All Disney fans living in China will for sure want to visit this theme park — here are the tips you will want before you magical day in Shanghai Disney!
Pretty much all of our ILP China volunteers were thrilled to find out that Disneyland was coming to Shanghai. This huge city is already a favorite ILP vacation (who doesn’t love soaking up the sites at the Bund?) so adding the chance to go to to Disneyland here made Shanghai even better.
See all the adventures you can pack in with our China Destination Guide
and think about spending a whole semester living there
To help make your trip the very best, we need to fill you in on some tips before your first trip:
- How To Get (The Cheapest) Tickets
- Download The App
- How Can I Buy My Tickets?
- Here’s The Deal With Fast Passes
- How Many Days Do I Need To See It All?
- All About The Food
- Instagram These Treats
- How To Get To The Park
- Insider Tips (Plus Park Hours)
How To Get (The Cheapest) Tickets
Shanghai Disney’s tickets are cheaper than in California which is great news for you (though we’ll get to things like treats and fast passes later, which will add to your final ticket price).
Prices are broken up by how many days you want to be in the park. There are 1 day and 2 day passes, and the price depends on what day you are in the park. There are peak days and regular days and peak holiday days — there’s a price difference for each of those 3 categories.
Disneyland changes their prices, and you can check the updates on this link, but right now here’s what things cost in US dollars:
- 1-day regular ticket — $63
- 1-day peak ticket — $91
(Typically Saturdays and Sundays, plus some holidays)
- 1-day peak holiday ticket — $105
(Chinese New Year holidays and a holiday period in the fall)
2-day tickets are available but prices aren’t posted online (you can figure out the prices via the app, which we talk about below). Typically, 2-day tickets are double the 1-day prices, with a 10% discount.
Unlike tons and tons and tons of places in China, there is no student discount (you can swing a student discount at most major attractions, just not Disneyland).
Download The App
You will want this to buy your tickets, to handle fast passes, to scope out wait times for all the rides, and to help you get around the park. It’s a lifesaver. Find the free Shanghai Disney Resort app for IOS and Android, create an account and log in. Now you’re set!
You can buy all your tickets on the app with an American card.
How Can I Buy My Tickets?
You have a couple of options when it comes to buying your tickets. You can buy them at the park at the gate, but they do sell out (plus you'll have to stand in line and eat into the time you could be spending on rides) so if that’s your last option get to the park before it opens to wait in line! But really, that should be a last, last, last resort because you can easily get tickets via the app.
All you’ll do is download the free Shanghai Disney Resort app for IOS and Android like we mentioned above, create an account and log in. When you open the app after logging in, click “buy tickets” on the main screen.
Then, choose how many people you are buying for (1 person, 2 people, etc) and when you want to go (you can only book 1 month in advance).
If you are visiting Disney with a group, that's great and you can buy the passes for everyone in your group on one phone for easily entering the park. Just make sure that you know you'll be all entering the park at the same time.
The person who bought the tickets on their phone will scan their phone at the entrance check in (that's right — you don't have to stand in another line to pick up your tickets, you can just go right to the main entrance line!) and that will allow everyone in your group in together.
Here’s The Deal With Fast Passes
Fast Passes here work differently than the California Disneyland. Only some rides are available on the fast passes; Right now, according to Shanghai Disney, 7 rides are fast-pass eligible.
Free Fast Passes
Basically, you can get free fast passes for a few different rides, but here is how that works — you can get a free fast pass for a ride, go on that ride, then come back and get another free fast pass. The problem with this is that the passes run out because they are very limited at Shanghai Disney, so if it’s a busy day, you won’t be able to use the free fast pass. You MUST get there early and go directly to claim your free fast pass. On a busy day they're usually gone by 9 AM.
You can also buy a fast pass for a certain ride; so for example, you’d pay around $18 for a fast pass for the TRON ride, then pay another $18 to ride the Pirates of the Caribbean. Make sense? The prices for fast passes do rise for Peak days, so it might be more like $24.
