Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report – Part 5

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Wanting to savor our final hours at Shanghai Disneyland, we spent some time meandering about the outside of the park, taking photos of the Steamboat Mickey Fountain before heading back. As we walked through Disneytown, we realized we hadn’t spent any time there, save for walking through part of it to enter and leave the park every day.

Actually, the number of things we hadn’t done was fairly mind-boggling considering that we had spent 3 days in a park that many commentators have called a half-day park. I would’ve loved another day there, and while the average guest is going to find anything over 2 days to be way more than necessary, I could see a Disney geek spending more time at Shanghai Disneyland.

In fairness, we revisited Pirates (too) many times, spent a lot of time taking photos, and humidity slowed our pace to a crawl at points. Taking all of that into account, I still don’t see how we could have done or seen it all in 3 days. There was a lot to do in our hotel, shows we missed, and even a cursory survey of Disneytown would’ve taken a few hours.

This isn’t to say I think fans should spend 3-4 days at Shanghai Disneyland, but I do think people underestimate how long it takes to ‘do’ a park if you aren’t racing around commando-style to check attractions off of a list.

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Somehow, we managed to catch the last bus, and we got back to Shanghai Disneyland Hotel at midnight Mark and I spent a decent amount of time taking photos of the lobby, which reminds me a lot of the atriums on Disney Cruise Line ships. It’s really pretty, and nice to see Disney is deviating (at least a bit) from the Victorian style with their flagship hotels. At this point, I think Disney has done Victorian to death, and it’s time to move on to a new obsession.

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Our flight the next morning was 9:40 a.m., so we didn’t have a ton of time to enjoy the room before it was time to leave. We headed down to the lobby to check out, and went to Bell Services outside to call for a taxi, leaving at around 7:45 a.m. Fortunately, the airport was less than 20 minutes away, so we weren’t pressed for time once we arrived there.

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There’s almost no chance I’ll do a standalone Hong Kong Disneyland report, so I’ll devote a couple of paragraphs here (quickly) to that. The big thing we noticed was how it was even more humid in Hong Kong than Shanghai. I don’t know how this is even possible, but Hong Kong was downright miserable. This was unfortunate, because we had ostensibly beautiful weather during our visit! Bright blue skies and puffy clouds made it look nice, at least.

“First thing” (if you count 10:30 a.m. as first thing) in the morning the park was a ghost town, and from my photos, it looks like no one was there. The park got noticeably busier by around 1 p.m. and Main Street was packed for the fireworks. Otherwise, it never felt really busy. This could be because visiting the park in the summer is miserable, but I wonder whether it’s a drop in attendance of mainland Chinese already being borne out.

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It had been a couple of years since our last visit to HKDL, and there were a few new things. The park is currently celebrating its 10th Anniversary, and there are some neat displays for that. The biggest new offering is Mickey and the Wondrous Book, a popular (and cute) stage show that replaced Golden Mickeys. There’s also the Fairy Tale Forest walk-through, which is charming and well-done (it’s what the castle walk-through at Shanghai Disneyland should’ve been, minus the castle).

They also have a Star Wars takeover of Tomorrowland that includes Hyperspace Mountain (a superior and more permanent-feeling version than Disneyland’s) and will soon include Jedi Training Academy: Trials of the Temple in the Autopia load area (???). That’s one way to replace Autopia, I guess. Iron Man Experience is also coming soon, and Explorer’s Lodge is supposed to open next year. So, there are no shortage of developments at Hong Kong Disneyland, but that doesn’t mean all is well there.

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There were a lot of very noticeable operational cuts in the park–from a reduction in hours to half of the restaurants being closed to Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch, and Mystic Point all closing 2 hours before the rest of the park–and I can’t help but wonder whether this is a sign of what’s to come. (Neither of the park’s parades are running for large chunks of the fall, although it’s unclear whether that’s because a Halloween parade is coming…)

With another (huge) hotel on the way, it seems unlikely that Disney and its partners are content with Hong Kong Disneyland being a sleepy little regional park. Mainland China and Hong Kong have huge populations, and each can independently sustain a park (or a few), but HKDL has struggled finding its footing for years, and it does seem that the loss of the mainland Chinese demographic could be a huge blow.

I really hope this isn’t the case, as HKDL has really grown on us, and we think it has a lot of potential as a tourist draw if its second gate is ever greenlit. Hopefully, its cuts are just a temporary measure, because Hong Kong is a great city to visit (just not in the summer!) and this resort has a lot of potential.

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I thought about offering extensive parting thoughts here, including comparisons to Tokyo Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland, and how you should allocate your time if you’re doing all 3, but those seem better suited to standalone blog posts where those planning trips are more apt to find them. I don’t want (what I consider) important information getting buried on page 3 of a 5 part trip report: 17,000 words into a series that most people will probably close out after reading the first 800 words.

Suffice to say, we are both really happy we went to Shanghai Disneyland, and we left wanting more time there. Definitely not more in the summer, but more. (The only thing that will ever get me back to China in the summer is if they clone the original Journey into Imagination and only open it from June until August.)

I went in apprehensive, worried that this would be our first one and done Disney resort in a city that didn’t hold much allure for us. I left loving the city of Shanghai, being pleasantly surprised by the park, and wanting to see more of China. If anything, we now have a dilemma as we can’t get enough of Japan, but want explore more of China and also return to Hong Kong. (Talk about #FirstWorldProblems.)

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We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this trip report as much as I’ve enjoyed sharing it, and we really do appreciate the time you take to read it–we know it’s just as much a commitment on your end to read as it is on my end to write it. We want to offer a sincere thank you to everyone who has read all–or part–of this report. Your view and comments mean more than you realize, and are what helps keep us motivated to share our experiences!

So for now, as they say, “See Ya Real Soon!” 🙂

YOUR THOUGHTS…

What do you think of Shanghai Disneyland? Is it a park that’s on your bucket list? Would you have waited 120+ minutes for Roaring Rapids? Any questions that we haven’t answered yet? We love hearing from readers, so please share any other thoughts or questions you have, in the comments!


39 Responses to “Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report – Part 5”
  1. Corene January 6, 2019
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