An American in Shanghai – Top 5 Attractions at Shanghai Disneyland

What are the best attractions at Shanghai Disneyland?

With wait times at over an hour for nearly every attraction (even the ones that wouldn’t warrant it at other parks), it’s a good idea to know what you want to ride and see before you go. Develop your strategy and know where to head first! In our “Ins and Outs” post we laid out the attractions with the longest wait times, but are they necessarily the best? After spending three days in the park, this is the list I came up with.

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Here are the top 5 must experience attractions at Shanghai Disneyland:

Eye of the Storm – Captain Jack’s Stunt Spectacular – Mostly a funny show told all in Mandarin but you don’t need to know the language to enjoy the show. I’m sure it was even more funny if you knew what they were saying, but the physical comedy and stunts performed will impress you without knowing a single word in Chinese. The most impressive part of the show was an aerial battle between Jack Sparrow and the Admiral. Pretty amazing stunt work and unlike any other Disney show I’ve seen. Also nice to put up your feet after walking around the expansive park.

Tarzan: Call of the Jungle – This stage spectacular in Adventure Isle showcases the talent of acrobatic actors who do some impressive stunts. Plate spinning while bending over backward (literally), hanging by a silk rope over the hard stage floor, a duet of acrobatics on a ring suspended high above, back flips while on stilts off a see saw, and lots of flips and handstands made this amazing to watch. It was even more impressive that they did almost every trick without any safety equipment! And wrapped around the animated Tarzan movie for the story. Really fun to watch and more than worth the time.

Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue – I’ve played every version of this attraction all across the world and this is by far the best. With updated technology, blasters that are far more accurate than those anywhere else, and with targets that are more interactive, it was so much fun! The reason it isn’t higher on the list is because a.) they have one in almost every other park in the world – even if it isn’t as good and b.) because it’s missing the big Audio-Animatronic Buzz! I was looking forward to hearing him speak in Mandarin. Apparently, they are replacing the Buzz attraction in Hong Kong with an Ant-Man ride using technology similar to this one. That should be awesome, too.

Tron Lightcycle Power Run – You might be surprised that this didn’t rank at number one. Almost everyone cites this attraction as the one they want to ride the most – and I did, too. And it is worthy of high praise. I would say it’s one of the most fun coasters at any Disney park and it is so much fun! What kid who grew up on TRON didn’t want to ride a Lightcycle? Using a unique launch system and amazing effects, it’s similar to Space Mountain. Most of the ride is in the dark and at the end you race against another set of light cycles using projection technology you’ve seen in other rides. The only problem is its too short! But so well planned and until it’s built at WDW it’s unique to Shanghai.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure – The best attraction of the park by far. Wow. Like all the other pirate rides at other parks around the world, it passes by a restaurant near the beginning of the ride, but then similar to the Ratatouille attraction at Disneyland Paris, it utilizes immersive screens that captivate your attention and make you feel engulfed by the story. The Audio-Animatronics are among the best ever. And it does some amazing things with the story while featuring Jack Sparrow. Just breathtaking. *Note: this ride does NOT have FastPass available but does have Single Rider AND is included among the Premier Access Pass.

You might wonder what this Premier Access Pass is. It’s like buying FastPass. If you can’t get into a ride, you can either buy access individually or purchase a set of them to get on some of the most impacted attractions. While this seems like a great idea on the surface, I hope the other parks don’t start a “pay to play” system like this. It’s what separates Disney from parks like Six Flags, Universal, and Knotts.

One of many “walk-through” attractions, the Alice in Wonderland Maze in Shanghai is not based on the animated feature but on the Tim Burton live action film

There are other unique attractions at Shanghai. Surprisingly, they have a lot of “walk-throughs.” The “Once Upon A Time” Adventure is a walk-through in the castle, but we were SO tired from all the walking and the travel, we skipped it. The wait just to get in was over an hour and then you had to walk up and down staircases. They also had an Alice in Wonderland maze like the one in Disneyland Paris. Unlike Paris, it isn’t based on the animated classic but on the Tim Burton live action film. The Challenge Trails are different than the ones you’d find at Disney California Adventure. They are rope courses made for kids AND adults. Seemed kind of dangerous to be honest. The line for this was huge and while it looked like fun, again it was a LOT of walking up and down on ropes and unstable bridges. Decided again on doing other stuff. Perhaps the walk-throughs are designed to bleed crowds away from the more impressive attractions at a lower cost.

Voyage to the Crystal Grotto is pretty but underwhelming. Like an oversized Storybookland Ride. The figures don’t actually do anything.

Voyage to the Crystal Grotto was unique but not that impressive. Advertised as the first attraction inside a castle, it’s only technically correct. Most of it is like an oversized Storybookland Boat Ride except it was hard to turn around and really see everything. Jet Packs are basically Rocket Jets but with cool open seats. Instead of being encased in a rocket, your legs dangle in the chair and you control the jet packs with a control stick. The line was so long we decided to go on other attractions instead. You might notice a theme here. If it was similar to attractions we had in CA or WDW, we decided to focus our time on the truly unique “E”-ticket rides.  We were lucky to stumble upon the shows mostly because we wanted a walking break, but they were really worth it!

We had a lot of fun in Shanghai but surprisingly there weren’t more unique attractions. They are in the midst of building their own Toy Story Land, but it looks very similar to the one in Hong Kong (which features rides you could go on at pretty much any carnival in the states). I had a blast and totally happy we had the chance to go. I hope this guide will help you decide what to see when you’re there.

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