A Set Of 7
There’s also an option to buy a fast pass for each fast pass ride in a set of 7; that way you can ride each fast pass ride once. The prices do fluctuate but for regular days, plan on paying $75 per person or around $105 per person for peak days. Holidays may be as much as $150.
As a head’s up, these prices are constantly changing and Disneyland doesn’t really like to publish them. You’ll be able to get a better price point on the app a few days before your actual trip but these prices give you an idea so you can budget.
Are They Worth It?
It’s obviously up to you, but the lines can get LONG in Disneyland … maybe 2-3 hours per ride on some days. Yikes. That means without a fast pass, you might only get to ride 3-4 rides the whole day tops, when you factor in time for food and walking around to each ride. If you check the app and see high wait times, a fast pass of some sort is going to be worth your time if you want to ride more rides.
Your fast passes can be purchased via the app (you can also “link” tickets together so only 1 person in your group will need to scan their fast pass for your whole party’s fast passes once you get in line).
Decide this in advance! These passes sell out, even the set of 7 and the pay-per-ride versions. If you wait until you're in the park and tired of waiting in a long line, there's a potential that you might not even be able to buy a fast pass anymore.
You can check the status via the app, but we recommend looking at the wait times a day or two before your trip (or a similar weekend) and seeing what the wait times are so you can plan on buying a fast pass when you buy your tickets. The app sometimes says they are sold out, but if you keep refreshing you might get lucky and see it pop up again. If you're going to opt to pay for any fast passes, purchase them on your app at least the day before you go. If you're going to try to get one or two of the free fast passes, you better plan to get there EARLY. You'll want to be in line to enter the park likely an hour before it opens.
Also something to note; the lines for the rides with a fast pass are very short. You will probably be able to walk right on the ride, or only wait 15-25 minutes. The free options are the most popular in China so those are gone quick. If you're able and willing to do the paid fast pass version you're going to essentially avoid all lines all — it's pretttttty amazing. If you want to do pretty much every ride in one day, opt for the 7 fast pass plan and you'll be jumping around from ride to ride with zero stress.
You can also opt to do the "single rider" to cut down on the time you're waiting in line if you're on a budget and don't want to pay for fast pass. If the line is 2 hours, you may only have to wait 1 hour!
How Many Days Do I Need To See It All?
Especially if you have fast passes, you can see the whole park and ride all of the rides in 1 day, but of course you could spend longer. 2-Day passes are a better approach if you don’t want to spend the money on a fast-pass so you can wait in line and use 2 days to ride all of the rides (but there is so much to do in Shanghai, it might not be worth spending most of your time hanging out in Disneyland when you could be exploring this iconic city).
All About The Food
A major perk about Disneyland in Shanghai is the food — there are so many yummy places to eat in the theme park which is a big reason volunteers love it (one you’ve been living in China for a semester you will want to visit the Cheesecake Factory, I can almost promise you). There’s also a Starbucks, plus a couple dozen eateries and cafes serving Asian, Chinese, Italian, Western and other foods. Head to Barbosa’s Bounty for ribs and BBQ chicken or the Pinocchio Village Kitchen for pizza and other favorites.
The Disneyland App has a list and map view making it easy to choose and see where to eat — the app also outlines the price range (1-50 Yuan, 51-100 Yuan, etc). You can also view this list online.
Instagram These Treats
The treats get their own section — we know you love all the Mickey-shaped treats so we want to tell you all about them. Favorites include Mickey shaped pretzels with a honey-mustard dipping sauce, Mickey shaped rice krispie treats, Mickey shaped vanilla ice cream dipped in chocolate, the classic churro, caramel popcorn, Mickey shaped waffles and these cute Mickey donuts (plus a few other favs).
Head’s up on the these white sprinkle donuts; they are very photogenic but not the best tasting, unless you love sorta dry and tasteless donuts. I mean, do it for the ‘gram, but if you want a tasty treat, I’d opt for the ice cream or the churro.
How To Get To The Park
The metro is by far the easiest and most convenient way to get go.
