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April 10, 2018 - Day 2:
Shanghai Disneyland

Woke up way too early, around 5am and unpacked a bit then roamed the hotel a bit.  Went to the Magic Kingdom Club for breakfast at 7am when they open.  Boarded a bus to DisneyTown arriving just before 8am.  Found out there is no guest services there to pick up a season pass so had to get to front of park and join the massive lines.  Finally got our passes and entered the park, my 12th Disney park.   Took a quick look at Mickey Ave and tried to get the App to work to make FastPass reservations.  As I wandered through the Gardens of Imagination kept trying.  Made our way into Fantasyland to look around.  Got a peak at Toy Story Land since the walls are down but barriers up making it off limits still.   Continued on to Tomorrowland then back decided to head to guest relations to try and get the app to work.  Several castmembers tried but no luck.  I left for the 10:15pm Castle Show with it unresolved.  Arrived a couple minutes to show time and found an ok spot.   After the show fiddled with the App and got it working, but most Fastpasses were gone already.  Picked up Peter Pan for the evening.  Walked through Treasure Cover and Adventure Isle and then found a place near the DisneyTown exit for the parade.   Decided on the Blue Frog Bar and Grill for a later lunch then took the boat back to the hotel to see what was going on there.  After a quick rest headed for the bus and back to the park.  Much easier to enter this time.  Walked around the Gardens for a while then through the castle to Fantasyland.  Explored Alice’s maze then wandered around Fantasyland and ended up in Tomorrowland.  Waited about 20 minutes for Buzz then checked out the Star Wars Launch Bay followed by the TRON/Chevrolet Exhibit.  Saw the start of the dance party then continued on back to Fantasyland.  Grabbed a bite to eat at the Village Haus then used our Peter Pan FastPass.  Plan was to do the Crystal Grotto, but the wait was still an hour so instead opted for Pirates which was 30 minutes.   After our cruise found a spot for Ignite the Dream near Storytellers.  Then joined the masses exiting the park.  Took a launch back to the Disneyland Hotel.   Stopped by the Kingdom Club for the 9:10pm story time and Mickey greeting then back to the room to call it a night.

