Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Report – Part 3
Our Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening visit picks up here on day 2, after our experience closing out the park opening day. This is the first installment that will have (a few) on-ride photos, so if you want to avoid spoilers, exit now. Before we start running around on the second day, we wanted to briefly cover the vlog side of the trip report, which is finally here.
Although neither of us have anything remotely resembling a strong camera presence (and I’m far from extroverted–the safety of being behind a keyboard and screen just conceals that), but we wanted to give this a try. For one, many readers have asked about it. Additionally, we felt it would be a fresh format for trip reports. We haven’t done nearly as many of those as we used to, and that’s partly because of the effort required. It’s also partly because after a while, there’s a redundancy and sense of stagnation to writing them.
You might wonder why we chose the grand opening of a new park as a time to start vlogging. I was already preoccupied with photos and we had a lot of ground to cover in the park. We’ve done a few vlogs with Guy Selga, and during our last visit to Tokyo Disney Resort with them, we discovered we are a lot more comfortable on camera recording in a place where many other guests probably can’t understand what we’re saying.
Most of you are reasonable people and, as such, probably have not recorded yourselves on camera while walking around a theme park. There are any number of compelling reasons not to do so. One of which is that you feel incredibly self-conscious walking around, talking to a camera. Most other guests are totally oblivious to what you’re doing and don’t care either way, but there’s still an weariness you have.
With that in mind, it made sense to get comfortable with video in Shanghai before trying it in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. In theory, at least. Again, all this is a long-winded way of saying: lower your expectations for the vlogs. If that’s not a good “subscribe now to our vlog!” pitch, I don’t know what is. Anyway, here’s the train-wreck covering day 1:
Okay, enough trying to explain away why we suck. We’ll get better over time? Maybe. Let’s move on to the day itself.
What I neglected to mention at the close of day 1 was that Mark and I actually had to walk back to Shanghai Disneyland Hotel after we were done shooting, and I mean walk along the road. The bridge that cut across the lake was locked off, and the buses had stopped running for the night. Consequently, we didn’t get back until after midnight.
Despite this, we were all up bright and early the next morning, and at Shanghai Disneyland in time for rope drop. Unfortunately, so too were a ton of other people, as it was clear attendance wasn’t limited for day 2 to the same degree as opening day.
Security was also increased, with bag scanners and metal detectors set-up. If ever the term “security theater” was apt, that was here. Virtually everyone set-off the metal detector, and we were all just waived through despite this. No one was watching the bag scanner, and if you didn’t act quickly, your bag would fall onto the ground after being scanned. I’m not really sure what the point of this all was, but hey, at least it was quick!
We were far less fortunate at the turnstiles, which took forever. It took us nearly 30 minutes to get inside the park, at which time we headed directly to Adventure Isle. The Shanghai Disney Resort app indicated that Roaring Rapids was down, but we were hopeful that it was mistaken, in which case we’d grab a Soaring Over the Horizon FastPass and jump into standby for Roaring Rapids.
The Soaring FastPass part of that worked, with our return time being after fireworks. Soaring is the most popular attraction at Shanghai Disneyland, more popular than both TRON Lightcycle Power Run and Roaring Rapids when you account for the downtimes the latter two have been experiencing (which inflate their wait times).
First up after that was Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure. This attraction had an irresistible siren song that we could not resist, even if its capacity made it a better option later in the day.
Think of it like Spaceship Earth, except instead of a giant geodesic sphere prominently placed at the front of the park to lure guests, this attraction had a fairly non-descript entrance and placement, and it was instead the substance luring people inside.
This Jack Sparrow AA early in the attraction is the first “wow” moment. I’m not quite sure how the effect of him transforming from a skeleton to Jack is accomplished, but my guess is either projection mapping (of the skeleton) or that the AA rotates (and the skeleton is on the reverse side). Given the rest of the attraction’s tech, the former seems more likely. Either way, incredibly impressive and effective.
After Pirates we were fairly hungry, so we began contemplating where to eat. Wandering Moon Teahouse had been touted as the park’s flagship restaurant, so we decided to eat there. After finding that it wasn’t open yet, we had a SQUIRREL! moment when we realized that–holy cow–it was a beautiful day! There were clouds and blue sky!
Instead of doing whatever it was that we talked about doing in lieu of Wandering Moon Teahouse (I think heading back to Treasure Cove, since we knew restaurants there were open?) and just started running around taking photos. There was only a small patch of blue behind Enchanted Storybook Castle with the rest of the sky still being overcast, but that was good enough for me.
After our first two mornings in Shanghai, I was beginning to worry that this trip was going to be a photographic bust. The sky had likewise been overcast on this particular morning, and when I saw the blue sky, I was worried that it would be a small window (sort of like the hour of blue skies we had over the course of our first visit to Disneyland Paris), so I ran around making the most of it.
