Over the last two weeks I had the opportunity to experience my first entirely new Disney theme parks in over a decade... This time for my honeymoon! Over ten years ago I visited Japan for a short term study abroad trip with my high school (one of several). During that trip I was able to experience Tokyo DisneySea (albeit briefly), a theme park that amazed me with its unique offerings and unbroken visual design dripping with detail in every direction. I've long since dreamed of returning to this place (and to Tokyo) and I have always hoped to do so with my eventual wife. Luckily enough about a year and a half ago as we were planning our wedding, she told me that she had an idea for our honeymoon--a trip that would span the Disney Parks of the world. And while we didn't end up planning as broad of a trip this time around, we were able to finagle a two week trip that encompassed 2.5 days at the Shanghai Disney Resort, 4 days at the Tokyo Disney Resort and four additional days to explore various parts of Tokyo. During these two weeks the two of us took roughly 7000 photos that, after lots of time spent whittling down, we've found some worth sharing.
This trip report will be broken down by the specific resorts (and our time in Tokyo) and will have multiple installments given the volume of photos. If you've read any of my previous photo trip reports, especially those taken in the Disney parks, my focus is often on the little details found where the normal guests don't look.
Diving right in was our start at Shanghai Disneyland and the Shanghai Disney Resort. We opted to stay at the Toy Story Hotel due to the lesser cost and the fact that we didn't plan to be in the hotel much since we wanted to get everything in the park done. The hotel was honestly really nice! The rooms were smaller than the Western standard, but given that it had a comfortable bed, a sizable shower/tub and a safe, that wasn't a concern for us. The theming inside was cute and the amount of theming was equivalent to that of which you'd find in the Art of Animation Resort at Walt Disney World. The hotel's onsite dining options were all better than expected and the guest service we experienced throughout was definitely a highlight of our time in Shanghai.
Moving on to Shanghai Disneyland, it is important to note that this is the first Disney theme park built in over a decade (the last Disney park to open was Walt Disney Studios Park Paris). This park was designed to be "authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese" and it definitely feels like a departure from the previous standards of a castle park. The America-inspired/infused Main Street USA has been swapped for a character-infused Mickey Avenue at the entrance of the park. Adventureland has been replaced with Adventure Isle and Treasure Cove, two unique lands with some of the most unique experiences Disney has ever developed. Fantasyland hosts modern takes on classic attractions with new ride systems and repurposed ones used for new themes. Tomorrowland breaks the mold with a non-traditional coaster experience (one that this particular fan has been drooling over since it was first announced), the best shooting dark ride Disney has ever developed, an abstract approach to the Astro Orbiter and an area design that takes cues from the underrated film of the same name to create a multi-level visual experience unlike anything Disney has done before. The traditional castle has been beefed up, filled with some of the best castle offerings from other parks around the world and plussed with the addition of a unique boat ride that weaves through Fantasyland and underneath the castle.
The bottom line is, this park is modern Disney. It is designed to distinguish itself which it does--and then some. A week and a half after I left, I'm still processing all that I saw and experienced.
From an experience standpoint, I'm not going to dive deep into some of the less positive things that the park has gotten some publicity form. Some of the things reported have been true. Some of the things reported we didn't experience during our visit. Different cultures handle foreign products and processes differently and while there has been some incompatibility reported, I truly believe that given time, the experience will level out. As a Disney fan, I don't regret visiting the park and I would still recommend it to others like me.
We started our first morning at the Toy Story Hotel with some unique breakfast options... A Sausage Roll, a Mickey Blueberry Muffin, Pineapple Bread and Blueberry Gatorade (remember, Shanghai Disneyland has an agreement with Pepsi Co. unlike the rest of the parks that are partnered with Coca-Cola.
Our first look at Mickey from inside of the Guest Relations area outside of the park.
The entrance of the park features a new take on the traditional train station, even though the park does not currently have a railroad.
Shanghai Disneyland offers "Premier Access" as a purchasable Fastpass option. Roughly $70 for a set of seven attractions, this is without a doubt the best way to experience the park's major attractions. Given the capacity of the park and the popularity associated, wait times for most attractions exceed 60 minutes (at minimum) with some hitting peaks of 280 minutes.
Enchanted Storybook Castle represents the royalty of Disney lore as opposed to the traditional approach of having the castle belong to one princess alone. Inside you have a castle walkthrough experience (akin to the ones found in California and Tokyo), a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique (like the one at Walt Disney World) and a restaurant. Out front is a stage for daytime shows and a viewing space for the fireworks/laser/water/projection show "Ignite the Dream." A signature boat ride starting in Fantasyland has its finale in a cave beneath the castle as well. Overall this is a massive complex!
The entrance portal for Treasure Cove...
The pre-show space for The Eye of the Storm show at Shanghai Disneyland is way bigger than I expected... And the experience is a clever one.
The conceit of the show is that actors are performing a retelling of a Jack Sparrow story...
There's plenty of comic relief.
