Going to Shanghai…A Different Disney

You probably knew the opening of the long-delayed Shanghai Disney Resort was coming soon. June 16, in fact. But had you planned on being there?

Probably not.

But it’s not as far-fetched as you might think.

And we have reasons for saying that.

Good reasons, we think.

We understand: you may be skeptical, no?

Be real, right?

Considering distance and expense…US park-goers are not expected to be common visitors at the China opening or any time soon after that.

Consider: it’s almost 8,065 miles from Orlando to Shanghai, China.

If you got on a non-stop plane, it might take about 16 hours and 35 minutes.

And the cost?

Wait a minute, here.

Yes, it’s a long ways off.

You can get there from here

But not so expensive, after all.

Not with what used to be the biggest cost…now getting lower all the time.

That’s airfare.

We’re not travel agents but a look at discounted fares from CheapOair turned up flights from JFK in New York City to Shanghai, China, for $672.35, round-trip.

Of course, that discount price on Hainan Airlines involved one-other stop…

Which would be a couple more hours than the direct 16-+ hours in the air.

By any standards, that is a long air trip.

But still, it is not unrealistic to think of getting to China and back for less than $1,000.

That major cost dwarfs other prices.

Disney admission tickets in China cost less than Disney World tickets here. Hotel prices are still being worked out but should be comparable.

So are you ready to go now?

Even if you don’t want to or can’t make the trip, what would you find if you did go?

What you’d find in Shanghai Disney

You would find many similar things if you bought Disney World Orlando tickets or the Disney California version.

You would find a familiar “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride, and even a “Star Wars” version (still a coming attraction in Florida and California). And even a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique.

As for the later (this all sounds familiar, doesn’t it?) Disney says of the China version of Bibbidi:

“You will feel yourself instantly transported to a far-away time and place—located within Enchanted Storybook Castle, near Fantasyland village. As you enter its majestic halls, your family can join in the fun, from selecting your new hairstyle to helping pick out a princess dress for the perfect Disney PhotoPass portrait.”

But you would also find many differences.

A few hints:

Lines, for one example.

They may do them differently there.

And Cinderella’s version is fine but China will have the world’s largest Disney castle.

And the familiar Mickey, Goofy, etc., characters: More of them.

Different ones.

Add Marvel comic book figures.

And what do you do when there’s snow in China? (Yes, it happens).

And some freebies not exactly found here in Florida.

So for those who can’t make the trip to China in June or later, here are some things to expect from it.

What to expect even if you can’t make it

Let’s start with admission prices, which you can find at the park’s web site: www.shanghaidisneyresort.com.

That tells you initial prices for “regular” tickets is 370 Yuan or 499 Yuan for “peaks.”

There are also some discounts for children and seniors. Infants are free. There’s a five percent discount for two-day tickets.

All fine but what you really want to know is just how much is a Yuan, which is officially the currency in China?

It varies, as you probably know.

But a recent check was that 100 Yuan was $15.35.

That is less than $77 for just under 499 Yuans.

Less than $100 for a single-day ticket.

But before anyone gets euphoric about the price, Disney is expected to reveal more pricing information soon.

Higher prices, perhaps… or even more likely to happen (just as we’ve found in other parks).

In Orlando and other parks, this Disney World Ticket business has been a subject of rising interest as costs have escalated.

Disney in China is offering both a regular ticket price and a peak price.

Disney tells us why or their explanation: “This is one way we are managing the extraordinary demand we anticipate for our park in order to deliver a world-class experience for our guests. Our ticketing options could help spread out visitation throughout the year, putting choices in the hands of the guests. To avoid days with high demand, guests may want to consider visiting during our regular priced periods.”

So how much will it cost to dine in China or more importantly, stay in a Disney hotel?

Prices for the two Disney properties were not announced at this time.

The Disney site said they would come later.

Hotels, food prices all similar to US

But all indications were that they would be reasonable, and comparable to other properties.

To find more about the whys of that, we need to provide some background on Shanghai Disney.

Disney officials interviewed since the park’s announcement have repeatedly said it would have familiar US elements but also Chinese influences to make it “native” or appealing to Chinese visitors.

“We’re building something that’s authentically Disney and distinctly Chinese,” Disney Chairman Robert Iger said of the park.

“It definitely will be Disneyland in China, but we’ll obviously be respectful of the Chinese culture and relatable to the people of China.”

This is the sixth Disney resort in the world. Disney operates parks in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong. This is Disney’s 6th theme park.

The park is the biggest Disney has ever built.

The cost is a staggering $5.5 billion.

We mention this because Disney officials are aware of past mistakes.

The size, for example.

The Shanghai park will be larger than ever: over 936 acres, which is three times the size of Hong Kong Disneyland.

There were a lot of delays.

The park was originally set to open in 2015.

The delays may have been positive because Disney had more time to learn from its mistakes with other new parks.

What Disney learned from other parks

Disneyland Paris opened in 1992 to French criticism of the lack of wine on its menus; Shanghai will have plenty of local food at various prices, according to news reports.

The 310-acre Hong Kong Disneyland was dinged at its debut as too small; Shanghai will be three times the size.

And the Paris park, with seven on-site hotels with a total 5,765 rooms, suffered from a lodging glut; Shanghai will open with two Disney-run hotels totaling 1,220 rooms.

Observers say Disney learned all this from other parks, particularly the point to understand what their guests wanted: wine in France, local and familiar food in China.

Which actually turns out to be…

…more of the same.

That’s clearly the case when it comes to rides and attractions.

You will know these rides

In the long-time favorite, “Pirates,” Captain Jack takes you on a journey for sunken plunder as you encounter pirates, mermaids, and the savage “Kraken.” You travel through the “Caves of Misfortune” before hitting the briny depths.

