Visiting Shanghai Disneyland was quite the experience!  I had the option to visit when it first opened in 2016 but passed up the opportunity because i really had no desire to fight the crowds but a year after it opened and just before i was leaving China in July of 2017 i went with the team i was leading as a team building and a farewell.

As i wandered through the park i was struck by a few things. I have visited Disneyland in the US and Paris and both parks were the same for the most part.  But in China well it definitely was Disneyland but i found myself doing a double take many times throughout the day.

You see many usual Disney park features have been redesigned or are absent from Shanghai Disneyland.

  • The park does not feature a steam railroad surrounding the park’s perimeter nor does it have an earthen berm to obscure the outside world from guest view.
  • Instead of central spoked-hub, the center of the park features a collection of Chinese zodiac gardens called the Gardens of Imagination.
  • And can you believe Main Street U.S.A is named Mickey Avenue!
  • I found myself wandering around looking for some of my favorite attractions like Space Mountain and It’s a Small World but never found them.
  • Some of the traditional-themed lands such as Advertureland were re-imagined into Adventure Isle, whereas other lands, such as Frontierland does not exist.

After visiting i decided to look into this and found out that some things were excluded to avoid criticism of cultural imperialism. The park also had a ton more restaurant seating and lots of picnic areas which you don’t typically see at Disneyland.  Oh and there seemed to be less rides and lots more live entertainment.  This last point was a disappointment to me as i love the thrill rides 🙂 and as i do not speak Chinese the live shows were a bit of a mystery! As expected and even a year later the crowds were crazy and i really only was able to go on a few rides given the extensive lines and waiting times.

Even with the changes I still experienced the same feelings of joy and wonder that Disneyland always brings me.  Definitely worth the visit but one visit was enough for me 🙂

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