This is a very different kind of Disney stage shown than you've seen before...
But for that reason, it actually works quite well!
The transformation of the stage is a really neat moment.
There's something special about seeing Jack Sparrow floating in the middle of a twister!
Few have encountered an F5 and lived to tell the tale...
Fastpass is a must in this park!
Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue is easily the best version of the classic attraction. Physical sets with embedded digital targets!
The snack game at Shanghai Disneyland was on point! Potato Gems with Pork Floss and Jumbo Spring Rolls in Tomorrowland for the win!
The guests chosen to be Grand Marshalls of the Storybook Express parade drive along the parade route in a very nice looking Chevrolet!
A neat way to see the characters start the parade!
The lead float of Mickey's Storybook Express parade features Casey Jr., Dumbo, one of the birds from Pixar's "For the Birds" & Donald Duck.
The Seven Dwarfs...
The Toy Story float is quite nice!
Lots of neat details to be found on the Tangled float!
Flynn Rider and Rapunzel!
A nod to Tom Staggs?
These characters serve as the lead in for the Finding Nemo float.
The Frozen float is wonderful!
There's a full size Marshmallow!
The Mulan float garnered the strongest reaction from the crowd...
And I'm in love with those embedded flamethrowers!
The final float of the parade appears to be used for a rotational character spotlight (in the front), currently showing off Judy and Nick.
Neat to see the Zootopia characters in the parade!
Very different views to take in while riding this version of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coaster...
Dive! Dive! Dive!
Slightly different than the one at the Magic Kingdom in Florida...
Dopey makes a surprise last appearance at the end of the ride...
I'm just going to leave this here...
We tried the Roasted Duck Pizza and the Grilled Eel with Rice during our visit to the Pinocchio Village Kitchen.
The eel was my favorite!
Tarzan: Call of the Jungle features setup similar to a theater-in-the-round minus one side of seating.
The Tarzan: Call of the Jungle show features a more abstract take on the film's story, adding in acrobatics and stunts along the way.
On Mickey Avenue the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf have businesses adjacent to each other...
Neat to see something I saw as a maquette at the last D23 Expo brought to life in person.
Any Lambert fans out there?
Some notable beards and mustaches...
The entrance to Club 33 from Mickey Avenue in Shanghai Disneyland...
The interior door to Club 33 as seen from Mickey Avenue.
I'm in love with this area design!
Star Wars Launch Bay is tucked in the back of Tomorrowland behind Tron...
It's like I'm in the Millennium Falcon!
The Magic Passport is one of the neatest souvenirs I've seen in these parks. You enter your booklet into the machine only to have it automagically "stamped" with an image that matches the page... And half of the fun is finding the machines throughout the park. This would definitely be fun to see in the US parks!
Poe's X-Wing is parked inside!
The queue for Stitch Encounter features some neat artwork of Stitch's experiences while in Asia...
It was my first time seeing Stitch Encounter, and while the experience was in Mandarin, I was able to get the gist of it!
At the end of the experience you help lead Stitch through a maze of corridors to escape Captain Gantu!
The Tron Realm Chevrolet Digital Challenge space is absolutely gorgeous.
I experienced sensory overload in here!
Test Track fans may recognize this one...
There was even a photo op car for guests to sit in on the Grid!
Tron Realm included a ton of interactive games and exhibits--I just wish I had more time to experience all of them!
I could get used to this...
And by 2021, it appears I'll be able to now that it will be at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World!
Marvel Universe is set up as an indoor pavilion, much like Star Wars Launch Bay.
I jumped at the chance to meet Marvel characters in the park--something that I had yet to do in Florida!
The Hall of Armor in Marvel Universe.
The Enchanted Storybook Castle looks great from any angle!
The evening lighting was gorgeous!
Ready for some fireworks!
Time to Ignite the Dream!
Tron looks glorious at night!
Yep, I'll enjoy having this close to home.
Some notable horses' shoes on the wall in the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean...
The Dead Man's Chest in the queue for Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.
Guests queueing for Pirates can see riders float by...
A full map of Treasure Cove can be hidden along the edge of Fort Snobbish!
This is a theme park! Incredible!
The neat mural in the queue for Voyage to the Crystal Grotto helps to tell the story of the attraction...
The modern-day evolution of the Storybookland Canal Boats at Disneyland, riders sail past moving displays inspired by classic Disney animated films. The dioramas sport unique water elements that sync with the music to create a "show scene" at each stop.
The beginning of the scene leads into...
The reveal of the Genie in the Aladdin scene, which is pretty neat!
I believe this was meant to be the "it's a small world" inspired scene.
The Sorcerer's Apprentice!
Mulan drew several cheers from our boat!
The Little Mermaid!
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
First off, congratulations on your recent wedding! A honeymoon to Shanghai and Tokyo sounds incredible. I can't wait to read along and experience all the adventures from the big trip. Off to a great start!
At the end of the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto guests may spot a few familiar vessels...
Up to no good...
A look at the Enchanted Storybook Castle from the exit of Voyage to the Crystal Grotto...
