All 3 Asian Disneys in One Trip, during Peak Season and Peak Heat, with Two Teens and Tons of Fun

Discussion in 'Other Lands' started by DisneyMomKB, Aug 8, 2018.

  1. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    Hi everyone. Long-time lurker, very infrequent poster here. We are just back from a whirlwind trip to Shanghai, Tokyo, and Hong Kong Disney to complete a long-standing family goal of visiting all Disney Theme Parks before our kids graduate from high school. As DVC members, we’ve done Disney World more times than I can count, have been to Disneyland California twice, and visited the Paris parks in the Summer of 2017. So until Tokyo opens their newly planned Disney Sky park, we’ve officially completed our plan! Which was no small feat, given the challenging time changes, language barriers faced, and limited information available to American travelers to venture to these distant lands. As such, I’m writing this Trip Report as a thank you to the posters on this board who helped me plan and execute an adventurous – and exhausting – journey. I hope this helps pay-it-forward to any future planners who are crazy enough to attempt all three parks in one trip, or are chill enough to embark on a sweat-fest to any one of the parks in the heat of July/August!


    First Planning Tip: I’m assuming everyone on the boards knows this already, but just in case: the two best non-DIS sites for information from my perspective are: Tom Bricker’s Disney Tourist Blog site and Chris’s TDR Explorer site. Tons of great info that helped us plan everything from a successful TWOV (Transit Without Visa in China) to draft touring plans to VPN selection for web access from China to power adaptors. And much, much more. So helpful!


    Fair Warning: this is a words-only report. If you’re a picture person, feel free to skip it. I know most people prefer picture reports, but with my limited posting background, I barely feel comfortable uploading my text and haven’t mastered photo skills yet. To make up for the lack of interesting pictures, I’ll try to keep the words entertaining.


    By means of introduction, I’m the ringleader, Karen, a long-time Disney fanatic in Western New York who has reared a family of Disney fans. We love our Disney Vacation Club membership, Disney Cruises, Disney World, and Disney resorts beyond Orlando. We also enjoy making the occasional DVC point trade or sale and branching out to Royal Caribbean Cruises and non-Disney Theme Parks. I’m looking at you: Harry Potter attractions at Universal Studio! Participants on this trip include: myself, my husband Jim, who tolerates my Disney addiction, our 16-year-old DS, and 14-year-old DD (both of whom are runners, which would come in handy a few times over the course of the trip). These kids were physically trained and prepared for the test of endurance in store for us; we adults, a little less so. :-)


    Our family started talking about a Grand Asian Disney Adventure while on the flight home from Disneyland Paris in August 2017. At that time, I said no. There was a little matter of North Korea that was causing concern right smack in the midst of all those Disney parks, so we hemmed and hawed. By Christmas 2017 that no longer felt like an imminent threat to our summer vacation, so we booked our flights. I spent hours and hours running every permutation of possible flight paths to get the best price for this expensive undertaking, knowing we’d be booking an open jaw flight with small low-cost-carrier flights to help us connect between countries once we crossed the ocean. From where we live near Rochester, New York, we could fly out of Toronto, New York City, or Boston as possible airports to drive to. In the end, the cheapest flight for us was to go Toronto to Shanghai, then return from Hong Kong to Toronto via Air Canada. The flights were about $1000 each way - back in economy seats - when we booked on New Year’s Eve for our July trip. We then booked a really cheap flight on Peach Airlines from Shanghai to Tokyo, and to get from Tokyo from Hong Kong we flew on Hong Kong Express. As I watched the price of those Air Canada flights, by the time we were three months out from our trip, the cost per person had tripled – even for our cheap seats. I was glad I had booked flights 7 months in advance.


    From there, I mocked up an agenda for the trip. This was a pretty aggressive schedule devoid of much ‘smell the roses’ time – if any. We certainly didn’t plan to sample every attraction and enjoy every walkway or garden, but I had made a list of “must-do’s” from the aforementioned planning sites and info here on this board. I don’t recommend this approach for all travelers, but we were on a mission to conquer these Disney Parks and slip in one half-day city tour in each location. This travel style works for us, and we don’t mind being exhausted when we get home. :-) Your mileage may vary.


    Three out of four members of our travel party were very fussy, non-adventurous eaters, so one way we thought we could assuage that fear was by booking Club Level rooms. The Club in Disney Paris had amazing food that met our needs, so after reading many Club reviews and the official websites, we thought the same would hold true for the Shanghai and Hong Kong Clubs, which were not much more expensive than the non-Club rooms. This plan only partially panned out, and I was thankful we had packed boxes and boxes of Chewy Bars and Slim Jims that often sustained my kids... And maybe me…


    Finally, our biggest goal was to maximize rides in our limited time; since booking at on-site hotels came with extra fast passes at 2 out of 3 sites, Shanghai and Hong Kong, that’s what we did. Shanghai had an option to buy more fastpasses on their app, so we planned to do that, too. We considered the Hong Kong 3-hour private tour, but it seemed unnecessary from everything we read and since we’d be getting 8 hotel fast passes. Tokyo was harder to score additional fastpasses for. We would have done a private VIP tour, or anything like that, but it was not an option. The only way we could find to get extra fastpasses was through a hotel package. So although they were crazy expensive, and really hard to reserve, it was the only way we could imagine traveling that far during a peak season and being able to accomplish a maximum number of rides. All in all, we’d make the same choices again, after experiencing the unimaginable heat, crowds, and queues especially in Shanghai and Tokyo.
     
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  2. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2014
    Messages:
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    Here is the first draft of our plan:


    Day One. Saturday 7/28. Travel Day. Fly from Rochester to Toronto from 10am – 11am, then fly from Toronto to Shanghai from 1pm – 3pm. Plus those 12 pesky hours of a time change, so a 14 hour flight. Essentially, all day travel.


    Day Two. Sunday 7/29. Arrive at Shanghai Disney by 5pm, check into Disneyland Hotel, Club Level, and crash. Extra hotel fast-passes: one per ticketed day, excluding arrival day, at a specific time, delivered via their app. We chose Soaring for Monday and Tron for Tuesday. This does not sound like much of a perk, but it was crucial to our enjoyment of the parks, as Soaring fast passes were depleted by 8:30am each day, including the ‘for purchase’ fast passes.


    Day Three. Monday 7/30. Shanghai Disney, Day 1 of 2. Park opens at 8:00, so arrive at special hotel guest entrance by 7:30. Tour theme park from 8am – noon. Then, use Jenny’s Shanghai Tours for a private half-day tour “Old Shanghai Tour” to see the sites, upgrading to a private car and hotel pick-up. Back to the hotel by 6pm, and possibly back to the theme park at night.


    Day Four. Tuesday 7/31. Shanghai Disney, Day 2 of 2. Full day in the park, purchasing a full Fast Pass Set (asap after getting in the park, as those also sold out by 8:30am every day). We received a “Magical Moment” this day that was really very magical. Mid-day, check out of hotel and have them hold luggage until overnight flight to Tokyo. Note: no hotel room tonight based upon Peach Airline flight time from 1am – 5am. Additional note: this sounded like a great idea during the planning phase but turned out to be a really, exceptionally stupid idea during execution.