This was fairly short-lived not because the window of opportunity closed, but because the weather was unbearable. It was as if we had made a Faustian bargain for those wonderful skies, and the sacrifice was more temperate weather. This day demonstrated just how hot and humid summer in China can be, and why many travel guides caution against visiting during these months. There are probably few deals with the devil I’d turn down if they meant better photo conditions, so I can’t complain too much.
With Wandering Moon Teahouse still not open, lunch was at Barbossa’s Bounty. I mentioned in our Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Impressions post that this was my favorite meal of the trip. I’ll do a full review of this restaurant later, because I consider it to be one of the highlights of the park. (Mark had the ribs, pictured above.)
I had grilled squid that cost about $12, with a view overlooking Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure. The squid was a bit tough (to be expected), but the flavor was excellent and I’d actually call this a better meal than what I had last time I was at Blue Bayou in Disneyland…for about $40 less.
After criss-crossing the park for TRON Lightcycle Power Run FastPasses (this time with a return time at night!), we surveyed our options and realized that wait times were pretty steep for most attractions, many of which also had outdoor queues. For lack of better ideas, we decided it was time for ice cream. This would be the first of two ice cream stops that afternoon, as the humid weather was slowing our pace down to a lethargic crawl.
The place looks lovely! Thanks for the report.
Great job on the Vlog guys. I think you are far too hard on yourselves with criticisms and hope that you continue with them.
I also greatly enjoyed the Trip Report and appreciate the time and effort (and humor) that go into these things; it shows a true labor of love.
We were in NYC last week and I saw a guy vlogging (or so it appeared) with a selfie stick in a store on Times Square. It was a bizzare sight to me. Then again, I’m old fashioned and prefer reading to hearing people talk – so there aren’t even any podcasts that I subscribe to!
One thing I thought of with the vlogs is that it feels a little bit like an interview, which just doesn’t seem right for you two. I’m sure it’s just nerves, which will probably disappear with practice.
Your vlog is so cute! 🙂 Love hearing your reactions and your conversation! I have to say, I originally liked the idea of the vlog because I like YOU guys, but seeing the crowds, seeing you guys walk in, hearing the sounds really felt like being there. Wow. It really blew me away. I can’t wait to see what you guys do — thanks for putting all the effort into this new way of blogging!
Also LOVE seeing Walter. 🙂 He is so good in front of the camera! 🙂 He reminds me so much of my dachshund when he was curled up on Sarah’s lap. 🙂
TOM!!!! I totally love your work. I was a Producer/Reporter for a National Cable Network for about 20 years. I now am a Professor of Communication at Anderson University in South Carolina. Just taught a year in Kansas and now heading out to SC in a couple weeks. Please do not be discouraged about your attempt at vlogging. Your site drew me in a couple years ago due to the amazing quality of your photos. You are talented, sir. I know that talent will help you develop amazing vlogs. If you want any pointers, contact me via the email address I submitted. Excellent work, TOM. YOU ROCK!
Cut yourself some slack guys. I thought the vlog was pretty good; gave me a nice ‘you are there’ feeling. And I was impressed at how good you looked even with the rain, heat, humidity and crowds. I’d have looked like something from a horror movie by the time I was through the turnstiles. (of course Sarah could fall face 1st into a swamp and come up looking lovely)
Consider this Tom; how good were you at still photography when you 1st started? And look at you now. You’ll be styling it with the video in a short time, I’m sure.
Great report! I have no idea when we’ll visit (though I’m finally going to Disneyland Paris next month and can check that one off the bucket list), so I love experiencing the park through your eyes 😀
Wonderful report a usual, and wonderful to finally hear your voices.You are such a sweet couple and yours is my favorite blog, so please keep going to places that I can only now dream of.
Mike from the UK
I just love how someone just looked dead at the camera at the end when you weren’t paying attention XD
I just want to say thank you so much for vlogging when you were clearly enjoying the experience of being there for the grand opening. Even though I wasn’t physically there, I felt like I was experiencing walking through the entrance when the park first opened. You guys honestly didn’t have to, but you did it anyway, so thanks!
I think you guys are more comfortable in front of the camera than you were for your first video. I imagine it’s not easy talking in front of a camera when you’re used to typing posts for your blog, so great job. I really enjoyed it.
The photos in this segment have me sold on the new castle. I’m bummed that they only have one and two day tix and the two day tix have to be used on consecutive days. Am I reading that right?
We’re touring SE Asia (Vietnam this week) and your TR is swinging me WAY in the direction of making the trip to Shanghai.
That is correct, but the savings on 2-day tickets are so minimal (5%) that it doesn’t make much of a difference, anyway. We ended up buying a 2-day ticket and 1-day ticket for our visit.
Thanks for that feedback. My sense is that this is a 2 day park at the bare minimum, no?
