Planning a trip to Shanghai Disneyland? So is everyone else. Don’t let the massive crowds ruin your experience at the happiest place on earth!

As a huge (read: borderline obsessed) Disney fan, Shanghai Disneyland was up there on my list of must-sees on our trip to Shanghai.

Shanghai Disneyland has 33 attractions spread across seven different themed zones including the highly raved about TRON Lightcycle Power Run — only available here!

Mickeys Storybook Express Parade - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

As with just about every Disneyland in the world, we knew that crowds were inevitable and queues for rides could be unbearable.

Imagine spending your hard-earned money on a ticket and dedicating an entire day there only to spend it waiting in 100-minute long queues and covering just five or six rides. It’s like what they say, “if you fail to plan then you plan to fail.”

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This is our ultimate Shanghai Disneyland guide to help you get a head start on your Disney day — a compilation of pre-trip tips, a breakdown on the Disney Fastpass, must-see attractions, suggested routes and more!

1) Plan the best time to visit

Disney Castle (Backview) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Maximise your experience at Shanghai Disneyland by picking the best possible day to visit. It’s always packed in Disneyland. But on certain days it’s really packed. If you’re not a fan of spending most of your time in queues, be sure to avoid:

Weekends: Fridays and Saturdays tend to be more packed than Sundays. If your itinerary allows, the best time to come is between Tuesday to Thursday when the crowds are more manageable. Plus, tickets are cheaper on weekdays!

National Holidays: Chinese New Year (First two weeks of February), Mid-Autumn Festival (First week of October) and National Day Golden Week (First week of October). Check the exact dates as they vary year to year.

School Holidays: China has two main school holidays you should avoid — Winter Break (January to February) and Summer Break (July to September).

2) Save Time & Money by Pre-booking Your Tickets

Klook App - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Pre-booking your tickets means you skip the hassle of queuing to buy tickets at the counter. One less thing to worry about! When the gates open, you want to be in the line to enter the park (not the line to purchase your tickets)!

Enjoy 8% savings by booking through Klook. A weekday ticket on the official site cost ~S$78 but we got ours on Klook at ~S$72; the weekend ticket costs ~S$112 but ~S$107 on Klook!

All you have to do is get the QR code on your phone scanned at the entrance and you’ll receive a physical ticket (which is important for getting Fastpasses! More on that later)

3) Download the Shanghai Disneyland Mobile App

Shanghai Disneyland App (Waiting Time) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

The Shanghai Disneyland Mobile App will greatly enhance your visit. You’ll be able to make Disney Fastpass selections (more on that later), view estimated waiting times for rides and check timings for parades and shows. Best part, it’s free!

Upon entering the park, scan your ticket to link it to the app and you’re good to go!

4) Pack Only the Essentials

Free Water Cooler - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Your passport is required at the entrance of the park. Bring along sufficient cash as credit cards aren’t accepted at food kiosks. Do note that selfie sticks and tripods are strictly not allowed in Shanghai Disneyland — these will be confiscated during the security check.

Having a water bottle is essential, especially when the weather gets hot. There are free water coolers scattered around the park for you to refuel.

5) Arrive at least an hour before the gates open

Disneyland Castle - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Ever heard of the phrase “On Time = Late”? At Shanghai Disneyland, this couldn’t be more true. We arrived 30 minutes before opening time and already were forced to join a seemingly never-ending queue.

Note that there are two rounds of queuing before you get to enter — the security bag check and then scanning of tickets.

We recommend arriving at least an hour before the park opens. Opening hours are usually 9AM – 8PM, but differs slightly for holidays and special occasions. Check the official park calendar for exact hours before you visit.

6) Make use of Disney’s Fastpass

Tickets - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Disneyland’s Fastpass works differently from other theme parks where you pay a higher price for shorter queue times. Instead, Fastpasses here are free and work on a per-ride system. Here’s how it works:

2 Ways to Get a Fastpass:

(1) Via the Shanghai Disneyland App: Select “Get Fastpass” and scan the QR code on your park ticket to link it to the app. You can link up your friends’ tickets too by creating a “party” on the app and scanning their tickets. This way, you’ll get to make Fastpass bookings together. Note: You can only book a Fastpass once you’re in the park!

(2) Via Physical Kiosks: There are no Fastpass booths in Shanghai Disneyland so if you face difficulties using the app, head to one of the Guest Services booths scattered around the park to book your FastPass. Fret not — there’s hardly any queues at these booths thanks to the app!