    Day Five. Wednesday 8/1. Arrive in Tokyo at Haneda Airport by 6am. Meet with Viator Tour Group at nearby Hamamatsucho bus station by 9am for the “Tokyo Morning Sightseeing Tour,” after storing luggage or using a luggage transport service. Tour from 9-1, then travel to Tokyo Disney Ambassador Hotel and pick up resort package materials as Ikspiari Mall (absolutely no idea why Tokyo Disney thinks it is a dandy idea to have to check in to your hotel and go to yet another not-so-close location to get your park tickets / fastpasses / package perks). Possibly go to one park that evening, or possibly crash and get some real sleep. Ambassador Package was a 1-night package that included six Fast Passes per person for use on 8/1 and 8/2. Plus other perks like a free drink coupon, popcorn, themed gifts, every single item in a tiny slip of paper. We’re talking 37 small pieces of paper for this one package, that all had to be carefully managed and carried around in the parks. Thank goodness one of the package perks was a lanyard that contained zippered holder for the family’s 37 pieces of paper…


    Day Six. Thursday 8/2. Disney Sea Day, using Happy 15 (early entry perk). Park opens at 8:00, so arrive by 7:35 for Happy 15, but first, drop off luggage for transfer to Hilton Tokyo Bay and use package amenities for a quick stop-in at Chef Mickey’s at 7am. Then take bus to Disney Sea. Leave by 3:00 to take Monorail to check in at the Hilton. Hilton Package was a 2-night package that included 8 Fast Passes per person for use on 8/2 - 8/4. In total, we had 14 ‘package’ Fast Passes to use over 4 days of park access – in addition to the paper fast passes. In retrospect, they were very much needed and worth every penny of the package. And if you’re counting, this package contained 45 small pieces of paper to manage and carry around in the parks… What I wouldn’t have given for a Magic Band in Tokyo…


    Day Seven. Friday 8/3. Disneyland Day, with no Happy 15. Park opens at 8:00, so arrive as close to 7:00 as possible after breakfast in the hotel. Full park day, no other plans beyond enjoying the park.


    Day Eight. Saturday 8/4. Final Tokyo Half Day, return to favorites at both parks. No Happy 15. Park opens at 8:00, so arrive as close to 7:00 as possible after breakfast in the hotel. Leave parks by noon to pack up. Leave hotel by 2:30 for Limo Bus ride to Narita Airport. Fly via Hong Kong Express to Hong Kong, arriving at 11pm. Stay in the onsite Regal Airport Hotel from 11:30pm – 7:30am.


    Day Nine. Sunday 8/5. Hong Kong. Taxi from Airport Hotel to Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Club Level. Check in to hotel and leave luggage. Self-led, half-day trip to Tian Tan Buddha using the Ngong Ping 360 “Sky, Land, Sea” Package. Return to hotel and go to Disney Park from 6-9. Park hours are very limited, from 10am – 9pm. Extra hotel fast-passes: because we were club level, we received 4 family priority passes per day, so a total of 8 attractions to use over 2 days. Not per person, but per family, so in our case a party of 4. Slightly less convenience and flexible than the other parks, but this park needed them the least, so it all worked out.


    Day Ten. Monday 8/6. Hong Kong Disney, all day. Park opens at 10am. Tai Chi with Goofy at 9, then shuttle bus to the park to arrive by 9:30. Club-level guests will get priority seating at the first show of Mickey and the Wondrous Book at 11:15, and can choose a time for a priority character photo. (Donald Duck in the morning or Shellie May in the afternoon. We chose Shellie May at 1:00.)


    Day Eleven. Tuesday 8/7. Travel Day. Easy hotel morning, then taxi to airport to arrive by 11:45 for flight home. Fly from Hong Kong to Toronto from 3pm – 6pm. Plus those 12 pesky hours of a time change, so a 15 hour flight. Then fly from Toronto to Rochester from 8pm – 9pm. Essentially, all day travel.


    So, that was the pre-arrival plan we mapped out, as hotel reservations slowly opened up and park tickets and hours/schedules became available, and hotel perks ebbed and flowed and changed over our planning period. It was so different from planning a trip to the World, where our DVC rooms can be booked 11 months in advance and restaurant planning must take place 6 months in advance then FastPass+ planning needs to be ready to go exactly 2 months in advance. In our Asian booking experiences, often hotels looked like they were sold out when their availability hadn’t even opened yet (Hong Kong), or hotel rooms could be booked months in advance but park tickets not until 45-days before use (Shanghai), or scoring a “resort package” took more hyper-management and fast-fingering than Florida’s Fast Pass Day (Tokyo, where packages for non-Japanese visitors are very limited and hard to score).


    Stay tuned to see how we executed on that plan! I’ll be writing up each park visit and city tour over the next few days and adding them to this post, so others can benefit from our lessons learned from the mistakes we made, plus hear about a few of the planning steps we got right that allowed for a really wonderful, memorable, once-in-a-lifetime vacation.
     
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  4. Shock13

    Shock13 Mouseketeer

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    I'm so onboard with this! How crazy of a trip so can't wait to read about it. No worries about text only but would love at least 1 picture of the family?
     
  5. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    Haha, OK, maybe over the weekend I will finally figure out how to upload pictures! Meanwhile, I'm ready to add another installment, but quite not ready for pictures.
     
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  6. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
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    Part I: Shanghai


    On Saturday 7/28 the family awoke early and bound out of bed singing Disney tunes in perfect harmony, brimming with enthusiasm for the adventure ahead. OK, you caught me. We didn't do that. That’s a social-media-worthy exaggeration. I never actually made it to bed the night before, what with the packing, prepping, and finishing up work assignments, and after I was finally ready to go, I had to drag everyone else out of bed at 6am to make sure we arrived at the airport to be first in line for our Air Canada flight. We were indeed excited for the adventure ahead, but there was one potential roadblock that kept a few butterflies fluttering around in my stomach. We were heading to China armed only with Passports, no Visas. I had studied the Transit without Visa (TWOV) guidelines extensively and knew we were within the rules (using China as a transit between two other countries, in our case Canada and Japan, and staying less than 144 hours, in our case 58 hours) so I felt we were totally prepared to prove our point. That said, I had read many reviews, several that were recent, that Air Canada in particular did not acknowledge the program and had blocked travelers from flying to their destination. On our tight schedule, we did not exactly have time for a 1-2 day delay in starting our adventure. I had printouts of all of our flights, hotels, a TIMATIC report, and an 8-page overview of the TWOV rules from the official website. Just in case…


    We arrived at the Rochester airport long before the gate opened. From our tiny flight of 20 passengers, we were first in line. (We would later on the trip be first in line for RC Racer, first in line for Dumbo, and near-first in line for Tron, which would prove to be much bigger achievements…) The agent arrived 30 minutes later and checked us in within 5 minutes, looking at our Passports and telling us we were all set. I explained the TWOV and she looked something up on her computer and said we were good to go to China and stay for 30 days using merely our US Passports. My husband walked away victorious, thinking I had worried for nothing and possibly killed a small tree printing out my TWOV proof. I walked away less confident than ever that we’d make it to China. She was totally wrong, very nice, but totally wrong. We were off to Toronto, and I still had butterflies.