That pre-parade dream car looks suspiciously like some of my creations from Test Track… Chevy and Epcot are really upping the game if they’re making the sim cars into real life cars 🙂
The vlog & sit down talk thru was a dream come true! I’ve always wanted to hear your voices and see your personalities in a vlog or video. You guys are both oh so cute, Sarah’s voice is as bit as sweet as her lovely face. The vlog was cool, also seeing you guys sit down and voice out your trip & opinion was super nice as well. Do more vlogs! And now….back to reading the whole trip report cause all I did so far was went straight to the vid. Thank you guys for the vlog and also for sharing your experiences, advice & reviews for all this time. It is much appreciated.
This was wonderful! Im not into typical celebrity hype of America but you two are like my celebrities that I follow! I loved your vlog! Please do more!! I have read almost your entire blog since I discovered it back in January. You guys are awesome!
Loving the trip report which is great as they always are.
Thank you for the vlogs, I love Disney vlogs and have always wanted to see you do it as well. Sarah actually has a very warm and natural camera presence which I’m sure will get even better with practice.
Loved the vlog!! I’m excited to see more from you both!
Tom and Sarah – I watched your first vlog and thought it was a great first vlog.
1) I like how you interspersed your sofa chat with video of the topic that you were chatting about. I would suggest breaking up your chats a bit more with more video breaks.
2) You should break your video into shorter parts. I think that a 20 minute video for your topic matter is too long as many people, including myself, surf around the internet (or your blog etc) as a break from whatever they are doing. I suggest 10 minutes as being reasonable shorter time commitment. More specifically, simply break the 20 minute video into two 10 minute pieces. There are studies and people who advise that people won’t watch videos that are more than a couple of minutes long but I think people who watch yours are willing to watch longer ones, hence my 10 minute suggestion. It also gives you more opportunity to have Google ads.
3) Within the first 20 or 30 seconds, I thought that Sarah was a perfect natural for some types of infomercials. She had the perfect body language!!! Looking at the camera, then looking at you while you were talking, then looking at the camera, nodding periodically in agreement. That’s exactly what they do in infomercials (e.g. two people hawking CDs of songs from years ago, and all types of other products). I wasn’t looking for it but it just looked so right. Now, if only I was in the infomercial business …
4) If you decide to get serious about video, I know you will get some lighting and other equipment (microphones, multiple video cameras, software etc) either locally or at B&H or Adorama. A lot of it is not very expensive.
I look forward to seeing the rest of your Shanghai series and videos. The park looks quite different than WDW.
1) That was not the original intent, but it ended up working okay…in some cases, there could’ve been better transitions. We’ll tweak this as appropriate going forward.
2) Our goal here was under 15 minutes with an ideal time of 10. We failed miserably, but that *is* the plan going forward.
3) This is actually all just an elaborate ruse to eventually be selling Time-Life Greatest Hits CDs to you all. (Don’t tell anyone!)
4) I love gadgets, so I’ve already been looking. Unfortunately, I’ve about spent my photography budget for the year on cameras and lenses, so that won’t happen anytime soon.
Thanks for the feedback! 🙂
Loving this trip report, I hope Disney opens a new castle park during my lifetime so I have a chance to attend the grand opening.
That shot of the castle with the flowers in the foreground and blue skies in the background is gorgeous.
Couple comments on the vlog – I thought it was good. One thing that I would say is that the volume differences between the in-park vlog and at-home vlog could be minimized, if that makes sense.
Don’t worry about if you guys aren’t pros yet, I think we all understand. I don’t doubt that you guys will improve immensely and I can’t wait to watch the vlogs grow. Don’t get discouraged! I enjoyed it very much regardless of whether it was “good” or not, as I was just excited to see video of the park. Those night shots in Tomorrowland were especially amazing.
“Improve immensely”…well, you sure seem to have high expectations for us! What if that doesn’t happen. What if we actually get WORSE?!
I certainly hope we improve, and I am almost embarrassed to release something as rough as this vlog. I like to be good at the things I do, and with video being a “relative” of photography, you’d think I could do a decent job.
(On the other hand, maybe this underscores that my photography skills are actually “skills,” and not because I “have a nice camera.” That “nice camera” didn’t take nice video for some reason! 😉 )
“the volume differences between the in-park vlog and at-home vlog could be minimized”
Sorry, I didn’t even think of this when editing. I’m sure there’s a way to make this happen going forward–it seems like a basic editing feature. I’ll look into that.
Love the trip reports and vlogs are great ….
Woohoo! Been hanging out for the next instalment. We had pretty similar days on Day 2 – I must have seen you around somewhere! I also rode Pirates early on, had lunch at Barbossa’s and checked out Camp Discovery in the early afternoon. Absolutely LOVED all 3, and couldn’t believe how quiet Camp Discovery was. Those cave areas were so nice and cool in the afternoon heat too. I had a waffle from Il Paperino the next day and agree wholeheartedly with your comments on that. I have to say, your comments on the park entry process make me feel slightly better about my own experience on this day. However, I had a nightmare of a time getting in on Day 3.
It does sound like we probably crossed paths at some point during the trip. Delayed “hello” regardless!
Getting in on Day 3 was also a hassle for us, if that makes you feel any better…