Looking down on the Alice in Wonderland Maze from inside of Fantasyland.
This is in a theme park!
The entrance to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure...
And the ride's poster art.
I love this sign!
When I see this I can't help but Robb talking about glutinous rice in Coaster Expeditions Vol. 7.
Despite being a land inspired by Pirates of the Caribbean, there are other hidden references to be found throughout Treasure Cove...
Mickey loves Minnie.
A reference to the Silly Symphonies short, The Skeleton Dance.
Tia Dalma's home in Treasure Cove...
But Tia Dalma is nowhere to be found.
But you can look into her home to spot some familiar imagery.
Fort Snobbish is the setting for Treasure Cove in Shanghai Disneyland...
The signage found throughout Treasure Cove is absolutely top notch!
If I must...
Barbossa's Bounty is the land's main eatery... Unlike the Blue Bayou in Anaheim and Tokyo and Captain Jack's Restaurant in Paris, Barbossa's Bounty is a quick service venue with a view of the ride path for Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure.
I had a whole cooked squid... From a quick service restaurant... In a theme park. So freaking awesome (and delicious)!
Premier Access was a lifesaver on this trip!
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is a carbon copy of the Walt Disney World version of the ride--you can even see in the queue how the ride's building has the traditional flat front of the Florida Fantasyland.
A very familiar sight for these Floridian eyes...
Instead of the Mad Tea Party, Shanghai Disneyland has Hunny Pot Spin.
For the love of Larry...
A look at the Tangled Tree Tavern.
This theater in Fantasyland hosts "For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along like the one found at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The show is extremely popular making the lines a little too long than we had the time to spare.
See what I mean?
And we're... Moving on.
(No, we didn't buy any ponchos from her.)
The entrance of Voyage to the Crystal Grotto...
And the marquee.
I could stare at this ceiling all day.
The Princess and the Frog...
The entrance to Adventure Isle...
Shanghai Disney Resort bamboo sippers!
I love this view from within Adventure Isle!
I have a keychain featuring this little guy!
Q'araq's presence is felt throughout Adventure Isle.
Roaring Rapids was quite the popular attraction during our visit...
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
Soaring over the Horizon garners the longest wait time of any attraction in the park (Tron Lightcycle Power Run is the most popular attraction in the park).
Soaring, not Soarin'.
Since we used our Premier Access passes to get on to Soaring Over the Horizon we had a limited view of the gorgeous milky way effect in the queue.
Instead of your Chief Flight Attendant Patrick, we have this condor-lady/shaman who acts as your guide.
The preshow is a beat-for-beat recreation of the classic Soarin' preshow video but with characters and costumes that match this ride's unique storyline. This scene is Shanghai's version of the "and of course, these little beauties" line.
"Nice work pal!"
Also unique is the milky way-style screensaver that displays during the ride load and unload process. The film itself is a copy of the one found in Anaheim and Orlando, with the exception of the finale scene taking place over metropolitan Shanghai at night instead of Disneyland or Epcot.
Camp Discovery is full of hidden details to be found!
Subtly tied to the Society of Adventurers and Explorers, also tied to the Adventurers Club.
A look at all there is to see in Camp Discovery.
The Camp Discovery Challenge Trail is one of the most unique attractions to ever be built in a Disney Park, and one that I doubt will ever make its way stateside, in any form.
The ropes trail has guests climbing around interior waterfall ledges inside of the mountain of Adventure Isle.
Around the mountain various paths provide clues as to the Isle's previous inhabitants.
And a tie-in to Soaring Over the Horizon.
I give credit for someone pulling off the following name jokes...
Like this one.
And this one.
There's a Horizons reference!
And the Yeti from Expedition Everest!
This officially ties Expedition Everest to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers!
Could it be?
Indiana Jones and the Temple of the Crystal Skull (as found at Tokyo DisneySea) is now also tied to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers!
These challenge trails are awesome!
The Fantasia Carousel in the Gardens of Imagination is uniquely beautiful but unfortunately we ran out of time to ride it ourselves.
So many neat references!
You had me at patisserie.
It was neat seeing this in person after seeing miniature maquettes of these at the D23 Expo two years ago...
The deed to Toad Hall is hanging in the window!
A tribute to Walt...
Flower Street is a notable location for the Walt Disney Company, so it was nice to see this nod here in the park.
I love this display!
So many references!
All kinds of awesome.
Enchanted Storybook Castle looks fantastic at night!
Mickey Avenue's main shop, akin to the Main Street Emporium in the other parks.
The detail work on these buildings is incredible!
Scrooge McDuck's bank!
The stained glass!
Time to start heading out for the night...
We visited Shanghai Disneyland only a few days after the official first anniversary of the resort began.
See ya real soon with even more photos from the Shanghai Disney Resort, and beyond that, lots of photos of the Tokyo Disney Resort and Japan!
Change the scheme, Alter the mood! Electrify the boys and girls if you would be so kind!
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