    We had a short layover in Toronto, just enough time for the kids to eat one final burger before the trip. We also had our first experience with the remarkable, incomparable ability of patient Chinese people to queue up, as lines formed long before the first announcement to begin boarding… While awaiting boarding for Zone 5, in steerage, we heard the announcement I was dreading: Be sure to present your Visa with your Boarding Pass. Wha wha waaaaaaa. No Visa for us. After my husband tired of my hemming and hawing over how to sneak past the boarding agents without a Visa, I went up to the gate to ask for assistance, filled with trepidation. Well, my husband was right. They were awesome. All they wanted to see was proof of our flight out of Shanghai, and 5 minutes later, they had everything prepared for their end of our TWOV. Well done, Air Canada! Years later when Zone 5 boarded, we breezed on to the flight. We were way back in economy in Row 32. It was a great, great flight. We worried how my 6 foot 3 son would fit in his seat for 14 hours, even watched a video of this exact flight on youtube to prepare for it, but no worries. The entertainment options were great, the attendants were helpful, the food was palatable (and the mid-flight, cup-o-noodle service was a huge hit with my gang), so given how exhausted we started out, we even slept well and arrived in China refreshed and ready. The TWOV component in the Shanghai airport was just as easy as it had been in Canada. Our lines were much shorter than those with Visas. In fact, all elements of the customs process went smoothly. It was Sunday afternoon and we were in!


    We picked up our luggage and then we were out in a sea of people. Our first truly insane line of many more to come, with people crammed in narrow exit lines for no particular reason that we could tell. Then we saw our first budging, with folks climbing under the ropes, dragging their luggage with them. When we were finally out of this mess, we grabbed a taxi for a quick ride to Shanghai Disney. Mistake alert! After returning home, I read in CaptainCook’s really fun trip report that she had wisely pre-planned a ride. Do what she did! Don’t do what we did. We knew not to get tricked into a fake taxi. We knew to have the name of our destination ready to go in a translation app. We thought we’d be fine in a regular taxi. And we kinda were, except that the driver was clearly a 3-pack a day smoker who had the decency not to smoke while we were in the car, but must have smoked in it every other moment of the day. P.U. My kids are from that generation where smoking in public has always been outlawed, so they are very sensitive to smoke and if we were in the States we would have moved on to a new taxi, but with our limited language skills and desire to reach out destination, we sucked it up. Literally, I think that taxi ride shaved a year off all our lives. So, unless you want to risk your ride, follow CaptainCook’s recommendation to pre-plan all aspects of your transportation.


    After a short 20-minute stinky ride, we arrived at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel around 4:30pm. Simply wonderful. We were ushered up to the 7th floor for Kingdom Club check in service, which was as close as I’ve come to the Royal Treatment. Wow, wow, wow. They sent my family off to have drinks and snacks, and Ken, the amazing Ken, checked me in. I had booked our room back in early March, and at that time, I could not book any park tickets until 45-days prior to our trip, which would be mid-June. Their website indicated that you would be given one bonus fastpass per day if you purchased your tickets with your hotel room, but their system was not set up to do that. Catch-22 as I wanted the security of an early hotel room and needed the tickets. I web chatted with the cast members and was told I could rebook everything in June if I wanted that perk. Not ideal. I took screen shots of the webchat and their website, which actually changed over time and later indicated that as long as you bought tickets from them directly that perk would still count. I was armed with these print-outs, but no need. Ken said that since we were staying onsite and buying our tickets upon arrival, we would have one fastpass for Monday and one for Tuesday. He also said that they were offering a new 3-day ticket that was not available online. We really needed only 2 days for Monday and Tuesday, but he strongly urged us to get the 3-day tickets because the 2-day ticket was $1200 CNY whereas the 3-day ticket was only $900 CNY. I tested my understanding umpteen times, and yep, that was right, it was much cheaper for our family of four to get the 3-day ticket and I might just convince the kids to go in to the parks for a few hours on Sunday night. Ken warned me that the park was already sold out for Monday, (while there on Monday it also sold out for Tuesday) so we should expect huge crowds and plan accordingly. Ken then asked if we were celebrating anything on the trip, and why yes, we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and my son’s 17th birthday over the course of our trip. Ken asked me to sit tight as he wanted to see if he could do anything to help us celebrate.


    Ken returned a little while later and said he had arranged a magical moment for us for Tuesday. If you’ve read Nomarian’s fabulous trip report of his family’s journey to Shanghai and Hong Kong over their 20th Anniversary, then you already know what our magical moment would turn out to be. In fact, I had read his awesome review before our trip, and didn’t even allow myself to hope for anything so amazing. But we’ll save those details for a little later in the summary. Meanwhile, Ken’s service was extraordinary. We have only stayed club level for 3 or 4 trips, it’s not our usual approach since we’re usually in DVC suites. But Ken was by far the very best we have ever encountered, and set the bar a little too high for the rest of our trip. He gave us our tickets, took our pictures, set up our fastpass group on the app, and had us all set to go. He then mentioned that he put us in a castle-view room and personally took us to our room to show us around. Pinch me!!!


    After we settled in, the kids and I decided to head into the park to walk around. We had already checked the app and knew that the wait times were far beyond our ability to wait and all of the for-purchase fast passes were sold out for the day. But still, we wouldn’t mind drinking in some Shanghai ambiance. My husband had other drinks in mind, at the club. This would become a common occurrence. We’d head into a park, he’d make sure we got our money’s worth out of the club. :-)


    One short bus ride to the park, and we were about to set foot in our 4th of 6 Disney parks! How wonderful, how magical, what a castle! And, somewhat unexpectedly, we seemed to be an attraction unto ourselves. I do not believe I have ever been stared at as much as in our hours at Shanghai Disneyland. My daughter and I are strawberry blondes, and my son is fairly tall, and my husband bears a bit of a resemblance to Howie Mandel. Amongst ourselves, we often pondered what they were thinking about us. Was America’s Got Talent on tour at Disney? Was a basketball team in town? Was that teenage girl on some remote Disney show? Probably none of the above, or more like – why on earth would these folks travel half way around the world in a heat wave just to wait three hours in a line to ride Tron? Regardless - we were stopped for pictures more than a few times per day, especially my daughter. Eventually, we started taking reciprocal pictures of the nice folks who asked us for pictures. It was great fun. And, a great lesson for my kids, about looking different/unintentionally standing out, about communicating creatively through language barriers, about a responsibility for better behavior when nearly everyone around you has their eyes on you. Meanwhile, on Sunday night at 7pm the wait time app reported that Pirates was down to a 20 minute wait, so we went for it. We were budged a few times and disappointed by the vast amount of litter on the long walk to the ride. But we were not disappointed in the ride at all! To the contrary, we were blown away. What a great first ride of the journey. WOW, WOW, WOW. Well done, Shanghai! (Step it up, Florida!)


