this early in the morning.
Roaring Rapids (7.5/10) – A whitewater rafting ride that climaxes with a scary, alligator-monster encounter. This was intended to be one of Shanghai Disneyland’s flagship attractions, but it has been plagued by breakdowns since the park opened, and likely is still not “show-ready.” The alligator-monster is a real wow-moment, but the effort and frustration you might encounter on your way to him (just read our trip report) may be more headache than it’s worth…at least until the attraction is working reliably. Do this first thing, or hope to catch it right after it reopens from a breakdown.
Soaring Over the Horizon (9/10) – The popular hang-glider simulator ride offers a grandiose flight over some amazing locations around the globe with a special finale for Shanghai Disneyland. The giant screen combined with the swinging gliders and an epic score creates a really believable experience, making Soarin’ an incredibly popular attraction–the most popular attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, in fact. If you have access to the U.S. versions, we’d highly recommend skipping it in Shanghai. The different ending, pre-show, and queue are not enough to waste a FastPass on this or bear the sometimes 120+ minute waits. You can read our spoiler-free Soarin’ Around the World Review for more thoughts.
Buzz Lightyear’s Planet Rescue (8/10) – Interactive ride through shooting game set in the Toy Story universe. This is like a mix of the various Buzz Lightyear ‘blaster’ attractions and Toy Story Mania games, combining elements of traditional, dimensional dark rides with interactive games and screens. The targeting and shooting system of the new attraction is a considerable improvement over every other version of the ride. Planet Rescue also doesn’t have quite the same cartoonish feel nor does it have as many dimensional figures. Overall, the integration of traditional sets with projections and screen-based elements makes this Buzz ride different–and better–than every other version. It’s not a clone, so don’t skip it. Use your 4th FastPass of the day on this, or do it in the evening if FastPass runs out.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (8/10) — Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a tame, swinging rollercoaster that is aimed at kids (there is a height requirement). The strengths of this attraction are its Audio-Animatronics and theming, but it’s fairly short. We recommend skipping this if you’ve already done the superior Walt Disney World version (Shanghai’s is missing a scene and offers ugly views of backstage). If you have not experienced the Walt Disney World version, this is a high-priority FastPass attraction.
Voyage to the Crystal Grotto (6/10) – A slow moving boat ride through vignettes from Disney animated films with water features and a high-tech finale. While it probably cost 100x as much, this lacks all of the charm of Storybook Land Canal Boats at Disneyland, and has a lot of squandered potential. It feels like a tech-first approach was taken here, but the tech largely misses the mark. The experience is fine, and worth doing at night, but this could have been one of Shanghai Disneyland’s highlights if done correctly.
Jet Packs (7/10) – This offers a new spin on the familiar Tomorrowland spinner formula, with guests seated as if they are wearing and propelled by jet packs. This plus its location at the edge of Tomorrowland arguably make it worth doing. Do it at dusk when the neon is coming on TRON’s cycles are running in the distance.
Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular (8.5/10) – A stage show in Mandarin in which Captain Jack Sparrow seeks revenge after learning that an actor is portraying him on stage. This is intended to be a comedy, but a lot was lost to the language barrier for us. It’s clear many of the performers are portraying dim-wits, which was amusing. The highlight for us (as English-speakers) was the insane “high-flying” effect at the end. We don’t want to spoil it for you…but the whole show is worth it for the finale.
Tarzan: Call of the Jungle (?/10) – A musical stage show featuring acrobatics, we completely missed this show during our visit. This was not by design–we heard plenty of good things about it, we just couldn’t find the time. Here’s the description for Shanghai Disneyland’s site: “Disney’s enchanting re-telling of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ classic tale…[t]his uplifting, eye-popping musical features Phil Collins’ iconic score…Powerful staging and visual effects draw the audience into the gripping story. And breathtaking acrobatic stunts take this classic tale to thrilling new heights.”
Golden Fairytale Fanfare (?/10) – During our visit, this stage show held in front of Enchanted Storybook Castle was not yet running. Here’s the description for Shanghai Disneyland’s site: “Behold the wonder of a magical, musical stage spectacular featuring your favorite Disney Princesses. Snow White, Anna and Elsa, Jasmine, Ariel and Merida invite you to join them for this delightful daytime showcase.” We suspect the language barrier would be an issue here, save for the songs.