Guest Services - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Note: If your Fastpass isn’t linked to the app, you’ll need to present your physical ticket in order to enter the Fastpass queue. The physical pass is also required to re-enter the park (even if it’s linked to the app).

TRON Lightcycle Power Run (Outside) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

How do I claim my Fastpass?

Head to your selected attraction at the stipulated timeslot. Simply join the Fastpass queue, scan your ticket or QR code on your app and you’re good to go!

Is there a limit to the number of Fastpass I can claim?

You can only claim a new Fastpass every hour and a half or so. Every attraction has a limited number of Fastpasses so it’s important to prioritise and plan the order of Fastpasses to redeem. The app also states when you’re eligible to claim your next Fastpass!

Rides with Fastpass:

The popular rides that tend to have the longest queues are TRON Lightcycle Power Run, Roaring Rapids and Soaring Over the Horizon but here’s a list of all the rides you can get Fastpasses for:

– TRON Lightcycle Power Run (Tomorrowland)
– Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue (Tomorrowland)
– Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Fantasyland)
– The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh (Fantasyland)
– Peter Pan’s Flight (Fantasyland)
– Roaring Rapids (Adventure Isle)
– Soaring Over the Horizon (Adventure Isle)

7) Must-see Attractions

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With so many things to see and so little time, Shanghai Disneyland can be slightly overwhelming for a first-timer. It’s good to have a rough feel of the available attractions so you can map out your game plan for the day.

Here are the highlights for each of the seven themed zones:

Adventure Isle

Adventure Isle Entrance - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Think Indiana Jones meets Wild Wild West. The main feature of Adventure Isle is the Roaring Mountain, where the Roaring Rapids and Challenge Trails are located (more below!).

Roaring Rapids - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

(1) Roaring Rapids: A Disney favourite. Climb aboard a raft and get drifted away by the currents. Don’t underestimate the seemingly calm waters — you WILL get wet.

Soaring Over The Horizon - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

(2) Soaring Over the Horizon: One of the park’s most popular attractions! This ride takes you on an immersive journey over some of the world’s most iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower in Paris and the Great Wall of China in Beijing!

Camp Discovery Challenge Trails - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

(3) Camp Discovery Challenge Trails: This attraction was a fun surprise. Three unique elevated rope courses spread over the terrain of the Roaring Mountain will make you feel like you’re in a Jumanji scene. Challenge your friends to the ninja warrior-like course to see who comes out on top. A whole lotta fun for people of all ages!

Toy Story Land

Toy Story Land - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Toy Story Land screams childhood memories for those of us who grew up on the franchise. The bright colours and overall positive vibes will guarantee to have you singing “you’ve got a friend in me”.

Rexs Racer (Toy Story Land) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

(1) Rex’s Racer: Zoom back and forth on a U-shaped track! Think Viking ship but on wheels.

Slinky Dog Spin - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

(2) Slinky Dog Spin: No theme park would be complete without at least one spinning ride. Enjoy some head-spinning fun as Slinky chases his own tail!

Fantasyland

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (Fantasyland) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Find all the Disney classics at Fantasyland — princesses, Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan themed rides!

(1) Enchanted Storybook Castle: Standing at 60m, this is the largest Disney castle ever built. Here you’ll find all the OGs — Cinderella, Snow White and more! It’s like a sorority house, but for your favourite Disney princesses.

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(2) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: This ride is an all-time favourite family-friendly rollercoaster. There aren’t any heart-dropping loops but it’s still some good old-fashioned fun.

Alice in Wonderland Maze - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

(3) Alice in Wonderland Maze: This beautifully designed garden is unique to Shanghai Disneyland. Plus it’s a great spot to snap some Instagram shots!

(4) Peter Pan’s Flight: Escape to Never Land with Peter Pan, Tinker Bell and the rest of the gang! This ride features fun storytelling of the Disney classic and is targetted towards kids.

Gardens of Imagination

Marvel Universe - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

The Gardens of Imagination sits right in the centre of Shanghai Disneyland and is where the famous fireworks show happens!

(1) Fantasia Carousel: Immerse yourself in fairytale wonder as you climb aboard whimsical creatures on the Fantasia Carousel!

(2) Marvel Universe: Meet your favourite superheroes in the Marvel Universe. One of the many highlights — stepping into the shoes of Iron Man through virtual reality and trying out his latest tech!

(3) Gardens of the Twelve Friends: Check out your Chinese zodiac in Disney character form — you guessed it, this clever blend between traditional Chinese and Disney elements can only be found at Shanghai Disneyland!

Tomorrowland

Tomorrowland Entrance - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

A visit to Tomorrowland is like stepping into the future. Sleek buildings and sci-fi music give birth to a themed zone that’s literally out of this world.

TRON Lightcycle Power Run (Boarding Area) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

(1) TRON Lightcycle Power Run: The crown jewel of Shanghai Disneyland and the envy of all other Disney parks. It’s currently the only one in the world (although headed to Walt Disney World in Orlando in 2021).

It’s based on the sci-fi film Tron which explores a virtual reality world known as “The Grid”. Instead of typical coaster seats, you’re leaned over on a lightcycle zooming through the circuit. Is that badass or what?

(2) Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue: Armed with pulse blasters, shoot at targets to destroy Emperor Zurg’s army and accumulate points! It’s even more fun when you’re competing with your friends to see who gets the highest score.

(3) Jet Packs: Soar through the sky and control the height at which you fly via hand-held controls!

Treasure Cove

Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Ahoy mateys! Sail (or walk) over to Treasure Cove to live out your dreams of exploring the seven seas.

(1) Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure: This ride was a feast for the eyes. The decor was stunning and the visual effects were breathtaking. There’s so much to see I’m pretty sure we’d spot something new if we were to take it again. 10/10 would recommend! Queue time for this ride is typically shorter compared to other popular attractions.

Mickey Avenue

Mickey Ice Cream - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Mickey Avenue is the first zone you see when you enter the park and also where most of the character meet & greets take place! Take photos and interact with your favourite Disney characters here or pick up souvenirs and candy at the various stores.

*Pro-tip: Although Mickey Avenue has the biggest souvenir shop in Shanghai Disneyland, the World Disney store located at Disneytown has the largest selection of merchandise!

8) Don’t Forget the Shows

Shanghai Disneyland Parade - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Shows are a huge part of the Disneyland experience! Here’s a breakdown of some of the shows available:

Eye of the Storm - Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

(1) Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular (Treasure Cove): Watch Captain Jack and his crew outsmart the naval forces through 30 minutes of comedy mixed with exciting stunts! With several timings throughout the day, this is a show not to be missed.

Mickey Mouse - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

(2) Mickey’s Storybook Express (Gardens of Imagination, Tomorrowland and Toy Story Land): You can’t say you’ve been to Disneyland without seeing the iconic parade. Mickey’s Storybook Express happens once a day around 3:30PM — check the app for accurate show schedules. Witness your favourite characters like Mulan and Mickey Mouse himself strut through the park in true Disney celebratory style.

(3) Frozen: A Sing-Along Celebration (Fantasyland): If Frozen is your jam, then you can’t miss this. Sing along to “Let it go” and “Love is an open door” with Elsa, Anna and Kristoff!

(4) Ignite the Dream – A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light (Gardens of Imagination): What better way to end your Disney day than with a magical fireworks display? More on the best time to get a seat for the show below!

Note: All the shows are in Mandarin. Don’t worry though — they’re still incredibly entertaining even if you don’t understand the dialogue! The top-notch visuals and cast were more than enough to keep us entertained.

9) Suggested Routes

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Now that you have a rough idea of the rides you want to take, start planning your route for the day! This Shanghai Disneyland guide provides two recommended routes — the thrill-seeker route and the scenic route.

Both routes include Shanghai Disneyland’s must-sees, but the Thrill-Seeker Route prioritises action while the Scenic Route highlights Instagram-worthy attractions and shows.

Attractions with asterisks (*) mean Fastpasses are available!

Thrill-Seeker Route

Thrill-Seeker Route - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

1) Soaring Over the Horizon* (Adventure Isle)
2) Camp Discovery Challenge Trails (Adventure Isle)
3) Roaring Rapids* (Adventure Isle)
4) Eye of the Storm – Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular (Treasure Cove)
5) Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure (Treasure Cove)
6) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train* (Fantasyland)
7) TRON Lightcycle Power Run* (Tomorrowland)
8) Mickey’s Storybook Express Parade (Around the entire park)
9) Jet Packs (Tomorrowland)
10) Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue* (Tomorrowland)
11) Rex’s Racer (Toy Story Land)
12) Ignite the Dream Fireworks Show (Gardens of Imagination)

If you have time to spare before the fireworks, catch Slinky Dog Spin or re-ride some of your favourites (hint: TRON)!

Scenic Route

Scenic Route - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

1) Soaring Over the Horizon* (Adventure Isle)
2) Camp Discovery Challenge Trails (Adventure Isle)
3) Eye of the Storm – Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular (Treasure Cove)
4) Pirates of the Caribbean – Battle for the Sunken Treasure (Treasure Cove)
5) Alice in Wonderland Maze (Fantasyland)
6) Enchanted Storybook Castle (Fantasyland)
7) Peter Pan’s Flight* (Fantasyland)
8) Voyage to the Crystal Grotto (Fantasyland)
9) TRON Lightcycle Power Run* (Tomorrowland)
10) Mickey’s Storybook Express Parade (Around the entire park)
11) Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue* (Tomorrowland)
12) Marvel Universe (Gardens of Imagination)
13) Fantasia Carousel (Gardens of Imagination)
14) Ignite the Dream Fireworks Show (Gardens of Imagination)

*Pro-tip: Go for the normal queue for your first ride of the day (e.g. Soaring Over the Horizon) and redeem a Fastpass for an attraction later on. The waiting time for the first ride shouldn’t be too long if you enter the park once it opens.

10) Remember to Have Lunch!

Toy Box Cafe

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

Food can be a little pricey in the park, but you can still find options for under 100RMB! These include Stargazer Grill (Tomorrowland), Toy Box Cafe (Toy Story Land) and Tangled Tree Tavern (Fantasyland).

Disneytown Food Republic - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

If you’re looking for more dining options, head over to Disneytown located right beside Shanghai Disneyland. Here you’ll find well-known restaurant chains like Food Republic, IPPUDO, The Cheesecake Factory and Wolfgang Puck.

The entrance to Disneytown from Disneyland is at the Gardens of Imagination. You can always re-enter once you’re done!

11) Save A Spot for the Fireworks Show 50 Minutes Before

Photo credit: Shanghai Disneyland Resort

I knew it was gonna be crowded, but I was not ready for the Black Friday-like mass of human bodies crammed together in a limited space. My advice: for a clear, unobstructed view, head to the Gardens of Imagination at least 50 minutes early. Grab a few snacks to munch on while you wait for the show to begin.

By 6PM, a crowd was already forming for the 8PM fireworks show. We squeezed in a couple more rides and only returned 30 minutes before. All the good spots were long gone by then and we were left scrambling for a decent view all the way back, near the beginning of Mickey Avenue!

Ignite The Dream Fireworks Show - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

The Ignite the Dream fireworks and lights show was still amazing though, even from afar.

Bonus Tips

Pin Trading Disney

(1) Disney’s Pin Trading Culture: Unknown to many, Disneyland has a culture of pin trading! Purchase a set of pins from any gift shop and trade with cast members throughout the park.

(2) Free Stickers: Great news — you can get souvenirs for free! Approach Guest Services to ask if they have free stickers. We managed to bag a few Duffy stickers ourselves!

(3) Scavenger Hunt: Join Shanghai Disneyland’s scavenger hunt! Buy a Shanghai Disney Passport from one of the souvenir shops and collect stamps from stamp kiosks located throughout the park. Once you’ve collected all the stamps, you’ll receive a surprise gift!

Getting to Shanghai Disneyland

Shanghai Metro Tickets - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Public Transport: From the city centre (People’s Square station, line 8), taking the Shanghai Metro to Disney Resort station, line 11 only cost 6RMB (~S$1.16) and takes around 45 minutes.

Taxi: A cab ride from the city centre will cost you around 118RMB (~S$23) and can take up to 40 minutes depending on the traffic.

Eighth Theme Zone Coming Soon: Disney’s First-ever Zootopia Land

Zootopia

Photo credit: Disney Parks Blog

As if you need another reason to visit — Disney is opening its first-ever Zootopia theme land in Shanghai Disneyland! The film was a huge success in China, where it became the country’s number one animated feature film when it was released in 2016.

No word yet on the official opening date, but construction has already begun this year!

Getting the best out of Shanghai Disneyland

Enchanted Storybook Castle (Gardens of Imagination) - Shanghai Disneyland Guide

Disneyland is always a big-ticket item on the list of tourist must-dos, making it packed almost all year round. Crowds can get pretty insane, especially at rope drop (when the park opens for the day).

Pre-booking tickets online via Klook helped save us a lot of trouble and took away the unnecessary anxiety of having to purchase tickets on the spot. And it saves you money as well!

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By sticking to a gameplan and utilising the strategies in this Shanghai Disneyland Guide, we managed to hit a total of 14 attractions and shows — and even re-rode some of our favourites! Let’s just say we loved TRON so much we took it three times.

Planning a trip to China? Check out our 2-Week China Itinerary — Rail Adventure Across Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou and Suzhou!

Have your own Shanghai Disneyland secrets or tips that you’d like to share? Comment them down below!


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