    Then, we had some shenanigans with that language barrier and thought we were on a Disney bus to the hotel, but we were on some other kind of shuttle bus that whipped up well past the hotel and into some parking garage maybe a half-mile away. Note to self: even if the sign says Disney Shuttle Bus, ask some confirming questions before hopping on. Our bus driver seemed to get some personal satisfaction out of pointing to the Disneyland Hotel and watching us start our walk back to our intended destination. He could not hide his laugh. Exhausted, we popped into the Club for drinks (the sodas have PULL TABS, a relic my kids had never experienced; they stared at their cans and wondered how to make the drink come out!) and pictures with Bedtime Mickey, then returned to our hotel room, prepped for our 6:30am breakfast, and fell asleep almost before our heads hit the pillows. Next up: Monday split between the park and a city tour, and Tuesday with a magical moment.
     
  7. Simba001

    Simba001 Mouseketeer

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    I can’t wait to read more.

    Your report is very helpful.
     
  8. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

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    The cup o' noodles on the plane was a big hit with our crew, too! Well done, Air Canada. :)
     
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  9. Nomarian

    Nomarian Mouseketeer

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    Can't wait to read the rest of your report!
     
  10. Aurora_Australis

    Aurora_Australis Mouseketeer

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    I'm hooked! Can't wait for the next installment.
     
  11. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2014
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    We interrupt our regularly programmed installment to test out my new skills on uploading pictures, after studying the board's FAQs.

    Attempt 1: Family Picture in front of the Tokyo Castle.

    upload_2018-8-11_16-21-55.png

    Attempt 2: Picture of the kids in front of all six castles.

    upload_2018-8-11_16-22-50.png

    Let's see if this works.
     
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  12. mjantz

    mjantz DIS Veteran

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    Eager to read all about your travels.
     
  13. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2014
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    Part II: Monday - Shanghai Park Day


    Monday morning we were slowly up and at ’em and off to the Kingdom Club for breakfast at 6:45. At that hour, we had the whole place to ourselves. We were excited for some Western breakfast food, but it was far heavily skewed to the Eastern side. We all managed to find something, and even tried a treat labeled a doughnut that did not bear any real resemblance to something you might find at Dunkin… We took a too-leisurely approach, given that crowds were already growing whilst we poured over the buffet options.

    upload_2018-8-12_9-23-25.png

    We hopped on the (correct!) shuttle bus for a short ride to the Downtown Disney hotel guest entrance around 7:30 for an 8:00 park opening. The heat was already unbearable at 90 degrees as we walked to the growing line. (Sorry, Celsius people, I’m a Fahrenheit girl.) Make that, growing amoeba. (Remember, the park was at max capacity and closed for same-day ticket sales.) This hotel guest entrance is a relatively new venture for Shanghai Disneyland and while I am grateful they started this, I can’t compare it to what I’m sure is a sea of insanity at the main entrance, it was at least a pond of insanity back at this entrance. First, the umbrellas, the ever-present umbrellas. We quickly learned that sunglasses provided good protection from the umbrellas that were held to a shorter height than we are, after nearly having our eyes poked out several times in the first 5 minutes. Next, people everywhere, with no line boundaries. Then, the sweat. Everyone in the line seemed to be pouring sweat, especially with dripping faces, and all of their mothers were lovingly wiping off their sweat with some form of sweat rag. This totally grossed out my kids. I am a really considerate mother, and therefore spent the rest of our vacation offering to wipe up anyone’s sweat, to the utter and continual repulsion of my kids. (Um, no, I love them and all, but I’m not mopping up their sweat for them.)


    The line inched slowly forward, probably not even 200 people, but it often felt like one step forward and two steps back, what with people pushing past us allegedly to meet up with their family, and women with strollers using them as battering rams to forge through the crowd. There was no crowd control, and when we finally got near the front of the line at 7:50ish, we could see the main logistical problem. They had the two bag check stations positioned immediately before the two turnstiles. The bag checking should have happened 100-200 feet earlier in the process. The bag check involved people hurling their bags onto the table and trying to shove them ahead of all of the other bags into the waiting hands of the very thorough security guards that I'm glad didn't get hired for the TWOV check at the airport; for the guests, it was like they were creating their own makeshift fastpass for bag check. It created chaos, as the bag winners would then push themselves through to the turnstile to grab their bags and move on to be ticket winners. We quickly learned that we would have to be a bit more aggressive to get through. My Mickey-print Vera Bradley backpack lobbed through the air to a winning spot on the table! Kidding, I waited until I could slide it across the table.


    Finally, at 8:03 we were in, all of that agony had happened in less than 35 minutes, but it felt like forever. Funny enough, once we were in the park, it didn’t seem busy at all. Of course, the front gate folks hadn’t really entered yet, but the part is so vast that crowds were not prevalent in the walkways, they were in the queues for sure, but often you could spread out your arms and spin around without touching anyone on a walkway. You know, if you’re prone to spreading out your arms and twirling as if you were Julie Andrews on a mountain top…


    The hotel guest entrance is adjacent to Tomorrowland, so we walked quickly to Tron. It greeted us with a 20-minute wait and we were in line. We were out by 8:25, so the timing was pretty accurate. Holy cow, what an amazing ride! Confession: we have never seen Tron, so we really couldn’t tell you how it fared to the theming of the movie, but we absolutely loved the ride. Serendipitously enough, two nights after getting home, Tron was on Paramount Network at 1 in the morning and we hadn’t exactly adjusted to Eastern Standard Time, so we watched a bit of it. We were then even more impressed with the theming of this high-speed attraction. Just loved it. Now back to Monday morning…


    As you’ll recall, we had a Soaring hotel fast pass for 10:30 – 11:30. In our survival mode of getting through the park entrance, we totally forgot to book our first free fast pass until we were in line for Tron. THIS WAS A MISTAKE. Whatever you do, if it’s peak season, as soon as you pass through the turnstiles, stop for a moment to plan your first fast pass. By the time we thought to do this around 8:15, we were still okay, but Soaring was out (thank goodness we had one already) - and sold out for the for-purchase passes - and the big attractions were already on nighttime return times. In addition, the Fast Pass Premiere Sets were all sold out by 8:30. We selected Peter Pan for 10:00-11:00. The system gave us no grief for overlapping Fast Passes, thankfully.


    After Tron, we wanted to stay somewhat on that side of the park while also hitting up a thrill ride without a fast pass, so we saw RC Racer looming in the near distance and headed that way. We hopped in line at 8:30 with a wait time of 20 minutes. For as accurate as the Tron wait was, RC Racer got it all wrong. We fell in love with this ride in August 2017 at Disneyland Paris, so we knew it loaded slowly, but dang. We were prepared for 20-30 minutes. We got on the ride at 9:25, after nearly an hour’s wait. You know that moment in Florida, where some magical blast of air conditioning thrills you and makes you forget how long you’ve been standing in sweltering heat? Well, the nice folks at Shanghai do not know about that customer satisfaction trick. They had some giant fans, but not enough. So. Darned. Hot. I lovingly (ok, sarcastically) offered to wipe sweat off my family members, no takers. Other families in the line were happily wiping each others' sweat. We were thrilled to make it to the ride and feel some blowing air. Great ride! No idea why they didn’t put this attraction in the lineup for the opening of Toy Story Land in Florida, as it has already been replicated a few times and likely would have been easy to add. Just offering Hollywood Studios some helpful input. We were there in July right after opening, and RC Racer would have enhanced the experience...


