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June 1, 2016

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Tips to maximize the magic of Disneyland

GUESTS to the soon-to-open Shanghai Disney resort can expect plenty of family fun and magical moments. But, as with many popular attractions in China, they can also expect heavy crowds and long waits. And with summer fast approaching, the weather could pose its own problems for visitors.

As the resort prepares to open its gates to the general public, here are some useful things to keep in mind so you and your family can make the most of this truly magical kingdom.


First and foremost: don’t sleep in.

Get to the resort as early as possible. During its soft opening, the park opens at 9am; yet it’s a good idea to get to the gate before this time. The earlier you arrive, the shorter you can expect to wait for rides and other attractions.

At the entrance there are brochures with maps and timetables for shows. Be sure to pick up these useful hand-outs so you don’t get lost or miss anything.

During the soft-opening period, the three most popular rides were: “TRON Light Cycle Power Run,” “Pirates of Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure” and “Soaring Over the Horizon.” Waiting times for these rides ranged from two to three hours, but to speed things up you can purchase a Fastpass.

There are Guest Services centers in each of the park’s themed lands that display the waiting time for all attractions. Visitors can get Fastpass tickets to selected rides in each land at these centers. It usually takes about 15 to 20 minutes to secure such a pass, so it is recommended that you get your tickets early.

Visitors should also be aware that they can only purchase Fastpass tickets for one attraction at a time, and can only obtain one pass every three hours. Guests should also be aware that attractions participating in the Fastpass program are subject to change.

Most rides are appropriate for all guests who are in good health. The attraction “Pirates of Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure” is intended for all ages. There are no drastic ups and downs, no fast movements or sharp turns, and no experience of weightlessness in this attraction.

“Soaring Over the Horizon” is also appropriate for most people, although the extremely vivid 4D experience might cause discomfort for people suffering from acrophobia or vertigo.

Meanwhile “TRON Light Cycle Power Run” features a brand new style of roller coaster. Seniors, as well as people with high blood pressure, heart or cerebral problems are advised to skip this ride.

Those with these conditions are also cautioned against taking the “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train” and “Roaring Rapids” rides.

For safety reasons, some attractions are also not open to children under 1.12 meters in height.

Visitors can find a full list of attractions on the resort’s official website (, complete with warnings and restrictions.

Don’t despair though if you miss an attraction here or there. There are plenty of fun activities in the resort to keep the whole family entertained.

Children will love “Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue,” a target-shooting based ride where you can help rescue the hero from the “Toy Story” series.

Meanwhile, the visually-stunning “Voyage to the Crystal Grotto” and “Once Upon a Time” in the Enchanted Storybook Castle will surely give seniors, toddlers and everyone in between a relaxing and enjoyable experience.

During the soft opening, typical waits for these rides ranged from 20 to 45 minutes.

Shows and characters

High-quality shows are a vital part of the Disney theme park experience. At the Shanghai Disney Resort, the most talked-about show is definitely the Mandarin-language version of the musical “The Lion King” at the Walt Disney Grand Theater at Disneytown.

This isn’t the only show at the park though. Three other shows that can’t be missed are: “Tarzan: Call of the Jungle” in Adventure Isle, “Frozen: A Sing-Along Celebration” in Fantasyland and “Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular” in Treasure Cove.

Visitors need to be aware that ticket-sales stop 15 minutes before each show starts. To get a good seat, it is recommended to get to the theater 30 minutes before the curtain goes up. Visitors are also encouraged to head to the Guest Services center in each area of the park.

Aside from the many stage shows, cast-members dressed as Disney movie characters can also be found roaming the park. If you’d like to meet and have your picture taken with your favorite Disney princess, head to the Storybook Court. By heading over to the Marvel Universe, you may also run into Captain America and the rest of his superhero friends.

During the soft opening, one of the most popular characters was Darth Vader from the “Star Wars” franchise. Despite his somewhat imposing appearance and an accompanying entourage of Stormtroopers, this iconic movie bad-guy is ready to pose for selfies with fans of the “Star Wars” films.

Dining and services

Unlike other Disney theme parks, the one in Shanghai is relatively lenient about outside food and drinks. Foods and beverages with complete and unwrapped package can be taken into the resort, but it is still recommended to sample the fare inside the resort.

Like many would expect, most restaurants are busy from 11:30am to 12:30pm. During this period, most soft-opening visitors waited about 20 minutes to get a meal combo.

The busiest restaurant was probably the Royal Banquet Hall in the Enchanted Storybook Castle. The dining hall provides formal Western-style meals and will accept reservations after the resort’s official opening.

Other restaurants around the park offer Western and Chinese cuisine in a casual canteen-style setting. At the Pinocchio Village Kitchen in Fantasyland, for example, diners can order rice and noodle dishes, and pizza. The three types of food are served at three counters respectively, while at the cashier’s desk, they can get desserts and fruits.

Snacks like popcorn, hotdogs, churros and smoked turkey legs are available at kiosks around the resort. The turkey legs have been particularly popular so far, with some people waiting more than half an hour to sink their teeth into this succulent treat.

There are also Chinese-style snacks, such as tea-smoked duck legs at the Picnic Baskets in the Gardens of Imagination.


Disneyland is known for its caring and considerate services. In Shanghai resort, people with special needs can expect top-notch service.

Comprehensive services for people with disabilities are available in both the resort and two hotels. These include access to assistive listening systems in Chinese and English, and tactile maps featuring Braille. Besides, all toilets in the park have wheelchair access or are adjacent to companion toilets.

Guide dogs are also allowed in the resort.

Information about the park’s barrier-free facilities can be found on the official website.

For parents with babies, a special care center is located between Fantasyland and Adventure Isle. Open during regular theme-park hours, the staffed facility features a room with televisions, nursing rooms, a changing room, a feeding area with a microwave and sink. Baby products such as diapers and baby bottles are also sold in the facility.

In each of the park’s themed areas there are also toilets for families equipped with changing tables.

Baby strollers can be rented for 50 yuan (US$7.60) per day in the resort. Other services, such as luggage deposit, are also available.

Traffic info:

Metro Line 11 goes directly to the resort. The station name Shanghai Disney Resort tells everything. Disneyland, Disneytown and Wishing Star Park are each about five to 10 minutes’ walk from the station. People can walk or take a shuttle bus to the parking lot near the resort.

Ticket info:

Tickets can be booked at


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