Thoughts & Observations
  • I was up way before breakfast began, which gave me some time to explore the hotel and see the grounds now that it was daylight.   It was a pleasant surprise to be able to make out some of the Shanghai skyline in the distance beyond the park.
  • The Magic Kingdom Club serves breakfast each morning.  It was great to eat and have a view of the park (same view as our room).   There was a fair number of both western and Asian choices available.   One short coming of the breakfast is it does not start until 7am.  With an 8am park opening that is really tight and means you cannot get to the park too early.  We ate a fairly quick breakfast which got us to the park before 8am but not by much.  It would have been much better with a 6:30am start.
  • The Disney Hotels have a perk for park entry where they drop you off by the Disneytown Entrance and that is exclusive.  This is great if you have your ticket already.  But we learned if you do not or if you were like us and needed to pick up your ticket this added a level of confusion and challenges.   Upon arriving at Disneytown we looked around and noticed no guest information kiosk or ticket booth so we asked the cast member checking resort IDs.  They informed us we had to go to the front of the park.   So we set off through Disneytown in the direction they pointed.   This worked ok until we got near the park entrance and ran into walls of barriers and security cast members.   The cast members were trying to be helpful but several did not understand English so they sought out help from those who did and those did not fully understand what I wanted to do.  So it took several minutes to find the proper instructions and then to find  a path to join the line since we were technically in an off limits area.  Eventually they moved some barriers and we joined the large crowd in the main entrance queue.
  • The main entrance queue in the morning for Shanghai Disneyland is an experience in itself.  All park open crowds build and it is a sea of humanity but in Shanghai it seems to be a level beyond that.  They have a maze of metal barriers for you to navigate to reach security.   We quickly learned that the average Chinese guest likes to just keep walking.  If you leave any space several will try to fill it.  And if you take a corner wide or slowly several will pass you then the rest of their group will push through you to join them.   I had been warned that guests can be aggressive in the queues and I tried to warn my family but they really did not grasp it until this experience.
  • Eventually we made it through security then needed to find guest relations or a ticket window.  Luckily since everyone seemed to have a paper ticket or a digital ticket there was no wait to reach a window.  I explained to the cast member what I wanted to do which was pick up season passes that we ordered via a phone call to the hotel ahead of time.  I gave them the confirmation number and the passport that was used to book them.   This turned out to be a challenge.  It took in total 5 cast members and a long time to resolve this and get our three season passes issued properly.  I quickly learned that purchasing via telephone was the wrong thing to do.  I would have saved a lot of time and confusion if I just purchased at the window directly.  I had hoped purchasing through the hotel I could pick up at the hotel but that failed and in the end it cost me a lot of time and confusion.
  • Once we got that worked out we moved to the next queue which was to enter the park.  There were dedicated season pass lines which we found and utilized.  The park entry lines moved slow.  To enter they require identification and your ticket.  For us that meant they required Passports.  So I had to carry and show my passport to enter the park plus my park ticket.  They would compare the passport info and picture to that assigned to the season pass and the picture that came up when they scanned the pass.  Then they would let you through.  If everything matched it was fairly quick.  What we noticed is it seemed a fair number of people had issues.  So lines moved slowly.
  • Now that we finally reached the park, much later than planned, it was time to book a FastPass using the app.  I was on the park Wi-Fi and had the app already.  I quickly linked our tickets with no issue then I went to select my first attraction and it said I had no connection.   Which was false since I was online to make the selection.  I fiddled with it for about 10 minutes on two phones and got the same error on both.  I decided to go explore the park and circle back to this later.  So as I walked around for the next half hour or so I was distracted trying the app which kept failing. I ended up uninstalling and re-installing.  Trying combinations of user accounts, vpn, etc..   no luck.   I asked guest relations at the information kiosk. They tried and were completely puzzled.  They said I should go to the main guest relations at the park entrance.  I had 20 minutes before the castle show so I went.  I ended up with three cast members helping me.  They tried the same thing as me as well as installing the Chinese version.  All failed at the same point.  I gave up because I wanted to see the castle show so I ran out of there and to the show arriving a minute or so before show time so my view choices were limited and I was rushed.  Plus I was frustrated I still could not make a FastPass reservation.   The only way to get FastPass in Shanghai is via the app. There are no kiosks and no paper.  Looking back I was disappointed that guest relations basically shrugged their shoulders after trying everything. There was no backup plan or alternative option.  I was left without a FastPass option and the morning was quickly ending and FastPass availability nearly gone.  During the I tried a backup phone I had that had no cell coverage just Wi-Fi and what I learned is if you take the phone out of airplane mode it would work.  So the app did not check for an internet connection it was actually checking the mode of the phone.  So Wi-Fi with working internet did not work until airplane mode was off.   I was very happy I had the old phone with no cell plan so I could do this and not have to worry about international charges, etc..    but no one at the park or online seemed to know this and it was a dumb luck hail mary attempt that I tried.  It worked so I was able to book a FastPass but at this hour my choices were limited. I grabbed a Peter Pan for late afternoon.
