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April 8-9, 2018 - Day 1:
Travel to Shanghai & Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

Our trip started off with a very long travel day.  Left our house in Southern California around 7:45am to head to the airport.   Arrived at LAX with no delays on the freeway, at the long term parking, on the shuttle, Flight Checkin and TSA screening and we were in the Lounge by 9:30am.  Our flight was supposed to depart at 12:50pm but was delayed and we finally left the ground at 1:45pm.    Touched down in Shanghai at 6:18pm local time on Monday.  Arrived at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel just before 8:00pm and had enough time to make it to the Magic Kingdom Club check in area just as the fireworks started.  So watched the show from the lounge then checked in and found our room.   So we arrived at around 5:00am Los Angeles Time for a total travel time from house to hotel of just over 21 hours.  Spent about 45 minutes roaming the hotel grounds then decided to unpack a bit and call it a night around 10:30pm.

Thoughts & Observations
  • Travel days are always long and sometimes challenging.  The new element on this overseas trip for me was the visa process for China.  When visiting China from the United States you have a several options.  The two that pertained to me were to either obtain a regular Chinese Visa, which would cost about $150 a person plus a couple of trips to the consulate in Los Angeles to drop off the paperwork and pick up the Visas.  The second option is a 144 hour transit without visa option available for Shanghai (and some other regions in China too).  This program started in 2016 and if you are flying on to a 3rd country and do not plan to leave the Shanghai area allows you to stay for 144 hours with no fee and no visa needed.   This fit our travel as we were arriving from the US and traveling to Japan.   Because of this uncertainty made sure to allow even more time at the airport than usual.  We left before 8am for a 1pm flight.
  • Thanks to us leaving on a Sunday the traffic to LAX was minimal and we even found a spot on a low level in the parking structure and had no wait for a shuttle to the airport so everything was well ahead of schedule. 
  • At LAX we were able to use the Delta One check in because this trip we were able to fly business class for this trip.   This check area is blocked off at the end and once you enter is a lounge set up.  You can have snacks or a drink while the Delta representative checks you in.    It is a relaxing way to start the trip compared to the regular counter or even the priority counter.   The current Delta One area is a walled off area at beginning of terminal 2.  It is not a separate area and is temporary while remodeling is underway.   It is nowhere near as nice as their old facility in terminal 5.     We encountered no problems checking in and the representative knew exactly what to do to verify our transit status and set up the documents.  It was a seemly and quick process.
  • I did not have TSA pre-check this time so I had to go through the regular line and that only took a few minutes longer than the rest of my group that had pre-check.  So even that went smoothly.
  • This all added up to us being in the Delta Sky Club around 9:30am.. well over 3 hours before our flight was to leave.   I saw on the flight tracker that our plane had arrived earlier in the morning as scheduled so all looked great.  But thanks to some sort of issue the plane was late coming out of the hanger and then got hung up at the gate with some issue.  So in the end we left LAX almost an hour late. 
  • The flight was about 13.5 hours in the air which was shorter than our Hong Kong flight but still a long haul.  The flight went substantially further north than the originally shown flight map.  We were north of Anchorage Alaska and then swung over Russia and China.  We were west of Beijing and Korea where the original plan was to be east and passing between China and Japan.  So it seemed a little longer the way we went.   This meant we did not make up any time and landed in Shanghai late too.  Having a business class ticket meant I had a lay flat seat which was a huge benefit for a flight of this length.  Business class on these long haul flights really helps with jet lag.  I was able to get sleep when I wanted and all worked out as planned where I was ready to go for sightseeing our first morning in Shanghai. 