Shiver your timbers, as the cliché has it.

Star Wars Launch Bay is another China choice: where “you encounter iconic characters—including one from Star Wars: The Force Awakens.” Your choices here include the light side of meeting droids like C-3PO for pictures, visiting the Death Star’s Throne room to meet Darth Vader or seeing a cinematic depiction of the Skywalker story.

Not all the attractions are the same, but some principles still apply.

New rides also will include roller coasters, such as “Roaring Mountain,” a so-called perilous river journey” where a crocodile-like beast comes out of the roaring unknown.”

Another new attraction is termed “The action-packed world of Marvel.” It’s a multimedia mission briefing that explores the Marvel universe and introduced its iconic heroes.

Part of the attraction includes lessons on how to draw the characters (from a real comic book artist in the Marvel Comic Academy).

Visitors will also get to access Tony Stark’s lab to view the evolution of his “Iron Man” suits in his Hall of Armor—and virtually try on an Iron Man suit yourself.

Spider-Man and Captain America and other Marvel characters are promised to be poised nearby.

This connection with Marvel requires some explanation.

Here’s why Marvel can now be found at Disney

According to what is available online, Universal’s Islands of Adventure is the only place where Marvel characters and attractions can exist within a theme park east of the Mississippi River.

This agreement was signed before Disney owned Marvel and was also when Universal Studios Florida was controlled by its parent company MCA.

But it obviously does not apply to the new China park.

So “The Marvel Cinematic Universe” roster will also introduce some new movies that are currently being filmed or are in development, including Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War and Marvel’s Doctor Strange. “

“The entire slate of new films will be in movie theaters—with release dates scheduled from 2016 to 2019,” Disney says.

And that biggest and tallest Disney castle in history?

It’s termed by Disney this way:

“A fairy-tale world resplendent with pomp, circumstance and pure pixie dust. Truly the crowning jewel of Shanghai Disneyland, this is the only royal residence that celebrates all the Disney Princesses. Everywhere you look, their stories unfold.”

  • Celebrate the largest Disney castle in history—a fairy-tale world resplendent with pomp, Read More

The castle will have mosaics depicting all four seasons through the tales of Tiana, Merida, Rapunzel, Elsa and Anna. An illuminated marquee reveals motifs attributed to Belle, Cinderella and Snow White.

Castle includes dinner, more

The castle will include dining at the Royal Banquet Hall, character greetings, a “Voyage to the Crystal Grotto,” and ala Disney US, fireworks displays.

Two free new areas include “Disneytown.” It is set in the early 20th century. It has what Disney calls “good, great food, and the best of times.”

It’s just outside of the park.

It’s a collection of restaurants and entertainment from strolling musicians and others.

Disney’s description:

“Indulge your senses at The Lakeshore as you come upon waterfront views and delicious dining opportunities. Or, season your day or night at Spice Alley, where local life spills out onto the street and communal tables create an irresistible atmosphere.”

The area includes shops.

No admission tickets are needed for Disneytown, but tickets are required for performances of “The Lion King” at the Walt Disney Grand Theater there.

Another free area is the Wishing Star Park.

It’s geared for the entire family with what Disney calls “a chance to savor nature….amid peaceful scenery…and lush greenery.”

Visitors can hike along several miles of trails.

Weather report: not always sunny

Which brings us to the weather.

Even those with the sunniest disposition will not always find this to be the most balmy climate.

But “Rain or Shine: You’re Good to go,” Disney says.

“Though Shanghai’s climate shifts throughout the year, the theme park’s many attractions, entertainment, restaurants and shops will continue to remain open—rain or shine, hot or cold,” according to Disney’s site.

On its site, it says Shanghai has a climate with four distinct seasons where, depending upon the time of year, it can be very wet and humid or quite chilly. Temperatures range from winter lows of about 50 degrees Fahrenheit to summers in the high 80s.

Temperatures in the hot summer months are hot and humid, like Florida. But warmer clothing is needed for the winters.

Snow is rare but it does happen.

Says Disney:

“At night, temperatures can drop below freezing so be sure to bundle up! You may need rain gear—particularly from June to September.”

Just out of curiosity, perhaps, you might wonder what Disney tells would-be guests inviting them to this park in far-off China.

And how it came about:

“It came about when my daughters were very young and Saturday was always daddy’s day,” the park’s web site says quoting Walt himself.

“So I’d take them to the merry-go-round and different places and as I’d sit while they rode the merry-go-round, I felt that there should be something built where parents and children could have fun together….But it all started from a daddy with 2 daughters wondering where he could take them where he could have a little fun with them, too.”

And Disney itself says that “after all, the Shanghai park was designed not only for China but guests of every kind.”

So from a practical sense, when is the best time to go?

What to bring and when to go

Disney suggests, among other items to bring:

  • T-shirts (both long- and short-sleeved)

  • Light sweater

  • Lightweight rain jacket

  • Jeans or long pants

  • Shorts

  • Casual dress/skirt (optional)

  • Hat

  • Closed-toe shoes

  • Sturdy-soled walking shoes

  • Medication

  • Camera/video camera

  • Extra batteries or charger for camera

  • Sunglasses

  • Sunscreen

  • Umbrella

  • Toiletries

  • Electric plug adapter

    When you think about it, this list is certainly similar to what would be recommended for tickets to California or Orlando Disney.

    And the best time to visit?

    “From September through November, temperatures are mild during the day and cooler at night, making it a popular time to visit,” Disney says.

    And oh yes, if you go, bring a book of translations.

    Mandarin is the preferred language. ###