When I saw that there was a Disneyworld in Shanghai (fine, Shanghai Disney Resort), it immediately shot to the top of my short to do list. I grew up watching Disney movies and waited every year for the Disney Christmas special to air on Christmas Eve morning. I worked near the Paris Disney world for six months years ago but never made it there then, and didn’t have time to visit the one in California either when I was there earlier on my Grand Adventure. So now was my chance!
I checked how to get there and what it cost. For a Disney world, it was cheap at 370 yuan, or about 42 GBP. The one in California costs about 100 USD actually, so this was a bargain! Getting there was also easy: I walked to People’s Square, hopped to metro line 8, and changed to metro line 11 at Oriental Sports Center stop and rode on until the last stop. The whole took about an hour, including the walk.
It was a lovely sunny morning that turned into a hot sunny day. I was fully bedecked in my long sleeved sun shirt, trousers, sun hat and slathered in sun lotion. As I only made up my mind that morning, I didn’t have a pre-booked ticket, but as I was there about an hour after opening, it only took about five minutes of queueing to get my ticket. The park had a good number of people actually, enough to give it a buzz, but not too busy. Only the most popular rides had wait times of 50 minutes or so, but as these were usually the big roller coasters, I was skipping them anyway. I mean I have to take motion sickness tablets on buses, there was no way I was going on a roller coaster!
I had only a vague idea of what I wanted to do, and mostly wandered quite happily around, watching other happy people doing the same. The park was very clean and tidy, brightly painted and with cute details, especially on Mickey Avenue (above). The park had five or six areas, with the main ones being Tomorrowland, Adventure Isle, Fantasyland, and Treasure Cove. I knew I wanted to see the Marvel area as well as Star Wars, nerd that I was, so I first headed toward Tomorrowland. There was a good view of the Storybook castle from the south side of the Gardens of Imagination, and I took a few photos, saving the castle tour for later. As I was walking toward Tomorrowland, I saw the Marvel corner and ducked there first.
First up was a nice collection of Iron Man suits, from Mark I to Mark VI plus the enormous Hulk Buster suit, and a few of the other Marvel heroes’ suits as well. You could also “meet” Spiderman and Captain America, or performers in their suits (“cast” members, as all Disney employees were called). Spiderman was hamming it up quite delightfully but Captain America, a nice clean cut American looking boy, looked quite uncomfortable, so I passed.
At Tomorrowland I saw the roller coaster ride that went around and under and upside down the donut shaped roof of the complex, took a few photos and left the riders to scream in terror and delight. I made my way to the Star Wars section where BB-8, the delightful white and orange ball droid from Star Wars the Force Awakens. There was also Rey’s costume and her sand speeder from the same movie, which were great to see.
You could also meet Kylo Ren, who was funny: while there was no one taking their photos with him, the cast member was staying in character and pacing around menacingly. Han Solo was also there, poor dear, frozen in carbonite. They showed a 12 minute “movie” of a hero’s journey, focusing on Luke’s evolution through clips of the seven movies.
After lunch (a Mickey Mouse shaped vegetarian pizza, the only veg option I could find!) the next visit was to the castle itself, which was really rather spectacular. The circular foyer at ground level was decorated with four mosaics representing Frozen, Frog Prince, Brave and Tangled. As you walked up the stair case circling the castle inside the outer wall, you were presented with two carved “windows” from different fairy tales at each landing. There were light/hologram shows at several spots, giving a brief look into Snow White story, which were quite fun and well done. At the top was a courtyard open to the sky. Afterwards, I caught a live pageant on a platform outside the castle, with people in costumes as different story characters performing songs from the movies. It ended with everyone on stage and it was actually quite affecting that two of the more popular ones were Merida from Brave, all by her glorious self, and Anna with Elsa, the two sisters. Happy ends do not necessarily need princes.
It had been a fun day, but the best was ahead. I hadn’t planned on going on the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, but it turned out to be fricking amazing! Seriously fantastic. I don’t even know how they did it all. So it started out with a queue of about 20 minutes, which wasn’t at all bad, and which snaked through a pirate-y setting inside a building (right), and boarding about a 30-people seater flat boat. The beginning of it was what I expected, which was life size moquettes and mechanical puppets representing the movies.
But then! A skeleton morphed into Jack Sparrow that gave a little speech (I didn’t know Jack spoke Chinese!), our boat turned 180 degrees around and backed away only to fall down underwater, like in that one movie where they go through a whirlpool and to the bottom, and there we were in the middle of a pirate war, under water, with sharks and a monstrous size kraken swimming around us, only to rise rise rise until we breached the surface again between several other ships coming up as well in a middle of a battle. It was amazing and I can’t even describe it well enough to do it justice. It was so great in fact that when the ride ended, I went straight back into the line to go again! I had taken photos on my first run but as no flash was allowed (which was a good thing), they didn’t turn out well at all, and on my second run I wanted to just enjoy the ride.
After that I was spent, and only wanted food and to get back to town. I headed to Disneytown, a separate area outside the resort which was free to enter, and which was dedicated to food and shopping, with no rides. The restaurants were varied but all had appallingly few, if any, vegetarian options and little to my liking. I finally had a terrific veg pasta at the Cheesecake Factory, of all places! After that I made my way back to the metro station, humming “When you wish upon a star”, and returned to town, happy to have finally made it Disneyworld/land/resort at last!