  • Now that all the technical hurdles and logistics were worked out I could actually start to absorb the park and enjoy the day.  Today was a picture perfect blue sky day, only one forecasted our trip.  So I wanted to make the most of it and see the outdoor shows, parade, and just roam the park.  I ignored everything that was inside for the most part.   As I walked around the park looked great with the clear skies.    Attraction wait times rose quickly and FastPasses were gone early in the day.  With a small number of attractions even on non peak days the wait times were long.
  • As I walked around the park I did come across several people selling trinkets and other knock off items.   For the most part they looked like keychain bobbles and things like that.  They seemed to ignore us.  I later found out they were ignoring us since they used Wechat Pay and they knew Westerns did not have that.  This was something new/odd to see in a Disney Park and I never did get used to seeing it. 
  • I circled the park in between shows/parade and really enjoyed seeing it.   The new Toy Story Land opens April 26th and I was hoping for a soft opening. They had the walls down and just metal barriers up so you could see in.  They had invited guests only inside so I kept checking throughout my stay to see if they would open it for the public (spoiler I did get one hour on Thursday evening inside).
  • The park has several unique lands not found elsewhere.  The entrance area is Mickey Avenue and instead of a single long street is a medium length street that fans out a little too.   The center of the park is called the Gardens of Imagination and it is a very large area that includes several attractions that you would typically find in Fantasyland (Carousel & Dumbo) plus some meet and greets.   Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove are also exclusive to Shanghai and were interesting to walk around (comments on them later).   Even lands you are used to are executed differently.  For example Tomorrowland is layed out in two levels with entrances for a couple of attractions and dining above the rest of the land.   Fantasyland encircles the Crystal Grotto Boat attraction so it feels very spread out compared to other parks.
  • Golden Fairytale Fanfare is the castle show, this is the original show that premiered when the park opened.   I thought it was a big production number with a large cast and some colorful costumes. It had a fair mix of Disney and Chinese feel to it.  The staging in front of the large Enchanted Storybook Castle with a bright blue sky looked awesome.  We really enjoyed the show. 
  • Mickey’s Storybook Express is the daytime character parade that rolls through the park.   It has a variety of characters from Disney as well as Pixar films as you would expect.  I thought opening with Casey Jr and closing with a caboose was fun.  The train theme is not present throughout though.  The Mulan unit was detailed and highlight.  The parade route is fairly long so finding a spot with a view was a not a big challenge.  I wanted one with a good angle and where no one could jump in front of me and that was a little more challenging.  
  • For lunch we left the park and stopped by Disneytown.  Ended up at the Blue Frog Bar and Grill.  Again I ran into technical issues as I tried to join their club and could not this time through Wechat because it required a Chinese phone number to verify via text.   I forgot to check if it was an AP discount location because I had not linked that fully to WeChat yet and missed out on 10% off.   The burger was decent, better than what I saw in the park.  Prices were not too bad, it was less costly than Cheesecake Factory and Wolfgang Puck.   One mistake I made was to order a fountain drink. I was smart enough to ask about refills (which they do not offer, except during happy hour you get one refill).  The mistake was I forgot to ask for no ice. So I ended up with a cup of ice and almost nothing to drink!   And I refused to pay for a second one.  So I sipped that and some bottled water I had.  I did notice several tables people pulled out bottles from their bags and drank what they brought in with them. 
  • Since I was thirsty and curious after lunch ventured back to the hotel to check out the afternoon dessert/snack spread at the Magic Kingdom Club.    The club again was a ghost town, most cast members than guests.  There was a variety of desserts plus a selection of drinks available.  We ate dessert and drank some Pepsi (yes.. Disney is Pepsi in China not Coke).  
  • To return to the hotel we took the boat.  The boat runs across Wishing Star Lake and takes only a few minutes to reach the hotel.   It is a Friendship style craft.   Inside it seemed larger than the Friendships plus brighter and with a large LCD screen in the front of the cabin that played Disney ads/videos.   One drawback is during most of the day they only run one boat.  And it seemed common on later days for it to be shut down during some of the afternoon.
  • To return to the parks we opted to take the bus because I wanted to see where the regular drop off/pick up was.  Buses ran very frequently and were convenient at the hotel.    On the Disneyland side they drop off in the main bus area and it is a little bit of a hike from there past World of Disney to the front entrance.  The boat is a much shorter walk as is the morning drop off at DisneyTown. 
  • Re-entry in the late afternoon was a very pleasant experience with no wait at security or the turn styles.  
  • In the afternoon paid a visit to Fantasyland.  First stop was to walk around the castle.  It is a very large structure compared to the other castle and you can enter/exit from all four directions.   The central courtyard is impressive with a great view up.  The artwork represents several fairtales.    Overall I thought it worked and in person looked much better than pictures. In pictures it seemed rather boxy to me but it works well in person.
  • Spent some time wandering around the Alice in Wonderland Maze.  I thought this was a fun use of space.  Having it be below grade so guests walking around Fantasyland can look down on the maze was a nice feature.  
  • Took a look at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Tomorrowland.  Star Wars is not overly popular in China.  The bay was a near ghost town with more Cast Members than guests moving about.  Characters were at the end of their Meet and Greets interacting with anyone that walked by.  So I was able to see several with no wait. 
  • The Buzz Lightyear attraction in Shanghai is a next generation compared to what the other parks have.  It feels much more like a video game with targets that are screens and change as you shoot them. Also the guns have colored lasers so you can see which is yours a lot easier.   The ride experience is the same in terms of an omnimover that you can control direction and blasters to shoot targets with a score.   We really enjoyed the game.  One note it felt darker than the other Buzz games. Not sure if this was to make the targets more visible or just a darker planet we were visiting.
  • As I was walking around the park I noticed more smoking areas than other parks or at least more guests smoking in more areas.  The cigarettes in China seemed to be even stronger smelling than those elsewhere.  They really bothered me.  So if you are sensitive to cigarette smoke something to note.
  • We were not that hungry for dinner but decided to grab a bite from the Village Haus.  This seemed to be the plan for many as there were people everywhere inside.  Adding to the congestion was the fact that they had started to close some seating areas for the evening already.   The restaurant is set up in a scramble format where you can pick up food from multiple counters then a single paypoint on the way out.  We opted for pizza.  I would have liked to have had a basic cheese option but everything was more than that.. the topping choices felt more like what you would see on flatbreads.   The pizza was Mickey shaped and tasted ok.   I had WeChat working and linked so I was able to use my Season Pass discount on a set/combo meal.  Using it was pretty simple.  You just have to have your coupon ready and the cast member will scan it at the register.  So dinner was a good deal.  T
  • Used our FastPass for Peter Pan.  This was our first use of FastPass.  Interesting to note you need to scan your ticket here just like Anaheim, but here your picture pops up and the cast member looks to compare the picture.  It seemed people were either trying to cheat the system or having problems as they were slow going.   Also they did this scan and compared at both the entrance and merge point.
  • Peter Pan’s Flight attraction in Shanghai has large two row pirate ships and seemed slightly longer than elsewhere.   It integrates more screens and projections, it felt very similar to Alice in Wonderland in Disneyland in that respect.  I thought the screen use was well done for the most part and added to the experience.   Due to the screen use though it seemed the use of figures was more limited throughout.  Overall though I thought it was a great version of the attraction.
  • One of my main objectives of the day was to visit Pirates of the Caribbean but every time I checked throughout the afternoon it was either down or had an hour wait.  Finally as the sun was setting the line dropped to a reasonable point and I decided to squeeze it in before Ignite the Dream.   The queue had some fun details and like traditional Pirates attractions moved along at an ok pace.  It was a little more challenging than everywhere else because if you hesitated or left space to talk to your group others would try to fill the space or push by you.   The boats and ride system for this attraction are amazing and offer a lot more flexibility and an enhanced experience over all the others.   The use of screens, large sets, and figures is very well done.  For my taste it is a little too screen heavy still but the integration works well, better than Ratatouille.    The AA figures that are in the attraction have a lot of detail and great movement.     There are a couple classic scene nods but overall it is a whole new experience and it works well.  All the dialog is in Mandarin but you can get the drift of what is happening for the most part but I felt like I was missing some little details.   I was lucky enough to draw a front row seat which mean a clear unobstructed view so it was great!   It is definitely a must see attraction.
  • Due to the large number of Metro Riding guests visiting the park it closes relatively early, 8pm most days 8:30pm on some.  Ignite the Dream, which is the castle projection and fireworks show, is held at park closing.  With the early closing time it means a large number of guests stay until the end.  I noticed a dip in wait times as 8pm approached but not like other parks. 
  • The best views of Ignite the Dream are from the Gardens of Imagination with a clear view of the castle to see the projections.   This means everyone tries to crowd in.  We found a spot in the center beyond the Carousel, so closer to Mickey Ave than the Castle.  The area was completely jammed with guests everywhere.   The crowd kept jostling for position before the show and during the show.   It was a constant flow of people moving, pushing, around us.   There was very little crowd control in the area.   Because of the constant movement and level ground we quickly learned we had chosen unwisely for a first viewing.  The experience we less than ideal.   I was able to see some projections and effects but it was a tough experience and others in the group were less than enthused to try and see the show again. 
  • As soon as the show ended the mass turned and moved toward the exit while the post show/exit sequence played.  We tried to watch a bit but gave up and joined the exit.   It seemed most were heading toward the Metro and a slightly smaller portion toward the parking lot and bus area.  We split the difference and walked out to the lake and caught the boat back. There were two boats running and ours filled probably just over halfway in about 5 minutes and pulled away so the other one could arrive.
  • At 9:10pm there is a storytime session in the Magic Kingdom Club.  We stopped by to get something to drink and see what this entailed.   There were a half dozen kids and their families present and a cast member read them a Disney story, in Mandarin.   For the finale Mickey makes an appearance in his PJs to say good night to everyone and pose for a round of pictures.  The cast members made sure that all kids, their families, then anyone else in the lounge got a photopass picture taken and one with their camera.  There were a handful of cast members on hand to manage the event and it went very smoothly.  My only complaint is I thought the photos seemed a little rushed and the lighting was tricky so photos were not the best.   I was talking to a cast member and they said the attendance varies dramatically. We were there on a moderate night.  They said the evening before there was only one family.  The peak is usually around a dozen.  I thought this was a nice perk of the club level.
  • With my first day in the books I was happy with what we were able to see and do and the blue sky weather was a huge plus.   The day started off very frustrating and I felt like I lost two golden hours in the morning to logistics and problems but we still managed to do most of what I wanted to for the first day.

Pedometer Stats
Miles 10.0
Steps 26,437
Moderate Steps 14,984
Moderate Steps/Time 138

Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part I Part I: Magic Kingdom Club Breakfast & Getting to Shanghai Disneyland

A look from our room at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel then breakfast at the Magic Kingdom Club before heading over to the park.
Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part II Part II: A Walk Through the Park

Took a stroll through Fantasyland, stopping to look into Toy Story Land and then a quick walk by of Tomorrowland.

Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part III

Part III: Golden Fairtale Fanfare

A look at the castle show.

Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part IV Part IV: Treasure Cove & Adventure Isle

My first walk through Treasure Cove and Adventure Isle to complete my initial circle of the park.

Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part V Part V: Mickey's Storybook Express

A quick walk along the Gardens of Imagination then a look at the daytime parade.

Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part VI Part VI: Magic Kingdom Club & Gardens of Imagination

We take a lunch break in Disneytown then head back to the hotel to check out the clubs dessert offerings before returning to the park and exploring the Gardens of Imagination.

Shanghai Disneyland - Day 4 - Part VI Part VII: Fantasyland, Tomorrowland, Ignite the Dream & Mickey Mouse

To close out our busy day a visit to Fantayland and the Alice Maze and finishing our walk around the park then on to Tomorrowland to explore it a little more. Closed out the evening wtih Peter Pan and Pirates then Ignite the Dream and a good night from Mickey Mouse.
Related Links From This Trip

2018 Shanghai Disney Trip Summary

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