Nín Hăo Mickey
If you know one thing about our family you know that we like to go to Disneyland. I am not saying that we only went to Shanghai so that we could go to Shanghai Disneyland, but if not for Mickey Mouse I probably would have spent my three days in China in Beijing, shivering as we explored the Great Wall in the off season.
We started out very early from our hotel wanting to get to the park before it opened. We only had one day to explore this new Disneyland and we meant to try everything that we could. The van we hired made good time even with the low visibility of early morning smog. The smog surrounding the city was thicker than again than the day before. The clerk at the hotel called it fog, but I wasn’t convinced. The smog was so thick that the sun was a round yellow disc that almost looked like the moon. I had to remind myself not to stare because looking at it didn’t actually hurt my eyes.
The smog didn’t bother our driver and within less than an hour we arrived at our second residence for this vacation, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. It was as lavish and magical as you would expect. The lobby was a great open space with large banners for the new year and a grand piano in the corner with someone playing Disney tunes. While Kira checked in the kids and I checked out the breakfast options at the Ballet Cafe. The theme of the cafe was the characters from the Hippo Ballet in Fantasia and they had Mickey shaped donuts. A great start to our day.
When there isn’t a haze of fogsmog you can see the park from the hotel and there is a bat the will whisk you across the man made lake to the Happiest Place in China. Today we had to take their word for it and the boat was not running because of the weather. We hopped on a bus and still reached Disneyland just as it was opening. We are Disney park veterans and we had already been talking about our game plan for days by the time we got there. We had heard good things about the Pirates ride here and there was a Soarin’ ride that was around the world, not just Soarin’ over California. The plan was to go get fast passes for Soarin’ and then wait in line for Pirates of the Caribbean before heading over to Tomorrowland. As we passed the Pirates ride on our way to get our fast passes we noticed that the line was only 5 minutes. Sweet! We rushed back and the time hadn’t gone up. Some of our party ran back to the bathrooms and when they got back the sign still said a five minute wait. The line for Pirates of the Caribbean in Shanghai Disneyland might be one of the most interesting ones in the all the parks, but we will never know because we rushed all the way to the end and practically walked on the ride. I think it did take ten minutes to get into a boat because it took five just to walk through the empty corals and switchbacks and then another five to wait for the people in front of us to board. For some reason the ride operators were running three or four empty boats for each one that they filled with people. If you have visited Disneyland/World in the US then I realize that walking onto Pirates may not sound that impressive, but the Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure is not your father’s Disney ride. The ride uses some amazing screen technology combined with some short drops and a boat that spins slowly around to keep you pointed at the action even when it is behind you. It was awesome. I am going to predict that sometime in the near future one of the parks in the US will overhaul their Pirates ride to match this one. When we got off, the line wait still showed five minutes and we were tempted to ride again, but we didn’t want to risk missing something in our one day at the park.
As we made our way over to Tomorrowland we began to see how empty the park was. We passed a popcorn cart with no line – something we have never seen at Tokyo Disneyland. We ate some popcorn. We didn’t quite make it to Tomorrowland before getting distracted by the Alice in Wonderland Maze. Not a ride, but an attraction that we do not have in the US. It was fun and whimsical just as you would expect. When you enter you are faced with the choice of three doors, but everyone was being ushered through the left door. On a more crowded day the Maze might not have been as enjoyable, but we spent a good half hour looking around and taking pictures before leaving.
We passed up other short lines and kept to our target of the Tron ride next only to discover that it was temporarily shut down. Disappointing, but it looked like it might open again later. We decided to ride the Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue, which is the same set up as the Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters in Disneyland, CA. The wait was only five minutes and we actually did just walk though the line and onto the ride for this one. Also the Shanghai Buzz ride is superior to the one in CA, FL, or even Tokyo. We all commented on how new the “space ships” looked and they seem to have that new ride smell. I am guessing that most people know how this ride works, but for Janet I will explain. You ride through a series of rooms using fake handheld blasters to shoot beams of light at targets on the wall. You score points for the targets based on size and/or color. Guess what? The targeting and shooting worked better on the Shanghai ride and it was much easier to see which target you hit. I scored a million points both times we rode it that day.
We do eventually get on the Tron ride, but I think I’m going to end this here for now. I’m trying to keep these posts short enough to read in one sitting and I’d rather keep things moving by posting part of the day. I am a little embarrassed that my writing on Disneyland is probably going to end up being as many words or more than the rest of my posts so far, but it does help tell the story of how we were feeling that day. Disneyland is a place we all know and it was fun to be in a different country and some place familiar at the same time. The entire family was geeking out about everything that was different with this Disneyland almost as much as we were gushing about how short the line were.