The Shanghai Disney Resort is a vast interrelated complex that provides an amazing backdrop for a vacations.
The Shanghai Disney Resort is made up of two hotels (Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Toy Story Hotel), Disneytown – the shopping and eating district, Wishing Star Park and, of course, Shanghai Disneyland. The entire resort spans nearly 1,000 acres and is serviced by its own metro stop. While large, the resort is not overwhelming and the elements are well connected with the exception of Toy Story Hotel – more about that later.
Shanghai Disneyland – the center of the Shanghai Disney Resort universe!
Let’s start with the reason you are reading this post (the reason the Nerd wrote the post) and the marquee attraction of the Shanghai Disney Resort. This park is spectacular and it is huge. And we do mean huge! It’s easy to log 12-15 miles per day walking around the park.
It boasts 30 attractions including several that are exclusive to the Shanghai Disney Resort and unlike anything else in the Disney arsenal.
- Camp Discovery is an interactive ropes course that takes guests over bridges, around waterfalls and through some of the best themed trails anywhere
- Voyage to the Crystal Grotto repurposes Jungle Cruise style boats in a Fantasyland setting as guests are treated to scenes from classic Disney films before entering the grotto
- TRON Lightcycle Power Run is an indoor/outdoor roller coaster that reaches 60mph and is coming to Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in 2022. You can read our Nerdy review of the Shanghai ride here.
- Pirates of the Caribbean Battle for the Sunken Treasure combines some of the most technologically advanced elements of any Disney ride and, in our humble Nerdy opinion, grabbed the mantle for best theme park attraction in the world.
Additionally, the park has entertainment throughout the park from Character Selfie Spots, to characters roaming about, play areas, and shows. Although generally in Mandarin, the shows are a hoot and a lot of fun to experience. The Nerds are partial to Frozen: A Sing-A-Long Celebration. We always enjoy this show at Hollywood Studios at Disney World, but sitting and singing with a crowd in a different language is an experience to remember!
Over in Treasure Cove, the only Pirates themed land at a Disney park, Eye of the Storm: Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular is a blast – even the pre-show is funny and engaging for those of us who do not speak the local language.
By far, the most popular entertainment at the Shanghai Disney Resort is Ignite the Dream – A Nighttime Spectacular of Magic and Light.
There is much more to see and experience throughout the resort.
Shanghai Disney Resort’s Disneytown is the shopping and dining district. It has different names around the world like Downtown Disney (Anaheim), Disney Springs (Orlando), and Disney Village (Paris).
More than 15 restaurants and eateries dot the village streets of Disneytown and compliment the 20+ shops including staples like LEGO and, of course, World of Disney Store. Disneytown is also home to Shanghai Disney Resort’s Walt Disney Grand Theatre which has hosted Mandarin productions of the the broadway musicals Lion King and Beauty and the Beast.
Shanghai Disney Resort officially lists Giant Donald Duck as an attraction. While the Nerds are unsure of this official designation, we do enjoy the 36-foot tall American Pekin (yes, Donald is an American Pekin – a breed whose origins are from China!) posing for guests.
Although not well publicized, there is an entrance to Shanghai Disneyland just passed the Walt Disney Grand Theatre that leads guests into the heart of Gardens of Imagination, all but bypassing Mickey Avenue and halfway to Tomorrowland. This entrance is exclusively used for early entry for Shanghai Disney Resort hotel guests in the morning, but is generally open to all guests as the day wears on.
When You Wish Upon a Star (park)
Tucked between Shanghai Disneyland and the Shanghai Disneyland hotel is Wishing Star Park, home to Wishing Star Lake. Wishing Star Park is the antithesis of Shanghai Disneyland. Quiet, serene and peaceful, this park offers nature and calm in the middle of the Shanghai Disney Resort. On one side of the park/lake is Disneytown and the entrance to Shanghai Disneyland and on the opposite is the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel.
Guests can take a boat across the lake or walk on a path that surrounds the entire lake. A complete lap is a 2.2 mile journey (about half that if walking from the hotel to Disneyland) through nature.
There are interesting areas to see and explore on your stroll in addition to flowers, plants, trees, birds, ducks, and docks. On the circuitous route – try it during the day and when lighted at night – guests will find Dragonfly Playground for the Nerdlings, the 900-seat outdoor Starlight Amphitheater, the Bridge of Happiness (it looks cool lit up at night), a Family Mart to grab some snacks or drinks on the go, public restrooms and, amazingly, these lounge chairs for giants.
Wishing Star Park, just like everything else at the Shanghai Disney Resort is spotless and well-maintained. Access to the park is primarily limited to guests of the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel via the back of the property and through two guarded (more like supervised) gates on the opposite side. One on the east side near the Metro and one on the far west side at the outskirts of Disneytown.
There is a ferry running between the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel and Disneytown at the entrance to Shanghai Disneyland. If you time it right, this is by far the most efficient way to get between these two destinations.
The Hotels of Shanghai Disney Resort: Toy Story Hotel and Shanghai Disneyland Hotel
Currently, there are two hotels at the Shanghai Disney Resort. Toy Story Hotel is akin to a Value Resort at Disney World in look, feel and pricing. It is close enough to walk and easily accessible by bus though it feels a bit disconnected from the rest of the resort. On the other hand, the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel debuted along with the park, is well incorporated into the layout of the resort separated from Shanghai Disneyland by Wishing Star Park / Wishing Star Lake and is a deluxe 5-star establishment with an upscale Pixie Hollow / Fairie vibe.
Shanghai Disney Resort Recap
Overall, the Shanghai Disney Resort is spectacular. It is clean – sparkling clean – and there are always helpful and smiling employees nearby. So many employees! The resort has certainly leveraged China’s low cost of labor and although many do not speak much English (very different from Hong Kong where English is an official language), they are all extremely nice, eager to assist and quick with a hello (ni hao). We found a few exceptions with the non-Disney employees of Disneytown where the service was not bad, but paled in comparison to the rest of the resort.