Ignite the Dream Fireworks (8.5/10) – Shanghai Disneyland’s nightly fireworks display is a spectacular of “magic and light,” featuring mixed media including pyro, lasers, fountains, and projections, all set to a montage of Disney music. This is somewhat similar to Disney Dreams in Disneyland Paris, but not quite that good. For the best experience, you’re going to want to have a good view of Enchanted Storybook Castle (on the castle side of the Storytellers: Walt & Mickey statue), and those spots fill up 90+ minutes in advance.
Hunny Pot Spin (5/10) – The spinning teacups at every castle park in the world…except “re-imagined” with honey pots. Such imagination. So honey. Wow!
Stitch Encounter (4/10) – Interactive attraction where Stitch interacts with kids in the audience. Compares (poorly) to Turtle Talk with Crush, except with Stitch, less entertaining, and totally incomprehensible (for English-speakers) because it’s entirely in Mandarin. (Cloned from multiple other parks.)
Frozen A Sing-Along Celebration (7/10) — This sing-along with the sisters from Frozen is aimed at families with kids. The Royal Historians of Arendelle weave the songs together with a loose retelling of Frozen, and these two have some comedic chops that keep things entertaining for adults with some ‘over kids heads’ humor. Slightly different than the U.S. versions, but still definitely skippable if you’ve seen it before. Language barrier shouldn’t be much of an issue since it’s heavy on music.
Explorer Canoes (6.5/10) – A canoe ride around Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove with guests helping paddle and navigate the waters. The concept of helping to propel the boat has been lost on some SDL guests, so this can be a slow attraction.
Marvel Universe & Star Wars Launch Bay (2.5/10) — These are Star Wars and Marvel galleries done on the cheap, and is very much a temporary “experience.” The only reason these make the list at all is so that you know they aren’t actual attractions. This is not Star Wars Land. There are no rides and nothing all that redeeming about it. This is a dull gallery and—save for a couple of meet & greets—should be skipped. (Cloned from Disneyland.)
Mickey’s Storybook Express Parade (5.5/10) – Shanghai Disneyland’s daytime parade is the weakest daytime parade at any Disney park in the world. There are some cool floats (the Mulan float, in particular) and the music is catchy, but that’s about it. Another thing it has going for it is that the parade route is insanely long, so you don’t have to stake out a spot far in advance. Usually, you can show up 10 minutes ahead of time and grab something good.
Fantasia Carousel (5/10) – Garden variety carousel located in the Gardens of Imagination.
Once Upon A Time Adventure (5/10) – Classic walk-through tour with vignettes from various Disney princess movies. There are some cool, high-tech scenes and effects, but just as many miss the mark. Recommended if you have small children, but skippable if you don’t.
Dumbo (6/10) – The iconic Disney spinner attraction, dueling. The highlight of this version is that it’s in front of Enchanted Storybook Castle and offers a neat view of the front of the park. Otherwise, it’s nothing special.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (6/10) – Fantasyland dark ride through the world of Winnie the Pooh. Due to its shortage of Fantasyland dark rides, this one is reasonably popular. This is a near-identical clone of the Walt Disney World version, and we recommend skipping it.
Baymax Super Exercise Expo (5/10) – Presented by Pepsi-Cola, which seems like an odd fit for an exercise show. We only caught this in passing, but it seemed oddly endearing. There’s not much to it and it’s by no means a high-priority show, but it’s worth catching a couple of minutes of the show because Baymax has this certain charming quality…
This leaves out some additional photo ops, small play areas, entertainment, and character meet & greets, but it’s all of the significant, year-round attractions. You should have the time to do virtually everything on this list in a single day. Make sure to take time to enjoy the park’s dining, shopping, and enjoying the ambiance of Shanghai Disneyland!
Which of these attractions interest you the most? If you’ve been to Shanghai Disneyland, what are your favorite attractions? With which of our ratings do you agree and disagree? Anything else to add? Hearing from you is half the fun, so please share your questions and thoughts in the comments!