Shanghai Disneyland Review – Part 1
- Shanghai Disneyland Review – Part 2
- Shanghai Disneyland Hotel Review
- Toy Story Hotel Review – Shanghai Disney Resort
As I wrote about earlier this year, 2016 is the #YearOfDisney for me. Following early year visits to Disneyland Paris and Walt Disney World, I recently visited Hong Kong Disneyland and the brand new Shanghai Disneyland as well. I’ll hopefully finish off the year with visits to Tokyo and Anaheim to complete visits to all resorts this calendar year.
Shanghai Disneyland is the newest Disney Resort having opened this past Summer. It consists of two hotels, a shopping area called Disneytown and Shanghai Disneyland park. When designing this park, Disney decided to make it different than other “Magic Kingdoms” around the world by utilizing the mantra “Authentically Disney and Distinctly Chinese”. They succeeded on every level.
I have now been to every Disney park in the world multiple times (with the exception of my lone visit to Shanghai) and can without a doubt say that Shanghai Disneyland is the prettiest Disneyland style park and perhaps the grandest as well. Instead of talking too much about it, I thought I would take you on a detailed tour. Due to the number of photos, I’ll break up this review into a couple of posts. Enjoy!
In Shanghai Disneyland, the Main Street Area has been replaced by Mickey Avenue. This area is much shorter than traditional Main Streets, but has many of the same shops/eateries that you would expect. Instead of being themed to small town Americana, Mickey Avenue has shops named/themed after various Disney cartoon characters. This isn’t a cheaply done “Toon Town” ripoff though, it feels very high quality and somewhat adult.
Before reaching Mickey Avenue, you enter the park under the faux train station. There is no train at Shanghai Disneyland, but this entrance makes the visuals seem familiar. After going under the station and passing the familiar attraction posters though, you’ll immediately know that you aren’t in Anaheim, Orlando, Tokyo, Paris or Hong Kong. Let’s take a look!
As I mentioned, the Mickey Avenue area is perhaps half as long as Main Street USA, but it packs in a lot of quality and theming into the smaller space. It also spills out into the “hub” area more than Main Street leaving plenty of options for shopping and dining.
Gardens of Imagination
At Shanghai Disneyland the traditional hub has been redesigned into the stunning Gardens of Imagination. At 15 acres, this area seems to be the biggest hub of any Disneyland Park and it is definitely the prettiest. In addition to the sprawling gardens, the area is home to the park’s carousel and Dumbo ride along with a Marvel meet and greet.
As you can see from the photo above, the small moat in front of the Castle holds water fountains. These fountains are used in combination with Castle projections, music, lights and fireworks to make the park’s night time show. Sort of a combination of World of Color and your traditional Disney fireworks show. Like the rest of the park, Gardens of Imagination is simply STUNNING at night.
Shanghai Disneyland’s Tomorrowland is anything but traditional Disney. To start, instead of the familiar right turn at the hub, in Shanghai you turn left. The changes don’t stop there though. There is no Space Mountain in Shanghai. It has been replaced by the absolutely stunning TRON Lightcycle Power Run roller coaster.
Other attractions in this area include a nicely updated Buzz Lightyear shooting ride (much better than the other versions), a stage that turns into a rocking disco at night and Star Wars Launch Bay which is home to character meet and greets and Star Wars props. The park’s Jet Packs rocket ride has yet to open, but it welcomes visitors to Tomorrowland and should be a nice addition once up and running.
Shanghai Disneyland was built to be visited at night. The entire park is simply gorgeous when the sun goes down, but Tomorrowland is by far the best example of this. Not only does TRON become a completely different (and improved experience) at night, the entire land is lit up in gorgeous hues of blues, greens, red and purples. Watching the coaster’s lightcycle cars speed by creates an amazing sense of atmosphere.
TRON itself is an amazing attraction. The queue is modern and uses the TRON styling that we all know from the movies. Additionally, the preshow is quite fantastic as well. Shortly after entering the building, you find yourself in an enclosed room with video walls. Before long, a brief show starts on the wall before the image goes away and reveals what is on the other side. It is the coaster launching! My video is at the end. It is so much better in person though.
TRON is about as Disney as you get when it comes to theming and ride experience. They took a fairly basic coaster and turned it into a world class ride. No exaggeration. I don’t want to spoil anything, but the ride is gorgeous and the cars themselves are as much a part of it as any set piece.
In this first part I have barely scratched the surface of what this park has to offer. Tomorrow I will take you through Fantasyland including more gardens and the amazing castle walkthrough, we’ll journey into Pirates of the Caribbean, a ride that is the best of its kind in the world and go to Adventure Isle for a few Disneyland firsts including a ropes course and rapids ride.
This park isn’t perfect though, so I’ll show you some concerns I have as well and next week I’ll have full reviews of both on-site hotels, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel. Enjoy the photos and please share your thoughts about this park or Disney in general in the comments!