Shanghai DL Review from Last Year


DIS Veteran
Oct 28, 2008
Quick back ground: DH and I were born and raised in Shanghai. Our kids were born and raised in US but we travel back almost every year, mostly in summer. Last summer, I was planning a visit to Shanghai DL when we traveled back. I was going to do a package, but didn't due to two reasons 1) scheduling conflict with other vacation plans 2)My mom found out a distant cousin (2nd or 3rd) actually was working for DL and he offered to take us into the park for free as part of his employee benefits. So we decided we would just do a quick day trip.

Overall, we are glad we did the trip, but the trip itself was not as pleasant as the ones we had in US parks. It was a combination of 1)bad timing 2)us not understanding the rules fully 3)rude guests 4)bad CMs.

1) and 2), they are both all on us. We can't really blame anyone but ourselves for choosing the wrong time (really no other choice though) and not doing good homework before hand.

3) I am comparing things to our US park visits and it's sad that the rude behavior came from everyone, not just the locals. You see people from all background and speaking all kinds of languages not behaving.

4)Don't get me wrong, we had great CMs helping us that day. But there are couple particularly bad ones that almost ruined my day. I'll talk about it in my next post.

I am going to post a review that I wrote for my US Disney travel agent immediately after the trip, I made some changes today to take out names:

We found out at one point that we have a family member who is a cast member there so he just got us in for free for a day trip!

Now, let me get the couple not so fun points out:

1) The park was extremely crowded. Our friends all advised us to arrive an hour before park opening, which we did, which we never do here in the us. we still waited 90 mins just to get into the park. DD literally had a melt down at the gate. She was scared by the crowd! This was just a regular summer day and most of the Chinese schools were not off for summer yet, only some of the colleges were off! If crowd level at WDW here is 10 at Christmas time, it was 99 on the day I went, and it must be 999 now that summer is in full swing.

2) Because the crowd level was so high, all fastpass was gone within an hour of park opening. You can only get one fastpass every two hours. So we snatched one for Peter Pan and that was it.

3)Because the crowd level was so high, all rides had at least 60 min+ wait. I am talking about kiddie rides like tea cups and carousals. Seeing the crowd level, I made a very last minute decision to purchase premium packs. They are basically fastpass packs. I bought two premium packs for 8 rides and two premium packs for 5 rides because DD was still too little to ride the big ones. There were about $150 and $100 each. So whatever money I saved on tickets, I spent double more on premium packs.

4)If you have clients go in the future, please please please familiarize them with the rules. They are very different from the rules here. They snap your picture when you going in and then they tie each ticket/fastpass to a face. I made a mistake of adding the 8-pack premium pass to my ticket instead of my husband and they wouldn't let me switch! I normally don't do big rides and I had to go on those with DS that day because I can not switch with my own husband!!!! The cast members there are mostly very nice and friendly, but I think they need more training and the whole system and process needs to be improved.

5) I love China dearly, but China is still a developing country. People are still learning how to enjoy the nice things in life. There are more line cutting, people pushing, littering, which is a shame. I think the best way to deal with it is to let it go, smile on and do the right thing yourself.

Ok, onto the fun part:

1) The park is gorgeous . It's so new and still in pristine condition. Being built recently, there are more newer and cooler technology involved.

2)Soaring: this one is mostly like the one in WDW. Only difference is at the end, instead of flying back to Epcot, we flew back to Shanghai. We all love Soaring. Always one of our favorites.

3)Roaring Rapids: Kevin said it was like Kali River Rapids, but a tiny little more bumpier. (I have never rode that here in US).

4)Peter Pan: very much like the one in Magic Kingdom with slightly different design.

5)Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: very much like the one in Magic Kingdom with slightly different ending. We rode it in big down pouring rain and it was actually really cool and fun!

6)The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: very much like the one in Magic Kingdom.

7) Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure in Treasure Cove: 100 times better than the one in WDW. It has really cool water features and IMAX size projected backgrounds. I loved it.

8) Toy Story Land: so cute and fun. We rode Woody's Roundup because it had only a 20 mins wait around the parade time. It is like the Alien Spin Saucer here. It is a kiddie ride, but Kelly loved it. Didn't try the rest of the rides. The wait time was insane and they were not part of the premium pack. We still had fun walking around.

