Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is a luxury hotel at Disney’s new Deluxe Resort in China. This review features room and resort photos, thoughts on our stay at this hotel, and the pros & cons of booking Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. We’ll also take a look at the amenities and include a comparison to Toy Story Hotel (the other hotel at Shanghai Disney Resort).
Let’s start with the real wow element of Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, which is that elegant 3-story lobby. I think grandiose is the best word to describe the lobby, with beautiful stained glass, elegant decor, floor to ceiling windows looking towards Shanghai Disneyland, and a musical motif that’s accentuated by a large statue of Mickey Mouse conducting the other characters in a mini-orchestra.
This lobby has shades of the grand atriums of Disney Cruise Line’s fleet, and sets the tone for the Art Nouveau style that the rest of the hotel will embrace. It’s also 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.
Located about 15 minutes from the park by foot (or less by either boat or bus) Shanghai Disneyland is located directly across Wishing Star Lake, meaning there are dead-on views of Enchanted Storybook Castle and the fireworks from the hotel’s restaurants and guest rooms.
This also means that the flagship resort is not the closest to the park (that honor goes to Toy Story Hotel), but with regular and efficient boat and bus transportation, you probably won’t be walking anyway. We only did once–after leaving the park so late that the bus and boat had already stopped running.
In terms of dining, Shanghai Disneyland has a variety of options ranging in price and atmosphere. Lumiere’s Kitchen is the character buffet open for breakfast and dinner, and themed to the Disney animated classic Beauty and the Beast. Aurora is the other table service restaurant, and is a fine dining experience featuring modern Asian cuisine and views across the lake into the park.
Ballet Café is the food court/counter service restaurant, based on the “Dance of the Hours” sequence from Disney’s Fantasia. It shares the Fantasia theme with Bacchus Lounge, the hotel’s lobby bar. Unfortunately, due to time constraints, Bacchus Lounge was the only spot we checked out–and it was quite nice. We’ve heard nothing but great things about Aurora, though, and look forward to trying it on our next visit.
Not having time to enjoy the amenities is a common theme of our experience at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, and we also didn’t have the chance to enjoy the beautiful King Triton Pool, Hakuna Matata Oasis, hedge maze, or Mickey Mouse Playhouse (not that we would’ve tried that last one even if we had the time…but you never know!).
In fact, there was a lot I missed. Before sitting down to write this review, Sarah and I discussed various details of the resort, and we each realized we had missed things the other had seen. This underscores the point that the grounds of Shanghai Disneyland Hotel have a treasure trove to discover, and we highly recommend taking a morning or evening to simply walk the grounds and peel back the layers of detail. It’s quite clear that Imagineering put a lot of effort–and money–into the design and detail of this hotel’s common areas.
Unfortunately, you can almost see the point in design and construction where the budget started to dry up, as the guest rooms were less impressive.
Not only were there less impressive, but there are actual things you can point to and ask, “hey, shouldn’t something be there?”
One such example is the wall of the bath tube. At the Victorian flagship Disney hotels, this spot contains elaborate tile work. It looks like there’s a spot for the same tile-work here (see the protruding border above the tub?)…but it wasn’t installed.
This may seem like a minor thing, but these little omitted details add up. When you’re judging a luxury-class hotel, the hallmark of which is what could be deemed as superfluous details, it matters.
To be sure, there are some nice flourishes and Disney details in the guest rooms. There is a lot of Art Nouveau stylization in the room, including swirls in the woodwork and the design of the light fixtures. The carpet is ice, and there’s some neat Disney touches.
All told, even the guest rooms are probably on par with an average Disney Deluxe Resort (albeit not the ones in Tokyo or Hong Kong), and certainly better than any $250/night Disney hotel. (In reviewing the photos, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel room seems nicer than I recall.)
Much like the Disney hotels in Tokyo and Hong Kong, the mattresses here are firm. This is not a matter of them being low quality (at least I don’t believe so), but a matter of Asian preference. The bedding is otherwise of really high quality.
WiFi in our room was poor, but it worked much better in the lobby. We used (and recommend) portable MiFi, so this didn’t really affect us. This could have been a grand opening issue that has since been resolved, though.
Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is at the lower end of the spectrum relative to other Disney Deluxe Resorts around the world (to my knowledge, it has the lowest rates of any Deluxe). By Chinese middle class standards, it’s expensive–but no more expensive than American luxury chains (Hyatt, Marriott, etc.) located in downtown Shanghai.
Hotel Rates at Shanghai Disneyland Hotel are around $250/night, with that amount varying in both directions depending upon season. For the sake of comparison, Toy Story Hotel is a little less than half of that, at just under $125/night. If you do decide to break the bank and splurge on Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, note that there’s a Family Mart right outside the hotel where you can pick up snacks at normal “street” prices–it’s a good way to recoup some of that splurge.
While I have not stayed at Toy Story Hotel, I think Shanghai Disneyland Hotel is worth the extra cost–particularly if you’re accustomed to Disney Deluxe prices anywhere else. However, I will admit I am strongly biased against the concept and execution of Toy Story Hotel. It reminds me of a Walt Disney World Value Resort crammed into a generic high-rise hotel exterior.
I’ve been a defender of Disney’s Value Resorts, because I think there is something to be said for the whimsy of oversized icons and their appeal to families with kids. Unfortunately, Toy Story Hotel eliminates what I believe is the key selling point of the Value Resorts, and instead swaps out a generic looking building and swaps in clunky-but-better interiors.
Like I said, I’ll readily admit that I’m not a fan of the style. To be honest, I’m not really a fan of anything the parks have done with Toy Story. (I’m fine with Toy Story Land, but as a “necessary evil” packaged with more ambitious expansion plans, not as something that even remotely excites me on its own merits.) Since I know a lot of people are bound to disagree with me, here’s an opposing viewpoint: TDRExplorer’s Toy Story Hotel Review.
With that said, if budgetary constraints allow only Toy Story Hotel or an off-site hotel, I would absolutely choose Toy Story Hotel. Getting to Shanghai Disneyland from downtown via public transit is a hassle, and the cost-savings of the nearby off-site hotels does not strike me as being worth it, either.
Hotel choice is just one of several components of a trip to China that you’ll need to plan. For the rest, please consult our comprehensive Shanghai Disneyland Trip Planning Guide. If you want to see more photos or read about Shanghai Disneyland in agonizing detail, please check out our Shanghai Disneyland Grand Opening Trip Report.
Overall, Shanghai Disneyland Hotel has spotty execution on its luxurious theme, but what it does right it does really right. The common areas and grounds are lavish enough to excuse any quibbles we have with the guest rooms, and the strengths are so good that it–even considering those rooms–this hotel fits among the best of Disney’s flagship resorts around the world. It’s a shame more attention to detail wasn’t put into the rooms, because it could be in the running for best Disney hotel in the world. Even as is, this belongs on the short list for top 5. We’d love to hear what you think of Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, so please share your thoughts in the comments…