Naturally, the first Touristy Spot myself and my boyfriend ventured to upon meeting one another in Shanghai was its brand new Disneyland – a baby of just about a year old (coincidentally around the same amount of time James and I have been together 😉 ). James hadn’t been to Disneyland in years, and even then it had been a very rushed experience, so I was extremely revved up to give this Flynn (or Aladdin… we still haven’t decided on his Disney Counterpart) the Best Day Ever. And with all these insane rides – from Tron Lightcycle to Roaring Rapids to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train to a more movie-oriented Pirates of the Caribbean experience, how could he not have fun?
Howeverrrrrr, Kate did not anticipate the crowds. I suppose it was in June and kids were off school and so on… but 4 hour long queues for all of the popular rides? And the entire park running out of Fast Passes by 11am? On a Thursday?? Boy was I disappointed.
Thankfully, in the face of what Kate thought to be a let-down for him, James was overwhelmed by everything else the park had to offer. Though I did convince him to queue for Tron Lightcycle, since it was so unique and acclaimed widely across the Disney Interwebs, we ended up spending our day pursuing thrills of a non-rollercoastered variety. This post will recount the ways that YOU can do that. Of course, this being the sort of blog that it is, there will need to be some sort of Disneyfied story behind the whole thing, and I be sure to introduce the list with that (although the context is probably already apparent by the title 😉 )
I hope you enjoy!
Now James and Kate were (and continue to be- for they are indeed still happygoluckily living their lives this very day) Big Believers of a Storybook Life; that if you have a few dreams they’ll crop up during the plot of your existence, no matter how unconventional they may seem. In regards to the 15th of July 2017 specifically, they were determined that they would have the Most Magical of days together in Shanghai Disneyland. They squeezed through the front gates clutching their maps with equally eager eagerness and scanned over it, analysing what each land had to offer.
Kate was sure the day’s magic would be squeezed from the conquering of each ShineyNewRide in the vicinity. However, sometimes life (or in this case the maze Imagineers) has a different way of giving you lemons for your lemonade…
Ok, yes. Perhaps they should have known better than to drink things on offer in an Alice in Wonderland themed maze, but in their defense: it was hot, it was crowded, and the label was in Chinese. Behold the result of their glug from the Hatter’s table:
Now it goes without saying that their short-term shortness (short-term due to the good oul After Midnight rule – thank god the parks act as a melting pot of all the laws found in each Disney movie!) impinged on their rollercoastering. However, the Most was Made of the day, resulting in a Magic that met and surpassed their wish for their first day out together in months.
Here’s what they got up to:
1. Non-Ride Rides
By this I mean they went around to each land seeking out some fun which they did not need to queue/ be a normal human size for. Their favourites were the Alice in Wonderland maze itself (different from any other maze in the world so far due to it being styled after Tim Burton’s version) and then the constant water fight by the Siren’s Revenge ship in Treasure Cove. The former was especially exciting as it showed the younger audience that this newest Disney Park is catering to. Disney continues to evolve (but not to worry, the Park has plenty of nods to the Classics too!)
2. The Storybook Castle
To these little ‘uns, the largest Disney castle in park history looked even huger. Both vowed to save up enough yen (and height) to dine there some time in the future, but until then they distracted themselves from the jealousy by examining the many elaborate mosaics that decorated the castle’s interior.
3. Picking up on the Finer Details
Disney Imagineers deserve to have their work noticed, and James and Kate were grateful to be forced to do so on that fateful day. Among the many easter eggs scattering this particular park were glowing Cheshire Cat paw-prints plodding along cave walls before disappearing without a trace, Maximus hoof prints marking the cement around the Tangled Tree Tavern (to be discussed – see point 4!) and the window fronts of shops along Mickey Avenue, including Scrooge’s Bank (Humperdink Duck version) and the Disney interpretations of famous works of art in Art Clarabella.
They also paid attention to the creativity of cast members, most notably a fellow cleaning the floors who drew a watery Mickey Mouse face upon the ground outside the Storybook Castle.
4. Absorption of the Chinese culture
The other details the pair noticed deserve their own heading: the aspects of Chinese culture that vein through Shanghai Disneyland. Kate had told James before leaving that this particular park aimed to intertwine American Disney culture with the culture of its actual location, and they were glad to spot some of these nods.
The first one they saw took them awhile to link with Chinese culture, for at first they thought Disney was just using mosaics in the Gardens of Imagination to promote characters who did not receive as much (well-deserved) attention; Mushu or Hamm or Kaa for example. However, this Garden of the Twelve Friends is actually supposed to represent the animals in the Chinese Zodiac! SO clever!!
Another interesting cultural difference is the fact that this park allows you to do Tai Chi with a Disney character! James was interested, but Kate held him back, knowing Donald Duck would have an unfair (sizemic) advantage on this particular day. There is also lots of emphasis placed on the wonderful Mulan, China’s own princess. Kate had shown James the movie for the first time the day before, so the couple were very excited by her appearance on a magnificent float in the parade and her section of the Night Spectacular Show.
(the pair have one more cultural immersion suggestion, but that shall be discussed in point 6!)
People of all cultures (and sizes) can spend the day indulging in the variety of food on offer in Shanghai Disneyland, with both Chinese and international options. Unfortunately, their wee tummies didn’t have much room for more than one meal, so Kate’s obsession with Disney’s 50th feature film of course brought them to Tangled Tree Tavern for said feeding. Very quick service, despite the aforementioned queues, and even if they did have to wait longer James would not have minded using the time to perfect his Flynn Rider impression (which is already pretty good, in Kate’s opinion).
The pair’s sweet tooth got the better of them during the day of course, despite their tiny tummies’ protestations of fullness. They shared the chocolatiest ice cream they could find in Il Paperino, and later tore a side each from a Mickey-Mouse shaped treat in Remy’s Patisserie.
6. Front Row Spaces for the Shows
No saving seats an hour before for wee James and Kate- no no! They were in nobody’s way as they wriggled to the front for both the Lion King performance (at an extra cost to park entrance) and the Night Spectacular show.
These shows would be the cultural immersion mentioned previously. Yes the shows are in Mandarin- but we all know the stories! And you get that same magic feeling no matter what the language. Go forth and embrace Chinese Disney!