9) Buzz Light Year Planet Rescue: it's like Toy Story Mania in HS. Different setup.

10) Tron: OMG, so so so so so good. I don't do big rides, but had to go on this one because of the fastpass mix up. I almost died on it, lol. Kevin was hyped. He thinks it's like test rack on steroids. Overall, Tomorrow Land was the best part of the park for me. I would even rate it higher than Pandora in AK.

11) We also checked out the Marvel Exhibit and Alice in Wonderland Maze. Both were fun. I personally like the Alice in Wonderland Maze a lot. It has many things from the story in the garden and was really cute.

12) We enjoy the afternoon parade very much. They have some unique rides. I love the one for Mulan. I don't remember seeing one in WDW, but I could be wrong.

13) Frozen A Sing Along Celebration: it was not as fun as the one in HS. It's truly just a sing along, with no jokes or story lines. This is understandable though, because the majority of the audience would not have the culture background to understand those jokes and the story line. The whole show was done in Chinese, but they have western actors/actress in the show and they speak chinese with really heavy accent. Kevin and I got more chuckle from that.

14) Food are actually quite tasty in the park. They are not so expensive if you are used to pay WDW price, but to me who knows the local food price, they are very pricey. We just had some quick service lunch and walked to Downtown Disney for Dinner.

13) We didn't do any character meeting. I figured we can always do that in WDW. We didn't watch the firework either. We were super tired as we arrived an hour early before rope drop.


DIS Veteran
Oct 28, 2008
Now here is the particularly bad part. I would not post the review in Chinese or via Chinese social media. As I am writing this today, a year after the trip, I feel I still have to take out some of details. I’ll explain why.

I mentioned that we got in for free because one of my relative was working there. I think he still works there. The tickets they gave you for being CM guests are visibly different from a regular paying guest. I also mentioned I bought the premium pack with fast passes. Note I paid regular price for those Fast Passes. They were not free nor discounted. -- These are the backgrounds.

So we went to a ride trying to use one of the FP coming with the premium pack. The entrance was kind of confusing, and it was raining so there were crowds gathered everywhere making it even worth to tell where to go. We asked a CM where the entrance was for FP line and he directed us to a line. We joined the line, waited 20 mines, felt the wait was a bit too long, but that day we have waited longer at other FP lines, so we kept waiting. 40 mins in, we felt that can't be right so we asked the guests around and found out we were directed to the regular line, not the FP line. Fine, mistakes happens. It took us another 5 mins to get out of the line, go back to the entrance. We notified the same CM that he made a mistake. I was very calm and polite at that point. All I did was telling him that he made a mistake and asked him to direct me to the right FP line. I absolutely did not make a scene or make any demands.

So the CM directed us to another line. We waited another 15/20 mins or longer, I don’t honestly remember how long. We got to the front of the line, the CM there asked us how we were even allowed in the line and got there. I was very confused at that point. After a little communication, I found out that we were directed to the single rider line, which my daughter was not tall enough for. The single rider CM told me to go back to the entrance and found the FP line. I asked her to find a manager, because I have already been directed wrong twice, and waited in two lines, I didn’t feel I should wait in another line. A manager came, she wanted me to go back to entrance upon seeing us, but I spent some time and explained the whole situation and she agreed to make arrangements to let us get on as a family from the single rider line.

After we finish the ride, I found the same manager. I said I wanted to make it a formal complaint. They need to have better CM training and make better signs at the entrance. I admit I was a little upset, after all, I just wasted an hour+ of time. But I swear to god I wasn’t being a Karen and I didn’t make any demands, not any, none! You’ll just have to take my words on that.

That was when everything goes downhill. The manager saw the tickets in my hand. She asked me on her own, completely on her own, if we would like to have an extra FP for Dumbo as compensation. I said if you wanted do that for us for sure we would appreciate that. Note, we had AP to Disney World last year, Dumbo was not something we would die for. We rode it so many times already in the US. We couldn’t care less if we got on Dumbo or not that day. I feel ridiculous that I have to make all these explanations but what happened afterwards was just disgusting.

The manager asked for our tickets to scan and told us the Dumbo FPs were loaded. We said thank you and went on our way.