    So, after that, we needed to go hang out in Al’s Toy Barn for drinks and air conditioning. We made no pretense of shopping, just cooling off and refreshing a bit. Only two rides done, and we were already experiencing heat exhaustion. The jet lag didn't help.


    We then worked our way to Fantasyland to use our fast pass to ride the best version of Peter Pan ever. Such a delightful, visual treat! While in our short fast pass line, we remembered to book our next fast pass. The only thing left - literally - was Pooh, and it was way out to the 8:30 - 9:30pm time slot. We took it, but we honestly weren’t sure if we’d be coming back to the park that night. Apologies to anyone who was dying for a nighttime spin with the Heffalumps and Woozles that we irreverently stole.


    After Peter Pan, it was already time for our Soaring fast pass, so we walked over there. This park is huge. Overly huge. Possibly unnecessarily huge, cuz you can walk and walk and walk and walk some more, slipping in a few of your Julie Andrews’ twirls, and then finally get to a ride, where you and several thousand of your new closest friends will be crammed in a queue with each others' sweat. So, we walked and walked and walked to Soaring. Sadly, at this point, we didn’t know the park very well and while we were strolling past Pirates of the Caribbean we came to the conclusion that we probably went the long way. The really long way. But at this park, everything felt like the long way to us…


    We got in line for Soaring at 11:15. We’ve seen the new version at Epcot, but it was so worth it to experience it in Shanghai. Their Imagineering of this attraction was entirely different from what we expected. It did not feel like an airplane hangar at all. We thought we were heading to the wrong ride, in fact. No Patrick Warburton reminding us how to buckle our safety belts and store our ears under the seat. Instead, it was a very mystical explanation of the attraction, from what we could glean from the pre-movie. We were on our own for interpretation, as only the safety element was repeated in English. We totally enjoyed our flight!


    After Soaring it was 11:45ish, we had done only 4 attractions in about 3 ½ hours. We’re the type of folks who like to be on Avatar Flight of Passage for the first ride of an Extra Magic Hours day then scoot over the Expedition Everest for 3 trips with the Yeti before the crowds arrive. We’re accustomed to well-planned 4 major rides in 30 minutes. This was a whole new world for us. Still, we were happily off to a grand start, and then headed back to the Disneyland Hotel where our tour guide would be meeting us at 1:30. We knew that at 11:30 with wait times at 2-3 hours for all of the major attractions, we were better off investing in cooling off and resting than in attempting one more ride.

    upload_2018-8-12_9-24-42.png

    Back at the hotel, we grabbed drinks from the Club (unfortunately, they did not offer unlimited bottled water there, like other Clubs, but there were 4 bottles per day in the room). Then we went to our room and chowed down on our preservative-laden food substitutes that traveled with us from the States, such as Chewy Bars, Slim Jims, and Pringles. Yum! We figured we’d be back for the Club appetizers early evening, after our city tour.
     
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  14. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2014
    Messages:
    32
    Part III: Monday - Shanghai City Tour


    At 1:30, we began our tour adventure. I had booked through Jenny’s Shanghai Tours. I’d scoured all kinds of tour sites and selected hers because of positive reviews and a few mentions on this board. WE GOT THIS ONE RIGHT. This was a great experience. Our final deciding factor was that most of the tours on Viator or other services had a clause where folks staying in the outskirts like Disney had to get yourself to some location in downtown Shanghai to join the tour. This felt a bit beyond our transportation and communication skills, but Jenny had an option to get a private car with your private tour for $100 USD and to be picked up in one of the outskirts for an extra $40 USD. For us, that extra $140 was totally worth it, for the ease and convenience factor. Not to mention the excellent air conditioning. We chose the Old Shanghai Half Day Private Tour, and it was just perfect. Here was the itinerary:

    • Hotel Pick Up at 1:30
    • Yang's Dumplings
    • Confucius Temple
    • Yuyuan Garden
    • Tea Ceremony
    • Hotel drop off at 5:30

    Our tour guide was Marco, and he was an ideal blend of informative and able to give us a few moments in the car to stare out the windows. Or to chat amongst ourselves. Or for the kids to snapchat some pictures to their friends back home. (Before leaving, we had upgraded our AT&T service to allow for international access for $10 per day per device, plus purchased VPN services for each device, so we had full access to all our needed apps.) (Take that, Great Firewall of China!) Sidebar: our access wasn't perfect in the Disney park. Ken had warned us that the onsite Wifi did not blend well with a VPN so we'd have to turn it on and off in the parks for best use of their app.


    Marco started us off at Yang’s Dumplings. The tour description said it would be a snack. LOL. This was some snack. Our eyes about came out of our head when each of us was served 4 ginormous dumplings and a bowl of noodles in a vat that, individually, could have served our family of four for a week. Worse yet, none of us really liked it very much and thought there may well be eyeballs in our food. (Kidding, the restaurant was very clean and the food high quality. Just, very different for my gang.) We sampled some, to be polite. He asked if we had already eaten and I kicked my daughter under the table just a bit so she wouldn’t blurt out about the Slim Jims, Chewy Bars, and Pringles we’d dined on. I said yes, we had lunched and were expecting just a snack. Try as he may, my husband couldn’t finish his own meal, let alone all of ours, so we walked away from a fair amount of food. I felt a bit guilty about that, but it did appear that most others in the dining area were sharing these giant portions. Several patrons were also laughing at my kids’ reactions to their food, and politely mocking our inexperienced chopstick usage, so I feel like we gave back to the community with a bit of free entertainment, which assuaged the guilt of the abandoned food.


    We then went to the Confucius Temple. Great historical experience. And fun to see all the notes and wishes for good grades tied into the trees. My son has already taken AP World History, so for him, it was like a refresher. My daughter starts the class in September and he was jealous that she’ll have had these real-life experiences that will boost her learning. So far, she is not off to a rip-roaring start. After we got back home, she asked, “Who was that guy we learned about? That Simon Sez guy?” Her brother grumbled back: “CONFUCIUS. Duh. And it’s Confucius Say.” Thankfully, she has two years until that particular AP Exam…


    Next up: the Yuyuan Garden. Absolutely beautiful, and so much more enlightening with a tour guide. We now understand so much more about the lions, how they are always positioned in two, and the meaning behind the dragon and phoenix, which coincidentally is one of our favorite dishes at our local Chinese restaurant but means so much more now. When we saw the Disney parade the next day, my daughter noticed that the Mulan float had the two lions positioned exactly as we learned about them. Maybe there is hope for her in AP World yet.


