“You’re going to Disneyland? With your little one? Are you out of your mind?!” Many people had this reaction when they heard about our plan for that weekend in July. “Isn’t it better to wait some time – months or even years – to avoid the madness after the opening? And your baby is probably too little to truly have fun there.”
Although our baby was only 10 months old and could not go on many attractions, I was sure he would enjoy the experience. Bright colors, merry melodies, joyful smiles around – this is exactly what babies like. As for the volume of visitors, I doubted that it would decrease by much even in a couple of months or years. After all, it’s the first Disneyland in Mainland China; visiting the park has become a dream for children across the country, and sooner or later, it will surely come true.
So, having prepared for both fun and challenge, we set our minds at ease and headed over.
Our first impression was surprisingly positive. The property that Shanghai Disneyland occupies is large (3.9 square kilometers), which certainly relieves overcrowding. Of course, there were queues – my advice to those visiting with a baby is to avoid them altogether by sticking to the many attractions that do not require queuing. For example, you can wander through the Alice in Wonderland maze or explore Siren’s Revenge pirate ship.
If you do want to try out attractions like TRON or Soaring Over the Horizon, make sure to go with friends or your spouse so you can take turns with the baby. It’s important to note that even if the queues are long, you don’t get bored waiting; queue areas are filled with features related to the attractions that tell visitors interesting facts about the heroes, storylines, etc. The content of these expositions is very rich, and it is definitely a good way to keep visitors entertained.
As for avoiding crowds at restaurants and cafés, it’s best to wait until the typical Chinese lunch or dinnertime is over, and then go. Dining spots in Disneyland are open all day long, so you can get your Mickey Mouse-shaped pizza any time. And a shot of your baby eating it – or at least playing with it – is a must!
Overall, we were pleasantly surprised by the service offered to visitors with babies at Shanghai Disneyland. In the restaurants, we were often asked if we needed a baby chair. At the hotel (we stayed in the Toy Story hotel), a crib was brought to our room immediately after we checked in.
When we wanted to bring our baby to attractions at which strollers were not allowed, we could leave our baby’s transport at one of the parking areas nearby. At the beginning, we were rather concerned about leaving the stroller unguarded, but after several instances of parking it outside with no problems, we stopped worrying (just remember not to leave any valuables inside). Visitors who do not bring their own strollers can use a rental – and it’s a good idea to do so, as the park is vast, so kids get tired quickly while walking around.
We had no regrets about visiting Shanghai Disneyland two weeks after its opening. The atmosphere was great, and we were impressed by how the staff took care of our baby’s needs so that the whole family could enjoy their weekend.
In fact, this was nothing compared to the biggest challenge facing Shanghai Disneyland every day: to maintain the high standards of the Walt Disney Company and uphold its reputation in China. Frankly speaking, the employees of the Shanghai park do it pretty well. So, as all of our challenges were passed on to the park staff, what remained for us was mainly fun.