Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report – Part 5

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In our 3 page finale, we pick up after our previous Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report installment on our final morning at the park and take you through to our excursion to Hong Kong Disneyland. After 2 days in Shanghai Disneyland, you’d think we would’ve seen it all–or most everything–by this point, but that was not the case. So, rather than sleeping in, we arrived to the turnstiles prior to park opening, and the scene was even more of a free-for-all than the previous day.

The lines for each turnstile were not organized, and the masses of people coupled with little personal space (Shanghai is a densely-populated city) made for an unpleasant way to start the day. This was exacerbated by our constant impulse to refresh the official Shanghai Disneyland app, which showed that Roaring Rapids was actually open! At first, we were elated by this. We were maybe 10 minutes from the front of the line, and the wait was only showing as 30 minutes.

Fifteen minutes later, we were still almost to the front of the line, and the Roaring Rapids wait had spiked to 60 minutes. The ticket voucher redemption process made lines getting into the park move really slowly–hopefully this is something that is addressed once the park has been operating longer. Once we were finally inside the park and made our way over the Adventure Isle, the posted wait was in the triple digits. We feared it would only get longer, but getting into line meant forgoing short waits at other attractions.

So, we skipped Roaring Rapids and instead headed to Camp Discovery and its rope courses. I had noted that the posted wait time for this was really high the previous day, and it’s something we definitely wanted to do. We started by waiting in line for a locker (they are in short supply) and then got in line for the attraction. The posted wait was around 15 minutes, and we easily waited double that.

In fact, one thing we noticed throughout the second two days of our visit was that wait times were rarely–if ever–inflated. To the contrary, we often found ourselves waiting longer than what was posted. Coming from parks where the actual wait is routinely half the posted wait, this came as a bit of a surprise to us.

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In any case, it was easy to see why the posted wait for Camp Discovery was so long, as there was quite the process for receiving a harness, having Cast Members strap you in, having another Cast Member check your harness, and then starting out on the course.

This “process” is totally understandable and necessary, as the rope course is unlike anything you will encounter in any other Disney park. There is real danger of falling on the course and without the course, you would die if you fell. This is not some shock-value inducing hyperbole. Obviously, you could theoretically die anywhere if the stars aligned. The only thing that needs to align here is falling (I almost fell–and I’m no stranger to intense hikes) and having your harness fail.

There was already one section of the rope course that was closed, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see others close in the future, and a bunch of safety nets added. I had preconceived notions of this being a ‘kiddie play areas’ and was expecting something akin to Redwood Creek Challenge Trail (no slouch in its own right, but tame). It was not even remotely similar. I don’t know how this attraction made it off the drawing board, but I am so glad that it did. 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.

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Unfortunately, you’re not allowed to take cameras, cell phones, or anything in your pocket, so you’ll just have to take my word for it. If you do visit Shanghai Disneyland, this is a must-do. (There were a few no-camera scenarios on our last day–the photos interspersed throughout this installment of the report aren’t necessarily illustrative to the text.)

After finishing up, we wandered past Roaring Rapids to check the wait time–now 130 minutes. We decided to pass, and instead do the castle walk-through, which was already posted a 30 minute wait. The previous day it had eclipsed 60 minutes, and since the line was almost entirely in the sun, we decided to go when the line would be shorter.

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This walk-through was fine. Some scenes were better than others–some were complete whiffs and others were mildly cool. It seemed very much like a case of Imagineering wanting to flex its tech muscles in situations that really didn’t call for it. I shudder to think about how much this probably cost to build, but whatever that cost, it probably was not worth it. Personally, I prefer the charm of the Sleeping Beauty Castle walk-through.

After this, it was decision time. I had warned Sarah and Mark that I was going to do Roaring Rapids one way or another because I had been so hyped about seeing Q’araq (after years of hearing about it) that I couldn’t pass that up. Especially without knowing when we’d be back, and with knowing what happened with the Yeti in Expedition Everest.

