Muschamp Rd

Shanghai Disneyland Initial Visit

April 17th, 2017
Me and R2D2

Ever since I moved to Shanghai I’ve been anticipating playing tour guide at this place, it’s been open a while, but despite numerous threats, no one has visited me, who I had to take here. Then I was randomly selected to go with folks from work. It was far from well organized, but I stood in line for hours and took a few pictures. I’ll probably be back…

I think the target market for Shanghai Disneyland is younger and more female than I. The weather was actually hot, but the sky was not that blue, so it is best to put as much foreground in your pictures as possible, this despite Disney building their biggest and most elaborate castle ever. I never went in the castle, I spent a lot of time waiting for coworkers or waiting in line for the two supposedly best rides: Tron and Pirates of the Caribbean.

A lot has changed since I visited Disneyland as a kid, there is no Main Street USA for instance in Shanghai. I never saw any characters walking around, now you have to go and line up to have your photo taken. The entire park seems designed for selfies and souvenirs, rides are secondary, the food has a bad reputation. You can exit the park to visit Disneytown which has many restaurants where you can get a proper BEvERage and better food. You can also relax away from the biggest crowds in Disneytown. I think Disneytown is the result of the deal Disney had to strike with the local government to build the theme park.

Met Kylo Ren in Shanghai, missed his grandfather

You can get to Shanghai Disneyland by metro, but once you exit Disney Resort Station you have to walk a ways to the gate then wait in line to go through security. Originally you could bring in food if it is in the original packaging, so many many Chinese people will have to get many many bags checked. This is another compromise and as a result the Familymart in Disney Resort Station may be the most profitable in the world as people stock up on snacks before queuing. Once through security then you can line up again if you already have a ticket, you must bring your passport. Inside Disneyland you should probably go immediately to the ride you want to try the most, which seems to be Tron, the first time I rode it the official wait was 5 minutes, I never saw a line that short again.

Besides Tron the only other ride I did was Pirates of Caribbean which is also very high tech, Disney spent a lot of money on the rides and almost every one ends in a themed gift shop. There is also a Star Wars and a Marvel themed gift shop but no big Star Wars or Marvel ride. There is also a big Disney store and an action figure store in Disneytown and of course the largest Disney store in the world is in Lujiazui, however before you buy the biggest souvenir you can find, you can’t take any bags on Tron, in fact you have to check your bags and take off your glasses to go on this ride, plus be 122 cm tall, other rides such as Pirates are more luggage friendly, yes Chinese people bring rolling luggage to Disneyland.

I recommend buying souvenirs last, I did not stay for the night time extravaganza, I had to work the next morning. There are two Disney hotels so you can stay next to the park. You can also get a premier tour even fast passes to skip some of the ride lines. Here is another account of visiting Shanghai Disneyland, I might be tempted to pay for VIP service or a hotel if you are pressed for time and Disneyland is a ‘must do’ while in Shanghai. If I had to do it all over again and I probably will, I’d probably go to the ride I most wanted to try, then go clockwise or counter clockwise around the lands, instead of zig zagging through the middle. There are lots of opportunities to meet characters and the iPhone app works pretty well, thus the temptation to zig zag to whatever line seems the shortest, but the lines only seem to get longer as the day goes on so you’ll need a battery pack or a charger as you’ll spend a lot of time inline WeChatting on your phone. Next time I’ll bring a small backpack with some bottled water and snacks, even if I go on Tron I’ll have to check it, I also will probably try to see Darth Vader, we only got to see Kylo Ren, he didn’t even have a line, Star Wars is not as popular as Marvel in China.

This is probably my last post before I retake my exam, as it is, I think over two weeks have past since I visited Disneyland. I made sure to make a Facebook checkin and post to Instagram before my battery died, for the Klout. Remember you need a VPN to do either and no Disneyland does not have WiFi so you need a SIM card and if you plan to use the official app a lot you’ll need some GigaBytes too. Below are a couple pictures I took and posted to social media, next time I’ll take my other camera and charger for my iPhone and likely tough it out until closing time as the night time may photograph better especially on a pollution heavy day in Shanghai.

Update: here are some more thoughts on why Shanghai Disneyland is designed differently and the lessons you can take from Disney’s decisions and apply to your own business targeting Chinese consumers.

Torn Light Cycle

Millenium Falcon Cockpit

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