    The Tea Ceremony was just a little add-on after the garden tour. We did not purchase any of the offered tea, but this did give us a chance to joke with the kids about the adage “what does that have to do with the price of tea in China.” Which we find ourselves saying a bit too much nowadays. We are hilarious in our own minds. FYI, the price of tea in China was quite high, if you’re curious. All in all, the tour was outstanding. Priced at $69 per person, it covered a great deal of experiences in our small amount of available time and made us feel less guilty that we were heading to Asia just for Disney. See, we enjoyed some culture, too!


    upload_2018-8-12_9-27-39.png

    We returned to the hotel at 5:30 and went to the Club for appetizers and drinks. Again, we practically had the place to ourselves. Again, there were many beautiful looking treats that were not quite to our taste buds’ specifications. For most visitors, this would probably be an amazing array of snacks and desserts. For three of us, it seemed like a bit too much raw fish. Would have been nice to see some rolls and butter. My kids can live on rolls and butter for days. My husband powered through and took one for the team, sampling everything along with a glass of scotch, while I continued to marvel over my Pepsi availability and snuck in a few Mickey-themed desserts.


    We were back in our room by 6:30 and debated our options for the evening. Head back to the parks for ambiance and that fast pass ride on Pooh? Or take showers, eat a few more Slim Jims, and sleep? Sleep won out, and we talked through our plan for tomorrow. How to get there earlier, and how to be savvier in the park entrance line, how to aim for Pirates first, and not to forget to buy our Fast Pass Premiere Set asap after entering the park. We were asleep by 7:30 so we’d be raring to go for our Magical Moment on Tuesday.
     
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  15. hellocat2

    hellocat2 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Great report! Thanks for including your experience about TWOV, I had been worried about it for my trip next year.

    Do you mind mentioning how much your club level hotel room cost? Did the rates fluctuate at all? I’m debating when to book my room for next June.
     
  16. Nomarian

    Nomarian Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Messages:
    197
    Reading your report is like being there again. Glad to see your tour went well with Jenny's Tours. We did a whole day with them and enjoyed it. As for Ken, he is spectacular with customer service and we talked a lot every time we saw each other in the Club.
     
  17. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2014
    Messages:
    32
    Hi Hellocat2,

    First, TWOV was so much easier than I thought it would be. I'd even read some reports that you had to get your hotel to list out all family members to prove that you were all staying together, and I never obtained that from Disney, whose receipt said only my name, plus three more adult guests. In the end, no one asked for hotel verification of any kind, the main concern was proving the next flight out. If I had to do it all over again, I'd probably still bring as many proof-point printouts as I did, but I'd stress a lot less over it.

    Secondly, yes, the rates fluctuated a bit, but more based upon the dates/season we were pricing out. When we first started planning, we were looking into April for Easter Break, and it would have been considerably less expensive, everything from flights to tickets to hotel costs, but I don't know that we could have shaved off a few days to fit this trip into a school break timeframe, so we eventually decided to bite the bullet and go with the July/August timeframe.

    Here were all of the room costs for Shanghai right before I made our booking, at the 1 night price for July rooms:

    upload_2018-8-13_16-15-4.png

    We booked shortly after this price check; I then kept an eye out on the club level cost, but it never varied much after that.

    Meanwhile, when I tested out April dates, the Club Level room was around $450 USD per night. When I practiced booking my rooms before July dates opened up, yes, I do that, :-) I had practiced with late June dates, and those were $575 USD per night. Looks like late July is the more expense time to go.

    Hope this helps,

    Karen
     
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  18. hellocat2

    hellocat2 Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Apr 10, 2017
    Messages:
    12
    Thanks so much for the info! My trip is 10 months away but I’m still thinking about it every day :)
     
  19. DisneyMomKB

    DisneyMomKB Earning My Ears

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2014
    Messages:
    32
    Part IV: Tuesday - Shanghai Park Day 2

    We were quite excited for today’s Magical Moment so we were up and in the club for breakfast by 6:30. Regrettably, Ken let us know on Monday night that he would not be working on Tuesday, but the rest of the team swooped in to greet us and ask about our time preference for our ride to the Park. We asked for a 7:00 departure because the park was again at capacity, and they said no problem. They reviewed our Magical Moment agenda with us, as follows:
    • 7:00am – Van ride to the Theme Park
    • 11:15am – Preferred Seating for Parade, Mickey’s Storybook Express (yay!) plus Duffy’s Splashing Pre-Parade (boo!)
    • 7:30pm – Preferred Seating for Fireworks, Ignite the Dream (there were 2 shows, at 7:30 or 9:00)
    We ate in a much less leisurely manner and headed to the main entrance to catch our ride. En route in the elevator, it occurred to me that we would never make it back in time to check out… D’oh. So, we stopped over at the front desk to inquire about a late check-out and explained our scheduling situation, mentioning the preferred viewing at the parade. The awesome young lady at the front desk said, “Oh, you are the Magical Moment Family! Happy Anniversary! Let me see what I can do.” She came back a few minutes later and said she would have the van give us a ride back to the hotel at 12:30 after the parade, and we could have a late check out at 1:00. What a great start to the day. The service everywhere at this hotel was simply top notch!

    Then, the limo van took us on a short trip to the park, and before we knew it we were in Downtown Disney heading to the hotel guest entrance. As we passed the Cheesecake Factory, my kids begged, begged, and begged some more to have it for lunch. I reminded them we were on a super tight schedule, but perhaps we could make it happen for dinner. To make up for that soup and dumpling experience yesterday… LOL. Then, we were in line. Remember Monday’s amoeba? Well, that must have been an anomaly, or Disney must be great at learning from their mistakes, as Tuesday’s line was actually – a line! They had put up barriers and ropes to divide the entrance into 2 fairly well-organized queues. Still plenty of sweat and umbrellas, but far less shoving/nudging to the front.

    Thank goodness, because we had one main thing on our minds: getting in to the park quickly in order to secure our Fast Pass Premier Access Set. Just in case, we started checking the app while we were still in line. My son’s iPhoneX was our most reliable phone when in the park. (As the designated Family Martyr, I always have the oldest technology, so my iPhone6 seemed to sputter and spit a bit when we used it on Monday. Which could have been that VPN interaction with the Park WiFi.) Still, for a job as important as scoring these all-critical fast passes, we put my son to the task. While in line he tried to order a free fast pass. No luck breaking that rule. Then he tried to order a Premiere Set, and BINGO! We have a winner! We quickly finished that order before we were in the park and had the comfort and security of those fast passes by 7:30am. If you are attending during any Peak Season time, we highly recommend purchasing fast passes early!

    We were in the park shortly after that and smart enough today to step aside to get our first free fast pass, so by 7:40 we scored a Tron fast pass for 9:30 – 10:30am. We also had a hotel fast pass at Tron for 7:30 – 8:30pm so we could experience it at night. Plus the 8 fast passes from our purchased Premier Access Set. Though we were blissfully stocked with fast passes for the day, curiosity got the better of us, and we checked the app again at 7:50 just to monitor progress of the for-sale fast pass packages. By 7:50, all of the free and for-sale Soaring fast passes were sold out. Gone. The park technically wasn't even open yet! By 8:30am, every type of for-sale Fast Pass Set was gone. Get them early, folks! At the time we were in the park, here was the variety of Sets being sold, along with their USD cost:
    • Premier Access Set with 8 rides for roughly $100 USD per person ($12.50 per attraction) - Buzz, Pooh, Peter Pan, Pirates, Roaring Rapids, Seven Dwarfs, Soaring, and Tron.
    • Adventure Set with 5 rides for roughly $65 USD per person ($13 per attraction) - Buzz, Pirates, Roaring Rapids, Seven Dwarfs, and Tron.
    • Family Set with 5 rides for roughly $65 USD per person ($13 per attraction) - Buzz, Pooh, Peter Pan, Pirates, and Soaring
    • Individual rides, which included a few more attraction options than the sets, such as Rex’s Racer and the Challenge Trails, at about $14 USD per attraction
    These prices had increased since when we first started planning our trip, but we felt that the park tickets themselves had been relatively inexpensive compared to Florida, so for this once-in-a-lifetime trip, we didn’t mind an upsell for the Premier Access Set in order to accomplish a maximum amount of rides. Remember, we accomplished only 4 rides in 3 ½ hours on Monday. We had a lot to cover, and only one day in which to do it. We were on a mission!

    We wanted to enjoy a few major attractions before we tapped into our fast passes, so we headed to Pirates, stand-by. The posted wait time said 20 minutes when we entered the line just before 8:00, but we were off the ride by 8:15, so it was really a walk-on. Though the kids and I had done it on Sunday night, it was my husband’s first time, and he had the same amazed reaction. We were all glad we’d have one more ride via fast pass later in the day. Once is not enough on this ride.

    Then we were off to Camp Discovery for the harness climb. At 8:25, the stated wait time was 15 minutes, but we were harnessed almost immediately after figuring out the locker system, then within moments we were off for our adventure. My husband is a college professor with a concentration in special education, preparing future teachers to teach unique learners. He LOVED this attraction. Every part of this climb was a perfect illustration of differentiated instruction, with three different levels of challenge inter-meshed so that families could stay together regardless of climbing skill. I’ll confess, within my gang, I’m the one with no climbing skills, so I would often breeze through the “easy” path and then wait for them to catch up, since they were all taking that darned road less traveled… We all gave this an enthusiastic A+ and we were glad we had read the advice to wear sneakers and to hit this one up early in the morning. What a great, unique attraction. I just wish I smuggled my camera onto the climbing path.

    We were out of our harnesses by 9:00 and looked at the incredible triple digit wait times at most top attractions, so we voted to start using our Premier Access fast passes. We were right next to Soaring, so that’s where we headed. We entered the queue at 9:15 and even with our fast passes, the wait was longish, we were not done with the experience until just before 10:00. We were already loving our Premier Access. At this point we were 1 down, 6 to go, and 1 to abandon.

    One to abandon? you ask. Yes, we do not enjoy getting wet. If I do Splash Mountain, I double up on ponchos. I have no shame and do not mind being the biggest dork in the PhotoPass picture. I enjoy staying dry. If I do Kali River Rapids, I… well, pigs would fly before I would do Kali River Rapids. So, we voted to skip Roaring Rapids. None of us wanted to do it. We were flying out tonight in our current footwear, and it just didn’t seem worth it to us to risk a day-long soaking. The big downside of an all-digital fast pass program is that we had no ability to pixie dust these 4 fast passes to another family. The Roaring Rapids line already exceeded 2 ½ hours before 10am, and we would have loved to give away a set of fast passes for this ride, but there was just no way to do it in this new, non-transferrable digital era. We walked by the long line-up of umbrella toters and wished for a magical data transfer to will our fast passes away... This prompted my husband to remember that he loved using our umbrella for sun protection.

    At 10:00, we hiked over to Tron for our free fast pass, excited that we still had two more Tron fast passes left. This ride is great enough for 3 rides per day, maybe more! While in line for Tron, we obtained our next free fast pass; they were getting limited already and we felt lucky to see Buzz available at 3:00pm. That would be our last free fast pass of the day, so both days we were in the park, we were able to schedule only two free fast passes before they ran out. I know from other trip reports that at less peak times, fast pass availability is much greater. Yes, yes, I am aware how obvious that sentence is… Supply and demand and all… Just saying…

    After Tron, we enjoyed a brief water break and then started to head to the parade reserved viewing. We were told to arrive around 11:00 and we weren’t 100% sure exactly where we were heading, so we followed the parade route and asked a few cast members along the way, until we reached our destination. We were the first ones there and settled in on a shaded bench. This is the life! And it just kept getting more and more magical from there.

    A few other families joined us in the Reserved Viewing section. I noticed there was a VIP Viewing section across the street, but we were very content to be Reserved. After we’d been sitting for a few moments, the most wonderful Cast Member, Lanhua, who seemed like she must work for some form of Disney Special Services, approached us and congratulated us on our anniversary and our son’s birthday. She asked him for his favorite character, which he said was Goofy. And then she presented a balloon Cinderella to my daughter. She was celebrating nothing, and here she just received the most amazing balloon character I’ve ever seen. Not that I have vast experience with Disney Character Balloons, but it was miraculous. And, Cinderella happens to be her favorite character. She dabbles in musical theater and had played Cinderella in the Rogers and Hammerstein version, so Cindy holds a very special place in our hearts. How amazing that they did this for her, when she was the poor kid we hadn’t even ‘signed up’ for a celebration, if you will. It made her whole trip, in the funny way Disney Magic can really hit you while you’re in the park, when you least expect it.

    Cast members carefully protected the area, as several folks tried to bust in by sliding under the ropes. We did feel a touch guilty about the luxurious space we had, when folks were standing 3-4 deep along the parade route.

    First up was the Pre-Parade Party known as Duffy’s Splashing Pre-Parade. Do you recall how I feel about getting wet? Well, they were not kidding when they called this the SPLASHING pre-parade. It was a soak fest. We might as well have done Roaring Rapids at this point, because most people were dying to get splashed, so in the preferred zone, we got extra special splash treatment. LOL, it was awful. I was so grateful my husband had evolved into a Shanghai Umbrella User, as my daughter and I snagged his umbrella and created a fortress of protection with it, actually using it for its intended purpose of protecting from wetness. This seemed to tempt the parade cast to aim harder for us, but we worked hard to stay dry, lol.

    Next up was Mickey’s Storybook Express. This was a charming parade rich with favorite characters and great dancers. Many of the characters gave my daughter the full VIP Treatment, with special waves and blown kisses. She loved every minute of it. It was over too soon.

