After years of anticipation and a multi-billion dollar budget, Shanghai Disneyland was finally opened to the public on June 16, 2016. It’s the first Disney property overseas to largely reflect the culture of the country it’s in — this new park is not merely a Disneyland in China, it’s a Disneyland built for the Chinese people. In addition to all new food menus, hotels, and sections, Shanghai Disneyland has some incredible rides and attractions that can’t be experienced anywhere else. Here are the top 10 new features at Shanghai Disneyland.
1. Alice in Wonderland Maze
Those familiar with Disney’s other parks will know of the teacup ride inspired by Alice in Wonderland, Disney’s 1951 feature film. Shanghai Disneyland has the Alice in Wonderland Maze, an incredible feature that’s based on the live action Alice in Wonderland movie from 2010. Tim Burton put his unique spin on the classic tale and one of the most memorable characters from the film is the Queen of Hearts, played by Helena Bonham Carter. At the center of the Alice in Wonderland Maze is a huge head depicting none other than Burton’s version of the Queen of Hearts. Sparkling lights, lush gardens, red tile hearts, and plenty of whimsical elements make this one of Shanghai Disneyland’s stand out features. The area hosts daily tea parties, a hedge maze, and several garden areas.
2. Jet Packs Complex
Jet Packs is a futuristic ride that pays tribute to Walt Disney’s fascination with aviation. True, there are aviation themed rides at Magic Kingdom and Tokyo Disneyland, but neither of those parks has the technology of this ride. A huge orb with 16 mechanical arms holds two riders at a time and sends them soaring through the air. The ride spins, allows passengers to levitate, and looks like a breathtaking experience.
3. Marvel Universe
Disney has a lock on licensing as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes now, but previously established deals prior to Disney’s involvement with the franchise have resulted in famous Marvel characters being absent from its parks. At Shanghai Disneyland, visitors get to see Captain America, Spider-Man, and Iron Man in all their glory. Marvel Universe is an amazing gallery that has props, costumes, and tech from the MCU films, and there’s also an attraction within it where visitors can learn to draw their favorite characters, the Marvel Comic Academy. In Tony Stark’s lab, there’s a section that contains a tribute to the evolution of the Iron Man suit, which Shanghai Disneyland’s visitors can virtually try on.
4. Enchanted Storybook Castle
Other Disneyland Parks have their own castles, but none feature as many princesses as the one at Shanghai Disneyland. The Enchanted Storybook Castle doesn’t just feature Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty, as is the case at other parks. Instead, it has gorgeous mosaics that depict all of the princesses from Snow White and Belle to Tiana and Merida. The detail that went into the park’s landmark is incredible, and it’s also the largest castle at any Disney park thus far. Rides there include Once Upon a Time, Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, and then there’s the Ignite the Dream nighttime display. If you’ve seen it at other Disney parks, you’ll understand just why the display at Shanghai Disneyland tops them all. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7NoJDMXaLQ]
5. Toy Story Hotel
Never before has a Disney resort had an entire hotel devoted to one film, but that changed with the opening of Shanghai Disneyland and Toy Story Hotel. If you’ve seen the movies, you’ll recognize all of the neat details incorporated into this fantastically fun resort. Toy Story Hotel is vibrant, awe-inspiring, and of course there’s plenty of eats on-site that reflect the theme. The Sunnyside Cafe and Sunnyside Market at Toy Story Hotel pay homage to the Sunnyside Preschool featured in the movie Toy Story 3.
6. Roaring Rapids
Yes, there are other rapids rides at Disney’s other parks, but what sets this one apart is its hulking animatronic creatures that make the ride even more fun. The scenery is also quite different, and the ride is meant to reflect the Chinese people’s connection to and fascination with dinosaurs. Roaring Rapids also contains the first ropes course in Disney parks history, which is set high above the ride.
7. TRON Lightcycle Power Run
The TRON Lightcycle Power Run is probably one of the most talked about rides at Shanghai Disneyland — it’s been hyped beyond belief, and for good reason. Riders sit on what looks like a vehicle from the movie, get strapped in, and race around a track at high speed. Of course, the awesome lighting, tech, twists, and turns incorporated into this ride only make it even more fantastic.
8. Garden of the Twelve Friends
The Garden of the Twelve Friends at Shanghai Disneyland pays tribute to the Chinese zodiac. It’s a whimsical, beautifully detailed area of the park where visitors can look at 12 huge panels. Here are the featured Disney characters and what they symbolize in the zodiac:
– Remy from Ratatouille represents The Rat
– Babe the Blue Ox from Paul Bunyan is The Ox
– Tigger is The Tiger
– Thumper from Bambi is The Rabbit
– Mushu from Mulan is The Dragon
– Kaa from The Jungle Book is The Snake
– Maximus from Tangled is The Horse
– The lambs from Mary Poppins’ Jolly Holiday sequence represent The Sheep
– Aladdin’s Abu is The Monkey
– Alan-A-Dale from Robin Hood is The Rooster
– Pluto is The Dog
– The Toy Story franchise’s Hamm is The Pig
9. Treasure Cove
Treasure Cove is an amazing pirate-themed area that is unlike anything ever seen at any other Disney park. It hosts a number of rides, features, and a stunt show called the Captain Jack Stunt Spectacular. Of course, the inspiration for Treasure Cove is the hugely successful Disney franchise Pirates of the Caribbean.
10. New Pirates of the Caribbean Ride
Perhaps one of the most show-stopping attractions at Shanghai Disneyland is the super high tech Pirates of the Caribbean ride. It’s nothing like the one at other parks, which will probably make Disney fans in other locations jealous. The Pirates movies are well loved in China, and the ride is all about showcasing sequences from the films. Riders enter a boat that spins, travels, sideways, and provides thrilling views. You really do have to see it in action to understand why this is such an incredible part of the park.