Shanghai Disneyland Through the Eyes of a Child. (11 tips from an 11-year-old)

I am so excited to have a guest contributor on this post! Jack wholeheartedly offered his assistance when I told him we needed to do some research on Shanghai Disneyland. Yes, this job does have some pretty sweet perks.

Recently we visited the park and put our noses to the grindstone doing some hard-hitting investigatory work. I told him, this wasn’t going to be a visit for pleasure. No way. This was a business trip. We had to do real research. Like, which rides to run to first, which stands sell the best cotton candy, what is the fastest route to Roaring Rapids. You know, hardcore research. 😉

Hard at work.


I hope this guide will help you plan your trip to Shanghai Disney. If you need Jack and me to go back for more research, all you have to do is ask. We would be happy to help!

1. Prepare for your visit.

Make sure you begin hydrating yourself a few days before you go. Maybe carbo-load the night before. You know, like you are going to run a marathon. You need to be in tip-top shape in order to get the most out of your day at the park.

Jack’s pre-Disney energy-boosting meal.


2. Download the Shanghai Disneyland app.

This is a must for checking park hours, pre-buying park tickets, and getting real-time waits for rides. After all, you don’t want to miss a no-wait opportunity for Pirates of the Caribbean if you are stuck in a 2-hour line for Peter Pan. Don’t mess around. According to Jack, a visit to Disney needs to be meticulously planned so you don’t miss out on anything.

3. Bring the right supplies.

In Jack’s terms, this means: let your mom pack everything you may even remotely need during your visit. Sunscreen, snacks, a portable phone charger, face masks (if the air quality is bad…yes, this does happen), tennis shoes, and of course, Mickey or Minnie Ears. I mean really, can you honestly do Disney justice without them?IMG_4832


I hope I have made my point clear with the aggressive use of the all-caps-lock. Trust me, the only thing worse than waiting in a line for 2 hours is waiting in line with Chinese people for 2 hours. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Chinese people, but they consistently push and cut the line like it’s no big deal. That gets old really fast. By the end of your first ride, you will be ready to leave the park (and possibly China altogether).

We stupidly went during Chinese New Year. This was the 45-minute backpack check line before even entering the park.


5. Plan your park route.

Once inside the park, choose which rides you must do and head to them first. Jack’s advice is to wait to get FastPasses until their second distribution in the afternoon. Don’t run right to a FastPass line with all the other suckers. Instead, go straight to the ride and get on before they even get their passes. Just remember it’s not nice to laugh at them as you zoom past on the ride they will get onto 3 hours from now.IMG_4851

6. Plan your dining accordingly.

Jack’s top tip: Don’t wait until dinner to go to the corndog stand by Tomorrowland. It closes early. Trust me on this one. It happened to us once, and as you can tell, Jack is still traumatized. Also, make sure you eat lots of treats to keep your energy up. Jack’s recommendations are Buried Treasure Bars, cotton candy, and (of course) corndogs. You know, all the essential food groups of sugar, food coloring, and artificial flavors that all contribute to the magic of Disney.

Keeping himself energized.


7. Be prepared for the shows.

What we mean is, they are all in Mandarin. We were excited to see the Jack Sparrow show, but were disappointed when literally the only words we could understand were “Jack Sparrow.” It took away a bit of the excitement when we had no clue what was going on. Also, most of the rides are in Mandarin as well. So be ready to hear, “Yo ho, Yo ho a pirate’s life for me” sung a bit differently than you are used to.

8. Top 5 rides.

According to Jack, all the rides at Shanghai Disneyland are pretty great, but here are his top 5 in order of importance:

1. Tron. After all, it is really the only true roller coaster in the park.

2. The 7 Dwarfs Mine Train Ride. Some may argue that this is also a roller coaster. We agreed to give it “baby roller coaster” status which for Jack’s dad, Brett, was all the thrill ride he needed. I won’t say he screamed like a little girl when he rode it but…

3. Alice in Wonderland Maze. Not so much a ride as an attraction but a fun way to get lost in the park.IMG_0153

4. Pirates of the Caribbean. Although it is all in Mandarin, it has been updated and offers some pretty impressive graphics.

5. Roaring Rapids. Honestly, what kid doesn’t love a ride that has the potential of getting you soaked? And on that note, why am I always the one that gets the wettest?

9. Don’t expect everyone who is dressed-up to be a cast member.

For some reason, many of the local girls use Shanghai Disneyland as an excuse to dress like a little girl or an Anime character. We have no idea why but they do add quite a lot to the people-watching aspect of your visit. I asked Jack if perhaps I should dress up the next time we go. He told me to stick my Minnie Mouse ears. Sigh.IMG_4860

10. Be the fun person in the park.

The first time we visited Shanghai Disneyland, we had the privilege to go with (almost) the entire family. It was then that I realized my son-in-law possesses a very impressive skill. He is an amusement park pro and is going to be the fun dad when he takes his own kids to Disneyland. He made-up games while we waited in line. 20 questions, Would you Rather, you know, games to make you feel like you haven’t been standing in the same spot for 30 minutes. We were all entertained and the games made waiting just a little more bearable. Future dad points for you Jackson!IMG_0604

11. Use the single-rider line option.

This is the most important “Jack tip” of all. Chances are you will probably be close to your companion on the ride anyway so cut your wait time by two-thirds or more by choosing this line.

A few more tips

(I am a mom after all and would feel remiss without throwing in a few extras)

  • Bring your passport. You will need it to buy tickets
  • If you will be visiting the park 3+ times, get a season pass. You will be spending about the same amount of money and will be able to get discounts at many restaurants and shops.
  • While most places accept credit card (except American Express), some food stands only accept cash so, bring some RMB just in case.
  • If food in the park doesn’t float your boat, you can leave and eat in Downtown Disney. We highly recommend The Cheesecake Factory. Reentry into the park is free.
  • If you buy your tickets ahead of time, you can enter the park through Downtown Disney. There is an entrance near Wolfgang Pucks. We call it the secret entrance. Little known fact. You’re welcome.IMG_4866

So there you have it, all the most essential Shanghai Disneyland tips according to an 11-year-old (and his super cool mom). We love visiting the park and hope you will too. Now put on those Mickey Mouse ears and get to it!


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