It takes about an hour to get to the Disneyland park if you’re staying in downtown Shanghai (by popular tourist attractions like The Bund), so just make sure to account for that in your plans. If you've ever been to Disneyland you know it's super important to get there right as the park opens to really maximize your time, so it's going to be an early morning for you! There is a Disneyland Resort you can stay at but just know that it's going to be the most expensive option, plus then you’ll be far away from everything else you're going to want to see in Shanghai. In my opinion the best option is to stay in a hostel downtown and plan on getting up early.
The metro is very easy to ride in Shanghai which we (as tourists who don't speak mandarin) really appreciate! You'll just ride line 11 all the way to the end of the line — the last stop is Disney. From there it's just a 5 minute walk to the park entrance (don't worry, there's plenty of signs but you can also just follow the crowd).
Head’s up: you’ll need to switch trains in order to stay on line 11 a couple of times towards the very end. Don’t stress, but it’s just something to be aware of. Don’t worry, if you’re not sure you can just double check by asking someone if that’s the right way to Disney. When I went to the park I just assumed I'd be staying on the same train the whole time since it was just line 11, so I wasn't paying attention, but some friendly locals who knew I'd probably be going to Disney (it's pretty easy to spot a tourist in China) pointed out that I needed to switch trains. Thank you to my friendly strangers!
The app Metroman man can help you plot your route; just select which metro stop you are at (or the closet one to your hostel) then select the Disney Resort stop — the app will tell you what times the trains leave, how much the fare costs and what time you will arrive. It takes out all the guesswork of getting there.
Tips for leaving the park:
When the park is closing, there's obviously going to be large crowds leaving the park at the same time which makes for a long line to get your metro ticket home. We suggest buying your one-way ticket to the park and your ticket home at the same time to avoid this. But if you're in Shanghai for a few days, I'd actually recommend getting a 1-3 day pass to use which ends up being way more convenient than riding one-way tickets for your entire vacation.
Insider Tips (Plus Park Hours)
Wear Really Comfortable Walking Shoes
The park is huge (bigger than Anaheim Disney). There aren’t more rides than the one in California but it’s a lot more spread out, so you will do a ton of walking.
Also, there is a rope course as a part of the park, but you have to have tennis shoes on, or at least closed-toe and closed-heel shoes in order to do it.
Go Early — Right When It Opens, Or Before
The park usually opens at 8:00 and closes at 20:00 (that’s 8:00 PM), but check hours for holidays. Especially if you want the free fast passes or are buying your tickets in person for some reason, be there before it opens to wait in line.
There are ATMs if needed, but it's better to have cash for your treats rather than having to run around looking for the nearest ATM machine when you run out. Many treats will you run you around 30 yuan, but that adds up pretty quick when you're on your 5th churro. Ya feel me?
Buy Your Food There
You cannot take any outside food or snacks into the park. They check your bag before entering and will throw your food away if you try to sneak it in. Water bottles are OK, but plan on just buying your meals inside the park.
It’s Expensive, But Fun
Shanghai Disney will probably be the most expensive thing you do in China…this country is very, very inexpensive. Even some of your bigger vacations, you most likely won’t be spending this much in a single day. Just keep that in mind when planning out your spending money for your semester in China.
Rides We Love
TRON is probably the most popular ride (and one of the favorites, so plan on a 2-3 hour line on most days!). It's also super cool to do at night, because it lights up. We’re also fans of the updated Pirates of the Caribbean Ride, and the Roaring Rapids ride on very hot days (you get a little wet which feels amazing). Plus Soarin is somehow even more magical when you're already traveling the world.
Ever considered spending a semester abroad in China?
There's your insider's guide to Shanghai Disney — you're totally set for a day at Disneyland ... but are you set for a day in China? Come volunteer with ILP! You'll be set up with an ILP group of college-aged volunteers, plus a peer leader called a head teacher who has taught with ILP before. You guys will be able to teach English together, live together and travel together on weekends and on vacation days. Not a bad deal, right?
Here are some quick ILP facts to know, plus the chance to get your questions answered by chatting with a representative: