Shanghai Disneyland Review Part 2: The Rest & SDL’s One HUGE Problem!

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Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review – Part 2

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Yesterday in part 1 of my Shanghai Disneyland review, I covered the park’s entrance, hub and Tomorrowland sections. In this second part I’ll cover the rest of the park including Fantasyland, Treasure Cove, Adventure Isle and the one serious issue this park is already facing after less than six months of being open.

Fantasyland

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review
Wide open paths in Fantasyland.

Continuing clockwise through our tour of the park, we arrive at Fantasyland. Home to the most attractions of any land in Shanghai Disneyland, Fantasyland is massive. Fantasyland is home to a mix of traditional Disney and attractions unique to Shanghai Disneyland.

Among the opening day attractions in Shanghai Disneyland are popular rides like Peter Pan’s Flight and Winnie the Pooh. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster which recently opened up at Walt Disney World is here too and the familiar tea cups have been given a Winnie the Pooh theme in Shanghai.

Perhaps the most impressive parts of Fantasyland are the unique bits. The Alice in Wonderland Maze is signicantly bigger than its Paris counterpart and the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto boat ride is one of a kind. Disney has talked about this ride for a long time hyping the fact that it goes under the castle, but that is probably the most underwhelming part. The outdoor storybook sections are well done though and the ride looks fantastic at night.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

 

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

While the Florida and Shanghai versions Seven Dwarfs are almost the same, the queues are a bit different and so is the scenery at the end. For my group the most noticeable difference though was the fact that the cars actually swing a lot more in Shanghai than they do in Florida! It was a pleasant surprise and one that makes this version of the ride a bit better! Plus, who doesn’t like listening to “High Ho” in Mandarin?

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Both the Winnie the Pooh dark ride and teacup replacement Hunny Pot Spin are located in their own area towards the very back of the park. If you have been to Tokyo you know that the Winnie the Pooh ride there is among the best dark rides in the world. Unfortunately Shanghai’s version is very similar to what can be found in Anaheim, Florida and even Hong Kong. Fun, but basic.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

As I said before, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is among Fantasyland’s signature attractions. Located just behind the castle, this boat ride is like a full size version of Storybook Land at the original Disneyland park. During the ride many classic Disney stories come to life and then it all comes together as you travel in a cave underneath the park’s massive castle.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review
The ride looks amazing at night.

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Just to the side of the castle is the Alice in Wonderland Maze. It is quite elaborate and takes awhile to work your way through. Disney put a lot of detail into the many sections of the maze and it pays to take it in slowly. I appreciated that this area is recessed which gave yet another unique perspective on what I believe to be Disney’s finest castle ever!

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Speaking of the castle, in traditional Disney style it has a walkthrough attraction of its own. Unlike the castles at other parks, this one which is named  Enchanted Storybook Castle doesn’t belong to any one Princess as far as I understand it. With that said, the wakthrough attraction tells the story of Snow White and the 7 Dwarfs. It uses the latest technology and is incredibly well done!

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review
Inside of the castle.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review
Shanghai Disneyland castle walkthrough.

Treasure Cove

If we keep moving clockwise out of the massive Fantasyland section, then we arrive at Treasure Cove. The big ride in this area is Pirate’s of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure. It is unlike any other ride ever created and is completely based on the new movies. In other words, this isn’t your grandfather’s Pirates and you’ll be glad it isn’t.

Battle for the Sunken Treasure is built at such a massive scale that it is almost completely unbelievable. It also uses never before seen technologies to immerse you in the story. For true spoilers you can find good POV videos on YouTube, but if you ever plan on visiting, do yourself a favor and let it all be a surprise.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Like the original Pirates of the Caribbean in Anaheim, Shanghai’s version goes through a restaurant at the beginning of the ride. Unlike Anaheim (and some of the other parks), this restaurant is quick service, meaning you don’t need to spend a fortune (or anything) to go inside and view the ride. Here are a couple of photos, but it was dark and hard to capture.

Shanghai Disneyland Review
View of the restaurant from the ride.
Shanghai Disneyland Review
View of the ride from the restaurant.

The other major attractions in Treasure Cove are canoes, which run on the area’s beautiful lagoon and a Captain Jack Sparrow stunt show. As you can imagine, Treasure Cove is themed heavily and there is a lot of detail everywhere.

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review
Canoes.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Adventure Isle

The final area of the park is perhaps what you could call the “least Disney” area. Adventure Isle in many ways is a modern adult take on Adventureland and is home to a Rapids Ride built into a gorgeous mountain. The area also has a ropes course and houses the park’s Soaring Over the Horizon attraction.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Having been on the rapids rides at both Animal Kingdom in Orlando and California Adventure in Anaheim, I sort of knew what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. Shanghai’s version while similar in some ways (especially to Anaheim’s), is definitely a step above. It features two huge drops and an amazing surprise inside that mountain!

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Speaking of the mountain, the rapids ride isn’t the only attraction it contains. Sprawled across the front side of it are two ropes courses. I will admit that these courses don’t feel very “Disney”, but they are among the best themed and most elaborate I have ever seen. I was wearing open heeled shoes and wasn’t allowed to go, but my friends had a great time and I was able to follow them around the course on paths built for those who can’t participate.

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

The final major attraction in Adventure Isle is Soaring Over the Horizon. I will admit that this ride baffles me quite a lot. First off, the queue is amazing. It is themed to a temple and fits in perfectly in the area. This theming is even carried over to the safety video where the guide talk about mystical things, etc. By the time you reach the ride you think it is going to be something special. Perhaps a ride through space? A journey to find your Animal Spirit Guide? Nope!

In fact, Soaring Over the Horizon is just Soarin’ Over the World. This film debuted in Shanghai and then replaced the old Soarin’ Over California films in both Orlando and Anaheim the next day. While the queue is quite amazing and much more elaborate than other Soarin’ rides, the film is basically the same.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review
Soaring queue.
Shanghai Disneyland Review
Soaring safety video.

Parade

Shanghai Disneyland doesn’t have a night time parade, but does have a rather large daytime affair. It is very traditionally Disney in that it contains large floats with characters from their cartoons. With that said, the floats were all very high quality and the parade had a good energy to it. I generally don’t stop to watch parades, but enjoyed this one.

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Fast Passes

Fastpasses at Shanghai Disneyland work similar to how they do at Disneyland. You scan your ticket and get a return window of one hour. You cannot get another fastpass until your original fastpass can be used. Unlike Disneyland (and all other resorts except for Walt Disney World) the fastpass machines are not located at the rides themselves. I found this rather inconvenient.

Throughout the park there are several Guest Services kiosks where you can get fastpasses. Some lands like Tomorrowland only have one while others like Fantasyland have more. Guest Services locations only have fastpasses for rides in that same land. They also have wait and return times posted. It takes a little getting used to, but you’ll want to visit these areas instead of the rides themselves to get your fastpasses. The Shanghai Disneyland app also has wait times and the park has free WiFi.

Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

Shanghai Disneyland’s HUGE Issue

And so now I have saved the bad news for last. Shanghai Disneyland has one shocking problem and it isn’t people urinating in the bushes. In fact, we didn’t see any of that, but did notice that people liked to smoke in the bathrooms. Of course the problem isn’t smoking either and I wanted to mention it last because I don’t feel that it should sway opinion of the park too much since it is completely fixable. It is still a huge problem nonetheless and cannot go without being mentioned.

I don’t know if the park was simply rushed too fast or vendors used inferior products, but there is paint peeling EVERYWHERE. The only land that is somewhat immune is Tomorrowland since it has more metal and glass, but the rest of the park is in rough shape. Keep in mind it has only been open less than 6 months. I simply don’t understand. I could have posted 100 photos of peeling paint, but I think these will give you an idea.

Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review Shanghai Disneyland Review

The problem is widespread and on almost every attraction. Shanghai Disneyland management is going to have to spend a lot of time and money painting everything again, because it looks bad and isn’t up to Disney standards. The good news is that this is a simple fix and the park itself was built at such a high level of quality that once the paint is fixed, it will feel completely Disney.

Final Thoughts

Shanghai Disneyland is a world class theme park. In fact, it is the most beautiful of the six Disneyland parks and is truly impressive top to bottom. Yes, it is a little light on attractions, but those will fill in over time and there is plenty of space for new rides. During our visit we found the park clean and the guests well behaved. My only issue is the paint and that is a serious one. It isn’t going to be a quick fix, but something needs to be done because it is already pretty bad.

In the end I am grateful that Disney decided to build this park different from all of the rest. Truthfully they hit a homerun in creating a different Disney experience and one that I believe will be popular in the long run. The park does face issues and complaints of long lines and high prices, but I think in 20 years Disneyland will be as much a part of the culture in Shanghai as it has become in the other cities.


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17 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks for the great review. Interested in the review due to my 2 little ones.

    A question, if you don’t mind. Is Shanghai Disney any more crowded than other Disney parks?

  2. For the indoor rides, did you find it annoying that people would bring out their phones to film everything? If so, do you think this is maybe more of an issue in China than elsewhere?

    • It didn’t bother me since most people knew to turn down the brightness. The only ride where the filming was very common was Pirates but the way the boats are setup made it not too bad.

  3. Great review! Thank you Shawn! A few more questions for you:
    Other than the Chinese characters, was there anything ‘Chinese’ about this park? Like, was there a Mulan section at all?
    Do you think 1 day is enough for this park or are more days sufficient? I have no plans to go to Shanghai right now but since I don’t have a Chinese visa, I would most likely take advantage of the 72 hour free transit visa and hope that this is enough time for me to visit the park (I’ve been to Shanghai before.)
    Was English spoken in the rides or is it mostly in Mandarin?
    It’s unfortunate the paint is already peeling everywhere! Wow.

    • I am far from an expert on Chinese culture, but just about everything seemed to be tweaked for the locals. With that said, the Gardens of Imagination are Chinese Gardens with a tea house and there are various other touches around the park. Mulan appears in the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto as shown above and in the parade but she doesn’t have her own land.

      I think two days is probably good if you want to take it all in, but you could probably rush around on one slow day and get on all of the rides. The park is truly massive so it takes awhile getting from one side or the other. English is spoken by most cast members and the signs are generally in both Chinese and English.

  4. We just visited SDLmon Friday and, in addition to the peeling paint, I think there is one other MAJOR issue: the park lacks enough attractions to accommodate the number of people visiting the park. Wait times by midday were already exceeding 100+ minutes and most FastPasses had been distributed. For a city of this size, I found the park to have lots of wasted space (for example, Tomorrow Land only has three rides but an amazing amount of green space). I hope they have plans to expand quickly, otherwise this park may go the way of Hong Kong Disneyland, which is also a VERY underwhelming park.

    That being said, the Pirates ride was amazing and an awesome use of technology.

    • Hey Matt. I could definitely see the park getting crazy during busy days. I think we were lucky to have one very dead day and another moderately busy day.

      All of that green space is there for future expansions and they apparently have aggressive expansion plans. Unfortunately the open and build out strategy has been one Disney has used for awhile. At least in this park unlike Hong Kong they have the space and the plans.

      Toy Story Land is already under construction in the area between Tomorrowland and Fantasyland sort of near where the Frozen sing a long is. That should open next year and then I believe the next big expansion is that area directly to the left of Pirates. With all of that space they will have the opportunity to build much more.

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