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The wait for Roaring Rapids was 120 minutes and we had about 160 minutes until our lunch reservation at Royal Banquet Hall. Normally, I don’t wait in any line that’s over 30 minutes, but I had to make an exception. Sarah isn’t a huge fan of raft rides in the first place, so she opted to go off on her own. Mark and I headed over to Roaring Rapids, where we encountered Chris from TDR Explorer and his friend, Bryson. We got in line with them, and started the long wait.

With the queue constantly moving, the time passed relatively quickly. After waiting about 130 minutes, the line stopped moving. By my estimation, we were 10 minutes (or less) from boarding the rafts at this point. An announcement was made in Mandarin to the collective groan of the line, at which point we surmised that the attraction had broken down. We knew this was a possibility when we had gotten into line, as it had occurred the first two days of operation, as well.

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Maybe another 10 minutes later, another announcement was made. At this point, the line started emptying, with a good half (or more) of guests getting out of line. The rest were mostly seated at this point, presumably braced for the long haul. We encountered a young woman who spoke English, and she indicated to us that they announced the attraction had broken down, and it was unknown when it would be repaired.

Another 10 minutes later (with our lunch reservation around 10 minutes away), we asked a Cast Member about the ride status, and whether they were issuing re-admission passes for people who got out of  line. She had no updates on status, and indicated that they were not issuing re-admission passes. At this point, she was virtually besieged by irate guests who were yelling at her, so we just thanked her and left her alone.

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To add another wrinkle to our dilemma, between the 3 of us, we only had one MiFi unit, and Sarah had that. We had planned to meet her at Royal Banquet Hall at a set time–which had passed. Fortunately, Bryson allowed me to use his phone to text her letting her know what the situation was.

We knew we had to get out of line for lunch, but with virtually every Cast Member in the vicinity being yelled at, we knew we weren’t going to get anywhere trying to figure out the re-ad situation here. As we left the queue and headed out of Adventure Isle, we saw a cluster of managers who appeared to be from the U.S. parks.

We approached one and described the situation, and he advised going to Guest Services after lunch, as they would be able to assist. He also walked us to Royal Banquet Hall (the parade was coming through) and made sure we wouldn’t have any issues. By this point, we were going to be 5-10 minutes late. (Later, while walking up the stairs of Royal Banquet Hall, we saw a U.S. manager we knew, and he advised that he could assist.)

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After a few minutes of chaos trying to meet up with Sarah, we went into the waiting area for Royal Banquet Hall. I won’t sugar coat this: I was in far from a good mood at this point. The combination of the Roaring Rapids breakdown, rushing over to the castle, and the humidity was really getting to me. I was probably on the cusp of an adult temper tantrum, and it took the first half of our meal just for me to cool down. (So, sorry Sarah and Mark!)

My feelings on the meal are a bit mixed. Part of my perception is undoubtedly colored by my mood at the time. The food was good (maybe a rung below Cinderella’s Royal Table, which I like) and the characters were great. I really appreciated that the royalty here was Mickey and friends, rather than princess face characters. The environment fell a bit flat for me. The restaurant was huge and the cavernous spaces didn’t feel all that regal.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I expected something more medieval in style, with ornate features and lavish design. Instead, it was light and airy, with some detail work but mostly a cartoonish vibe. There was nothing necessarily wrong with it, but it didn’t remind me much of eating inside a castle. (On the plus side, the overall experience was far better than our recent breakfast at Akershus.)

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Mark wanted to see the Frozen Sing-Along, so he split from lunch just before dessert arrived. After Sarah and I finished, we saw our homie NORI on the way out. (That’s NORI’s Mickey above.) We seem to run into him (randomly) everywhere: Japan, China, and Disneyland. I think this was like the 4th time we’ve seen him this year alone.

After that, we walked up to Guest Services. The Cast Members there spoke excellent English, and after a brief discussion, one Cast Member gave us a “No Strings Attached” certificate for Roaring Rapids. As an added bonus, they gave it to us for 3 people instead of 2.

Continue reading on Page 2 to discover whether we actually made it onto Roaring Rapids this time…and whether it was worth the hassle!


39 Responses to “Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report – Part 5”
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