About 30 mins later, my CM relative called. Obviously, the manager scanned the tickets, using that to trace back to my relative. My relative works a fairly low level job. She called my relative’s boss, telling him that I made a scene and demanded monetary compensation for difficulty using a free fast pass. – There were just so many lies in this one sentence, I just can’t…. She also demanded my relative who was already off work at that time to come back on site to deal with me. There was also threats to my relative’s job.

Luckily, my relative’s boss was more reasonable. He told my relative no need to come back, but just to give me a call and resolve any conflicts over the phone. My relative asked me to let go of whatever happened because he fear his job would be in danger if I don’t. I have to explain to him 1) I didn’t ask for any compensation in any form. 2)I have already left the ride and there was no more conflict. My relative still begged me not do anything else because he was worried about his job.

I kid you not, I had to stand in front of Soarin for a good 10 minutes just to take deep breath, calm myself and not to let anger ruin the rest of my day.

Here is when it gets even better: there was never a Dumbo fast pass loaded to our tickets. The manager saw our tickets, scanned them just so that she can trace to my relative and threaten with retaliation. The Dumbo FP was just a lie.

So there is the story. It’s just too bad to be true. I had to be a Karen for that to happen to me but I really wasn’t.

This single incident left such a bad taste in my mouth. I vowed to never visit Shanghai DL again. I still love Disney. About to go on a cruise and am planning a trip to Tokyo DL next year.


Jan 27, 2015
Thanks for sharing your experience.

It seems like crowd levels is the biggest challenge with any park but even moreso for SHDL. When we visited last year, I expected the worst, and tried by best to avoid the main gates at opening. My wife and I ended up having a wonderful time at SHDL, the crowd levels were low in early Nov in 2018 and didn't have to wait long for most of the rides. We stayed in the Toy Story Hotel, it made getting into the parks for early entry each morning a breeze. Starting the day out ahead goes a long way.

Since you visit often, I'd recommend giving the park another try, but if you can manage a night or two at one of the hotels, it may be a smoother experience.
  • Lesley Wake

    DIS Veteran
    Mar 16, 2017
    I’m really sorry about your experiences. I went last month and I would agree with @bkmanhole. The early entry for hotel guests is essential to starting out the day on the right foot! I was one of the first 10-20 people in the park each of the two days and that was without any pushing or shoving in the queue. I also got the Premier access FPs-maybe they have organized their systems better because it was always pretty clear where to go! I also didn’t have any real bad guest experiences (yes, crowding during parade, but nothing I couldn’t handle). And the CMs were very friendly, even once physically holding back and scolding a school group of kids who tried to push in front of my when boarding the Voyage to Crystal Grotto. I do think it helped that I was an obvious foreigner, so there were different expectations for what I was supposed to understand (sometimes CMs would specifically come over to me to repeat instructions in English). I also felt they were trying to make sure I had a good experience to take back with me! Another funny thing was when I rolled my suitcases from my room into the hotel lobby when I was checking out. The bellhops looked horrified and almost ran over to help me out!

    I def think everyone’s experiences are different, but I would agree, maybe give it another chance (maybe after zootopia opens)?


    Earning My Ears
    Nov 22, 2019
    Thanks for your review. Living in Australia I have always been tempted to go to Shangai or Hong Kong Disney given the proximity, but after your review I think I will give it a miss. It sounds to me a bit like Disneyland Paris, which to me is made terrible by the people and the cast members.
    I truly believe Americans have created theme parks and Americans just do it better the service, the food the atmosphere etc
    If I have to spend money I rather do it right.


    Reach out and find your Happily Ever After
    Jun 7, 2011
    Hong Kong Disneyland CMs are fine but the resort is just lackluster because of the park closing early and there's no Downtown Disney / Disney Spring. Asians see Disney Resorts as just theme parks while the American resorts have many non-park experiences


    Ever which way but loose
    Feb 10, 2008
    When I was there last month, I did not see anything remotely close to issues that you said you had. 1) possibly you did not do enough research to make your day complete 2) your thoughts on Chinese customs and process/observations skills need improvement 3) maybe a Disney park is not what your cut out for.

    yes there is crowds, that’s why I spent the money to stay on property. Communication can be resolved with proper translation app. Also there seems to be some improvement that Disney has made on FastPass returns and uses. But no being able to find a FastPass return, yeah don’t even see how that’s possible. Not trying to put you down, but the reality is nothing like you a stating from what I saw.

  • Connect

    Disney News and Updates

    Get Daily Email Updates