    We were supposed to meet the limo van at 12:30 for a ride back to the park, but the parade had started very late, so we were pushing it for time when Lanhua came back to us and said she needed us to sit and wait for 5 minutes and that it would be totally worth the wait. We could tell then we were going to be late to the van, but we were excited about what was coming next, and figured everything had been so magical today, they’d probably forgive our tardiness back at the hotel. It was definitely more than worth the wait, as this was a special event for my son. They cleared the walkway, and a paint artist magically created a ground “painting” of his favorite character, Goofy, and a birthday cake. It was amazing, and a huge crowd gathered to see what special artwork was being created. Then, this artist handed my son one of the paint brooms and taught him how to make a Goofy on the ground. My son has his talents, but um, drawing is not one of them. He struggles with stick figures. Somehow, we was able to make a great Goofy with his special trainer. Then they presented him with a special drawing of Goofy, took our pictures, and told us they would see us tonight at the fireworks. My son was turning 17. It can be hard to buy into Disney magic at that age, but he was blown away. It was truly the highlight of his trip. It seems possible that one family is selected each day for this Magical Moment designation. We loved reading about it in Nomarian’s trip report, and couldn’t believe that lightning struck DISers twice, and we were fortunate to be having a similar experience. It doesn’t cost Disney much to offer these amenities, but I can tell you it totally enhanced our visit and we will forever give Shanghai the highest scores in service!

    upload_2018-8-15_13-14-20.png

    We hurried back to the hotel and walked in after our already extended check-out time. They said no worries, we could take until 2:00. We quickly packed up our room, including the awesome hotel amenities such as the toiletries and slippers that we knew we were authorized to take, (as Americans, this whole concept of slippers in the room was very foreign to us, we brought back several sets for mementos for ourselves and friends along with the Disney themed toothbrushes, shampoos, etc.) took one last trip to the Club for drinks/snacks and to offer our eternal gratitude to the team. And then we checked our luggage with bell services and headed back to the park. As we walked out, the valet team stopped us from walking to the bus and asked if we’d like a limo ride back to the park. Would we? You bet we would!

    The rest of the day was truly a whirlwind from there. We re-entered the park around 3:00pm (after the initial morning rush, the hotel guest entrance is fairly quiet at other times of the day) still holding 8 fast passes (the 6 we were going to use from our Premier Access, 1 hotel fast pass, and 1 free fast pass), and driven to use them in the most efficient manner possible.

    Since the hotel guest entrance was practically in Tomorrowland, we headed right to Buzz to use our free fast pass. THIS IS OUR FAVORITE BUZZ. We find Florida Buzz to be so frustrating compared to Toy Story Mania. Maybe we just stink at shooting games, but we can’t ever tell where the laser is to supposed to line up, and the whole scoring system seems random. And yes, we’ve read all the blogs on the Buzz tricks and tips. So we rode in not very excited about Buzz, but we rode out loving it. The shooting system was awesome, we knew what we were aiming for, we enjoyed strong scores, and we all came out smiling. We were thrilled we had one more fast pass for this attraction. Great job, Shanghai! This was a truly unexpected pleasure for us.

    Since we were right next to Tron, we figured we might as well enjoy Tron ride 2 out of 3. Enjoy it, we did. We were down to 6 remaining fast passes and devised a plan as follows: take a long hike to Pirates, then walk back to Fantasyland to do Pooh, Peter Pan, and Seven Dwarfs. Then watch the fireworks at 7:30. Finally, end the night with our final Buzz and Tron fast passes. It was 3:45 and this seemed very do-able.

    We interrupt this awesomely designed plan for some pesky kids who resumed their incessant begging for Cheesecake Factory. Given how we were mapping out our plan to minimize long walks, and they really had not eaten much today, we conceded. It made sense to go back to Downtown Disney from Tomorrowland, and then finish up our Fast Pass Plan after an early dinner. So, we were off to dine in a restaurant we knew well. It was a great respite from the heat and nice to have familiar entrees to select from.

    We were back in the park at 5:00 and hoofed it over to Pirates to start our plan. We had about 2 hours before we wanted to be heading to the fireworks and 4 attractions to experience. The crowds were simply huge beyond belief, so we started to wonder if we had bit off more than we could chew. Or if we’d be sacrificing fast passes to meet our schedule. Instead everything ran smoothly, it was a perfect night, if you could overlook the oppressive heat. Which was really hard to overlook…

    From 5-7:15 we completed Pirates, Pooh, Peter Pan, and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. We knew we would love Pirates and Pan, and we did. We knew that Pooh and Seven Dwarfs would be clones from Florida, and they were, but it was still fun to see how they executed the attractions in Shanghai. At Pooh, the line was long, and my daughter was stopped for many, many pictures. We thought Pooh had an adorable Asian flare about him, and wondered if the majority of park goers could appreciate all of Christopher Robin’s and Rabbit’s cutely misspelled English words throughout the ride, especially in the garden. Seemed unlikely, since we had no clue what the Chinese characters were saying in the giant storybook pages, so we enjoyed letus and kerits on everyone’s behalf. We also loved Seven Dwarfs and we were eager to see how the ride ended, since the Florida version uses many elements from the dismantled Snow White’s Scary Adventures ride. This ending had a sweet scene that we liked, but not quite as much. Otherwise the attraction was top notch, which is a good thing since most people were waiting over 3 hours for the opportunity to ride it.

    Then it was time for Reserved Viewing at the fireworks and we were ready to Ignite the Dream. Similar to the Parade, there was a VIP Viewing area that was one step closer to the action than the Reserved Viewing area, but from our perspective, we had the best seats in the house. While thousands and thousands of folks were surrounding the castle, likely with no personal space between then, we were lucky enough to have uncrowded space with an unobstructed view. When we came in, Lanhua warmly greeted us and brought us to the appropriate area. My husband opted to lean against a back railing while the kids and I sat down in the front section closer to the castle. It felt like we were in the castle, part of the show. Simply awe-inspiring.

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    Lanhua came back to see us one more time, and we exchanged hugs all around. What a wonderful young woman, we see her really going places in her Disney career. She walked us over to Tomorrowland in an efficient manner and we said good-byes. We then rode Buzz and Tron for one final time, both were just as great the 2nd and 3rd time around, respectively. Before we knew it, it was 9:15 and time to return to the hotel, claim our luggage, check status on our pre-arranged taxi, change into our travel clothes (we always freeze on airplanes and plan warmer clothes accordingly) and chill out in the lobby to wait until it was time to depart for our 1am flight at 10:15.

    It was hard to believe the first phase of our adventure had come to a conclusion. We would be in Tokyo before morning. We figured after a day like today, we’d all enjoy a few hours of sleep in the sky, since who couldn’t sleep through anything after a day like today. Famous last words… The next 11 hours are where our overall plan started to break down a bit. But at this point we were still blissfully drinking in our terrific Shanghai experience. No, we did not accomplish everything in the park or hotel, but we accomplished everything on our must-do list. It was truly magical from start to finish.
     
  20. CaptainCook

    CaptainCook Mouseketeer

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
    Messages:
    357
    If it makes you feel any better, they are really strict about this and probably would have come after you. :tongue: I was wearing my GoPro on a chest harness, and they almost didn’t let me take it, even though it was securely strapped on!
     
  21. nono

    nono DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jun 30, 2005
    Messages:
    1,029
    Can't wait for the next installment! :flower1:
     

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