  • Delta’s business class/Delta One is lagging compared to other airlines.  Their planes feel old and the seats have old screens and not nearly as comfortable as other airlines.   Also Delta is one of the few that does not include Wi-Fi, you have to pay extra for it.  They do offer free texting Wi-Fi so I used that and it worked ok most of the flight, I thought it was very poor to not include that in a business class offering.  Also I had issues with the power receptacle and the USB was a 1amp or even less so phone charging was extremely slow.   The food service on the flight was average.  I ate the chicken as my main meal and then snacked on several items and break for the second and pre-arrivial one.   I do see that the LAX to Shanghai route is getting a new plane in the summer which based on my experience is overdue.   Also I find it really annoying how some flight attendants become obsessed with darkness.  I wanted to look out my window and they kept giving me looks and asking me to close my shade.  The views were awesome at times and it was extremely annoying to deal with them. I understand being courteous so others can sleep but I had a window seat (and three windows) and peeping out one every now and then is not a federal offense!
  • In Shanghai we found the proper line for the 144 hour transit visa and it was short when we entered, only two people in front of us.  Unfortunately the airline gave us the wrong entry forms. They gave us yellow ones and we needed blue ones.   They gave us the forms and luckily said we could fill them out and then come back to the window vs the line.  By this time the line had backed up several dozen people.   The line moved extremely slow as the verification process for the transit visas involved them checking all outbound flight confirmations and stay information in China.  So it took a while to get through but all went smoothly.  It took us just over an hour from landing until we were exiting the arrival area.
  • To get to Shanghai Disneyland from the airport there are several options.  The most used I saw online were Taxi cabs and it seemed every story had some sort of wrinkle to it.   We opted to book a van through the hotel.   This cost more but meant a larger vehicle (since we had three adults and a lot of luggage and carry ons I did not see us fitting in a regular cab).  Online most estimates were for the trip to cost about 100RMB in a cab.  We paid 300RMB for the van and it was added right onto our hotel bill.  This was an out the door price.  That translated to about $47.   We had to call the Shanghai Disneyland Reservation number to add this to our room.   You could not do it online or via email (I tried).   The one wrinkle I did not like is they send no confirmation or information until the day of departure.  Ours showed up around 6am on Sunday, so just before we left for the airport.  This was a little too close for my ease of mind.   I would have liked it a little further ahead.  The process was easy though.   As we left the arrival area there was a gauntlet to walk of shuttle drivers and others trying to give you a ride.  As we walked I found the person holding a sign with our name on it. I waved to him and he met us at the end of the walkway and grabbed a couple of our bags to help.  He then led us to the van which was in a garage across the street.   The driver appeared to know no English.  Everything was done by pointing and guiding.  It was not an issue for us.  Only challenge was he did not want to let someone sit in the front passenger seat as he had his stuff there.  So that meant I had to crawl into the third row and share it with our bags.
  • The trip from the airport to Disney was uneventful.  Unfortunately because I was crammed into the back row I could not get any pictures, plus it was dark already.  I was a little nervous at first as we drove by two exits with Mickey symbols on them.  I remembered on the map there were several exits on both sides of the property but it still made me question it a bit.. having not spoken to the driver about destination or anything.   Also I was looking at my watch as I really wanted to catch Ignite the Dream which was at 8pm and that time was rapidly approaching.
  • Upon arriving at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel several cast members greeted us.  Not sure if the driver called ahead and spoke to them or not (he made a call but no clue what he said and to whom) but the CMs took our bags and then escorted us to the elevator and sent us up to the Magic Kingdom Club to check in. 
  • As we walked entered we were greeted by two cast members at the front desk and they started the check in process. The one helping us looked at his watch and I said we had literally two minutes until Ignite the Dream.  He said to go into the lounge and watch the show and he would handle the checkin and come find us. 
  • So I walked in and found a window just as the sound track came on the speakers and the my first look at the park across the lake was as the lights were going down for the show.   I tried to get some pictures and video through the windows which meant it did not come out that well.  In person the view was ok.  You could make out an occasional projection and see the shells going off.  Audio was perfect since they piped it in.  The lounge was nearly empty. I want to say only one or two other groups watching with us.
  • After the show the cast member joined us to finish the check in process.   The Magic Kingdom Club is on the 7th floor and there are club rooms on 6 and 7.  Our room was on 6, just off the elevator.  We had a park view which was incredible.   Our room was basically above the gift shop if you went down to the lobby level (which was 3).
  • The cast members we interacted with at the hotel were all great.  They were very friendly and enthusiastic.  They knew English or at least enough to communicate/help us out.   They were always on hand/available too.  
  • The room was a regular hotel room.  There were some nice Disney touches and plenty of space for the three of us two beds and a pull out bed too.  The view across the Lake of the park and beyond was great.   Inside the room were all the regular amenities you would expect including bottled water for drinking and using for brushing your teeth (you are asked/warned not to drink the tap water in China).
  • My total travel time from leaving my house until reaching my hotel bed was about 21 hours.  So it was a long day.  Luckily I had slept some on the plane and was tired but not exhausted.  
  • I decided I was not tired enough to sleep and I wanted to see the hotel so I went on a walk for a little under an hour to get an overview and first glance at the area.  It was very peaceful at this hour being after park closing.   The hotel feel and scale reminded me of the Hong Kong Disneyland hotel.  The design reminded me of a Disney Cruise ship with the Art Nouveau look of the lobby vs Victorian.
  • Overall it was a good travel day with only minor hiccups along the way.  The most disappointing aspect was because of the LAX delay we were not able to pick up our season passes this evening which means we have to deal with that before entering the park tomorrow morning.


Pedometer Stats
Miles 1.3
Steps 3,466
Moderate Steps 1,560
Moderate Steps/Time 14
   

Pictures
Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part I Travel to Shanghai & Shanghai Disneyland Hotel

The journey to Shanghai from Los Angeles and then a quick look around the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.
Related Links From This Trip

2018 Shanghai Disney Trip Summary

Links from today: