Sunday, June 17, 2018

Day 3 - Shanghai Disneyland! The Happiest Place in China

Day 0 - Depart Singapore to Hangzhou (Scoot Airlines), Arr. Hangzhou 2135hrs
Day 1 - Hangzhou, got a driver, tour the city, including West Lake and Ling Yin Temple
Day 2 - Depart from Hangzhou to Wu Zhen (water town), and then transfer to Shanghai Courtyard Marriot near Disneyland
Day 3 - Shanghai Disneyland! (One full day)
Day 4 - Transfer to Shanghai Marriott City Center
Day 5 - Private day tour to SuZhou
Day 6 - Shanghai Free & Easy
Day 7 - Home sweet Home - Shanghai to Singapore on Singapore Airlines (Business Class)

Day 3 - Today is Shanghai Disneyland! 
We woke up late.  Ha.  All very tried.  But, that's fine.  We were on holiday, and the whole idea was not meant to rush.  Once up, we made our way to DisneyTown for breakfast.  Our room rate didn't come with breakfast, so we figured it would be more cost effective to head straight to DisneyTown and have breakfast there, before entering the park. BreadTalk and ToastBox opened at 0800hrs.



ENTERING THE PARK
By the time we entered the park, it was close to 1000hrs. (Ok, as I said, we woke up late). The video below shows you the barricades, and we entered the park!


Download the DISNEY APP and buy your tickets before you arrive.
In case you missed it in the video above, this is what the ticketing booth looked like at close to 1000hrs a park day. COMPLETELY CLOSED.  It wasn't just a reduced ticketing system, it was closed.  I was taken aback.  It looked like that was NO WAY to buy a ticket from the ticketing counters, and I didn't see any self-service machines either!

Bought Our Tickets Months Before
Just how did we get our tickets?  My dear wife (have read all the reviews) had alerted me some months ago that we needed to get our tickets sorted out.  So I downloaded the app and bought our tickets.  I was also reminded that I will need my phone to be fully powered for the entire day, which meant I needed to bring batteries to charge my phone.  I brought two.

You Need Data
Wait a second, for the app to work, you need WiFi or data connection.  Does Shanghai Disney provide?  Not that I was aware. There was no free WIFI.  So, another cruicial tip - make sure you got a good reliable data connection!  I was using data roaming with my Singapore SIM Card, so no issues on that front for me.  Remember, no data, the app won't work either!

See this short video clip below of how the app looks like.  When you buy tickets, you have to give a document number (in our case it would be our passport).  At the entrance gate, the staff asked to see the original document (so you have to bring your passports along).  Once she verified the document against my electronic ticket (on the App), she proceeded to issue 4 paper tickets.  After that, I had to scan the paper tickets issued  using the app, to group them together so that you can get FastPasses via the App!   We had to keep the paper tickets because that is what they used to scan at the entry and exit gates when we left the park (to DisneyTown to get food) and entered again. Sounds confusing?  Yeah, it was slightly so.


FASTPASS Selection
What about Fastpasses?  Get them through the app too.  Once you are in the park and tickets are linked, you can see which Fast Passes are available.  See the screenshot below.  At 1011AM, the first First Pass I could get was for TRON Lightcycle Power Run, to enter between 2:10PM - 3:10PM.  I could only make another FastPass selection at 12:11PM.



Pirates of the Caribbean
Anyway, once in, we consulted the App for wait times, and decided to head towards Pirates of the Caribbean!  Guests can be any height, and the ride was suitable for all ages.  It was a very impressive ride indeed, with great effects, as you ride a boat around.

A picture of the line.  The queues were orderly and there was palpable excitement in the air.  This was Disneyland, after all.

Even though the app said the wait was 40 minutes, it certainly didn't felt that long.  We probably waited around 20 minutes. I left my iPhone 8 Plus running as I enjoyed the ride. Unfortunately, this phone isn't great in such low light conditions, so the video is very dark.  The ride was beautifully done.  Amazing use of technology. But you get an idea.  This ride is definitely worth it.


Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Roller Coaster of sorts)
From pirates, we head to dwarves - the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland.  It is supposedly a roller-coaster.  Guests must be 97 cm or taller, so we figured it couldn't be too hard on the stomach. The waiting time was long, but we decided to try the Single Rider method.  We had read about it.  See the sign below, which made clear that you will be seated separately from travelling companions/friends.

SINGLE RIDER LINE - Only Waited 20 Minutes
We ended up waiting only 20 minutes for our turn to ride.  Indeed, we rode separately.  I went the last, and for some strange reason, I had a cart to myself.  (It is 2 person per car).  I was in the very last car. Here is the ENTIRE RIDE filmed with my GoPro.  Thank God I didn't drop the camera.


Disney Castle
After that, we were headed to another ride in the direction of Tron.  Here is a video of us walking towards the castle.


Once Upon a Time Adventure
At the base of the castle, we saw this attraction called 'Once Upon a Time Adventure'.  Since the waiting time wasn't that long, we decided to check it out. According to the website, we are to step through the Magic Mirror portal and enter an enchanted dimension of wonder: Snow White’s fairy-tale world.

Asian Cinderella Singing in Mandarin
It ended up being a walk-through of the Cinderella story, completely in mandarin of course.  Didn't take very long.  What struck me was an Asian (Yellow-Skinned, Chinese) Cinderella singing to a well in Mandarin.  That was cool.  What was she singing?  Based on my limited mandarin, she was asking to meet her Prince Charming.


BUZZ LIGHTYEAR! 
Next, we headed to the Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue Arcade Ride. Blast away at Emperor Zurg’s abominable bot army in an all-out battle to save Planet Pepperonia! Go from zero to Space Ranger hero—join Buzz on an interactive galactic adventure to stop Star Command’s most wanted! Ready to wreak cosmic chaos, evil Emperor Zurg has returned to demolish the Space Aliens’ planet with a crystal-powered Superblaster. It’s up to you to infiltrate Zurg’s secret lair, neutralize his army of underlings and eliminate the weapon of “mass alien destruction” before it’s too late! [Source]

Guests can be any height and all ages (I saw babies). According reviews, this was the best Buzzlight Year ride on the planet, and it certainly didn't disappoint!  The waiting time was very short, hardly anybody, as you can see in the video below.



Why was it so empty? It was close to noon, and all the crowds were lined up along the streets of Disney, waiting for the noon parade!

TRON LIGHTCYCLE RIDE
Immediately after Buzz Lightyear, and given our realisation that 99% of the people in the park were happily watching the parade, we decided to try TRON, since it was just next door to Buzz LightYear. Take note, there was only one parade a day at noon.  Yes, we missed the parade.  In life, we have to make choices.

Got this from the Shanghai Disneyland website:

Sync the pedal to moto-metal while twisting, turning and riding for your life in the cyber-fi world of TRON! The Ultimate Competition Experience high-speed thrills and chills as the Grid comes alive in a heart-pounding race for survival. Created as a friendly way for “Programs” and “Users” to interact, the Power Run pits team against team in the quintessential quest to capture 8 Energy Gates and triumph over opponents. Prepare for digitization after entering the portal—this is your access into the energy, lights and excitement of TRON’s high-tech universe. As you leave the real world behind, you’ll proceed to the games as a member of Team Blue, ready to compete against some of the Grid’s most menacing Programs.  Guest must be 122 cm or taller.

I was not a roller coaster type of person, but I read that this ride was very good, and more importantly, we didn't go upside down.  So, we decided to go for it, before lunch!  True enough, the lines were very short, and we were in line no more than 10 minutes.  Beautiful dark/twilight waiting areas inside.  The video below shows some of the waiting, but I didn't take any footage of the actual ride.


BAG DEPOSIT
They had bag deposit machines outside the ride, but we observed many people entering the ride with backpacks, which we did.  Take note, we had to deposit our backpacks in a large bin  just before we got on the ride, and retrieved our bag when the ride was completed again.  I was a bit worried because there was no guarantee that our bagpacks would still be there when we returned, or more likely another park visitor could take our bagpack, even if not deliberately, it could be by mistake.  Thank God all our bags were as we left them.

I found this TRON Coaster Ride-Through, which gives you an awesome view of what the ride looks like.  The ride was rather short, thankfully.  I'm not that amenable to such rides.  Felt a bit woozy after that.


LUNCH TIME! 
So, it was 12 something, we just took TRON, and it was time for some lunch! We decided to head to the restaurants at DisneyTown for a proper lunch.  There was a side entrance/exit into DisneyTown too (we had observed that when we were walking around DisneyTown the night before), so that certainly helped.  It took no more than 10 minutes to walk from the TRON ride to the restaurant at DisneyTown. They had 2 manned security gates (including X-ray machine).  You needed to use your paper tickets to get in and out.

We ended up eating both our lunch and dinner at this Chinese restaurant called Nan Xiao Dian.  At this restaurant, you had to order and pay up before they served you food.  They do have paper menus, but it was quicker to order and pay online!  See the screeshots below of the bill. Very advanced, China.  Our meal cost RMB 202, or 32USD.  Pretty reasonable to fill 4 stomachs.



Here is the video of the food!  I even a Tsingtao Beer, for 18RMB. Good food!  Very tasty.


VOYAGE TO THE CRYSTAL GROTTO
After lunch, and after consulting wait times, we decided to go for the Crystal Grotto Ride. Journey deep into a cavern where favorite Disney tales come alive in a dazzling display of music, light and wonder!  What about the Fastpass for TRON?  We gave that up too, since we already had done TRON.  And there were no more FastPasses available too (based on the app).

This time, the lines were rather long, but orderly.  In total, we probably waited 30-40 minutes for this ride.  It got a bit warm. Pity the parents who had to carry their kids.  It probably felt very claustrophic if you were short. No fun.

It is a typical boat ride.  Suitable for all ages.  Video below shows you the line and the entire boat ride.  The ride itself was about 8 minutes. Enjoy!


TARZAN SHOW
Next, we wanted to catch a show at the Pirates Cove but we were too late, and they had already closed the gates.  So we had to wait a bit to catch the final Tarzan show of the day.  The theatre was very large.  The queue lines were opened 1/2 hour before the show, and already long queues had formed by the time we got to the queue, about 30 minutes before.

TARZAN SHOW
In the video clip below, you will see the final minutes of the show.  We weren't seated that near the stage, but we were in the best block for viewing.  Video is a bit dark, but you will be able to make out the acrobatics etc.


After the Tarzan show, we had wanted to go for another famous ride, but the wait times were just too long.  So we adjourned to the Starbucks instead. Starbucks was located in DisneyTown.  We wanted to get some coffee.  We were all getting a tad tired.  See the video.


The queue length for Soaring over the Horizon never dropped below 120 minutes. So, we decided to give it a miss.  We didn't feel like queueing for 2 hours.  Instead, we went back to the same place we had lunch, to have dinner!  Yes, we liked it so much.  And then, we made our way to watch the fireworks display at around 7:20pm.  We thought we were early, but by the time we made it to the area to watch the fireworks display, it was completely full!

So, we didn't have much of a choice, and had to choose another vantage point which was slightly blocked, and rather far from the castle. Here it is.

Just 5 minutes before 8pm, there was an announcement to say that there would be NO FIREWORKS tonight, due to the air quality. ARGH! What a mega disappointment.  You could almost hear the collective grown.  Anyway, since nobody was going to get any refunds, we decided to stay on to see the light show.  Well, to be fair, the light show was still pretty impressive.  Here is the entire show that I managed to record using my iPhone on a Gimbal.  My hand felt a bit sore after that.


The light show took a good 20 minutes.  It was that long. I'm sure it would have been much, much better with fireworks.  It was soon over, and time to leave!
Hordes of park go-ers would make their way out of the park at the same time, and it was certainly a sight to watch.  See from 3:08 of the video below.

People and more people.  This is China.

We let the crowds go past, as we wanted to get some Breadtalk bread for our breakfast tomorrow.  The sales at Breadtalk after the light show had ended were very good.  There were lines to get bread.  We headed to the taxi stand, expecting to see a long queue, but it turned out that there were very few people at the taxi stand.  I concluded that most park-goers didn't take taxis.  Buses perhaps? Anyway, we took a taxi back to our hotel, costing us around 20RMB.

And that concludes our day in Shanghai Disneyland. Tomorrow, we take a taxi to central Shanghai, where we will be staying at the Marriott Shanghai City Center.  Stay tuned!

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