In this sixth installment of my Shanghai Disney Resort trip report, we are going to explore the magic of Fantasyland. In case you missed any of the previous parts, I have provided the links for you, below:
Shanghai, September 2016 Trip Report on Two Lost Boys
I shared my experience travelling to Shanghai, arriving at the airport, getting to the resort, and then visiting the Disney Store in the city.
Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part One on Character Central
In part one of my main Disney report I shared with you all of our experiences at the two Shanghai Disney Resort hotels, Disneytown, and character dining at Lumiere's Kitchen.
Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Two on Character Central
In this report I took an in-depth look at Mickey Avenue, with over 230 photos of all the details on the little entrance street to the park.
Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Three on Character Central
In this report I took an in-depth look at the Gardens of Imagination, Mickey's Storybook Express parade, the Golden Fairytale Fanfare castle show and the Ignite the Dream nighttime spectacular, with over 210 photos of all the details.
Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Four on Character Central
In this report I shared with you the futuristic world of Tomorrowland, with over 150 photos.
Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Five on Character Central
In the fifth part of my report, I shared with you our time at Enchanted Storybook Castle and the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, with over 140 photos.
Standing with your back to the castle, facing into Fantasyland, you discover that the view isn't quite the same as the other parks. There is no Castle Courtyard, Carousel or Sword in the Stone (the Carousel is in the Gardens of Imagination, as I discussed in a previous post). In fact, you have to make a right or a left to get anywhere else in the land - and in this instance we are going to turn left.
To the left of the castle is a small cart named Fantasy Faire.
Continuing along the pathway we pass by the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto on the right (which I discussed in the previous part of this report), and come to Pinocchio's Village Kitchen on our left. The architecture here is reminiscent of some of the styles found at Fantasyland in both Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.
Pinocchio's Village Kitchen is a vast counter service restaurant, which serves pizza and other general fast food items. We ate here once during our trip and while I didn't have any complaints, it wouldn't be amongst my first choices of places to return to.
Next door to Pinocchio's Village Kitchen is a small window location called Fairy Godmother's Cupboard, which serves pork puff balls and pepperoni pizza.
Adjoining Fairy Godmother's Cupboard we encounter Mickey and Minnie's Mercantile. It isn't a bad store, and has some cute details, but really it just sells generic merchandise.
Another store is next door to Mickey and Minnie's Mercantile, this one called Be Our Guest Boutique. This store, like the previous one, has some nice details, including a magical portrait that transforms Lumiere and Cogsworth from their human form to their object form, and back again. In this store you can buy mostly Disney Princess merchandise.
To the right of Be Our Guest Boutique we come to Peter Pan's Flight. I am going to make a bit leap here and assume that nearly anyone who is interested in reading this report has already been on at least one of the other Peter Pan's Flights of the world, if not multiple. The general consensus amongst fans seems to be that Florida and Tokyo's versions are pretty dire, and Paris and California's are really pretty. Also, anyone who has followed us for a long time knows that we love Peter Pan, and Peter Pan's Flight is one of our most favourite attractions at the parks. With all that said, I now put this to you: throw out everything you know about Peter Pan's Flight, because when you step aboard your pirate ship in Shanghai, you should be prepared to be mind blown!
Peter Pan's Flight at Shanghai Disneyland is a breathtakingly stunning attraction that utilises technology, scenes and effects that make even Paris' version look dull by comparison (and believe me, I still love Paris' one, regardless). No photo or video can capture what it is like to experience this attraction, but I tried - and didn't succeed very well! We ended up experiencing Peter Pan's Flight four times during our trip (with virtually no wait on any occasion) - more than we rode any other attraction!
Before we continue around to the right, we have to take a detour. Currently Shanghai Disneyland are in the process of developing their own version of Toy Story Playland (which can already be found in Paris and Hong Kong). The new land will sit at the back of the park, behind Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. However, right now there is a long pathway that connects Fantasyland and Tomorrowland (which I briefly mentioned in my Tomorrowland report), with nothing along it. It is a weird connecting point, but what is even stranger is that there are two locations at the end of the pathway near Tomorrowland that really fit with nothing else, but are lumped into Fantasyland just so they have a place. They even sit outside the main "welcome" sign for Fantasyland that is on this pathway.
The Celebration Cafe is undoubtedly the worst looking location in the park. I really hope it gets transformed into something more functional and significantly better themed once they open Playland, because right now, it is utterly dire. It's a real shame because some of the artwork on the building is actually cute, but the execution of the whole thing is terrible.
Opposite the Celebration Cafe are restrooms which take the theme of a Green Army Man bunker, and a giant bucket, from Toy Story - which of course will be absorbed into the new land once it opens.
Walking back along the long path towards the main area of Fantasyland, we come face to face with the Guest Services location, opposite Peter Pan's Flight. Here you can get Fantasyland wait times and FastPasses for Peter Pan's Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Next door to the Guest Services kiosk is a small cart location called Cottage Curios, selling more generic merchandise.
Around on the right hand side, we find ourselves at yet another small kiosk, this time Troubadour Treats, which serves rice bowls and egg tarts.
Sticking out on this rather long, bleak pathway, to our left, is the Evergreen Playhouse, which currently houses the Frozen Sing-Along show. If you have seen the Frozen shows at the US parks, you have a fairly solid idea of what to expect, though there are some differences worth mentioning. First of all, the main characters speak live in Chinese, which is really interesting, and quite impressive, to listen to. Olaf has been added to this show, but not in the same capacity that he appears in the Paris version - here he is rolled in atop a block of ice by Kristoff. Finally, Elsa appears by rising up from below the stage, which is pretty neat. While I am not a huge Frozen fan, and while the show is virtually the same as the Florida version (the hosts are even named Erik and Aria!), it is certainly fun to watch, and listen to - especially in Chinese!
Opposite the theatre is a popcorn cart, which of course serves popcorn. There is also another random wagon on the pathway outside the theatre.
Lots more open space and empty pathway later, we come to the Tangled Tree Tavern on our left hand side. Another counter service restaurant, this time you can dine on chicken, beef and fish. While I can see where they were going with this restaurant, for no real reason, this place just doesn't work so well for me. I think I had a higher expectation of it - perhaps expecting it to be a littler more on the "cute" side, like a lot of other stuff in this park - with more hints towards the Snuggly Duckling from the movie rather than just being a random Tangled restaurant. Anyway, my own opinions aside, Disney didn't do a bad job of it, and if you're a Tangled fan, you should check it out.
Opposite the Tangled Tree Tavern is an area that on the guide map is listed as the Festival Forest. I am going to take this as a cue to talk to you about the vast open spaces that I have referenced in off-hand comments so far throughout this post. While Fantasyland here in Shanghai has some neat things, it just didn't work well for me. One of the main reasons was these vast open areas of nothingness. Long pathways with just walls or trees that hide walls, and fields - yes, actual fields, with maybe one or two picnic tables and then just nothing. It just feels very odd, and made everything else stick out so much. For example, the Evergreen Playhouse is a huge building, but there is nothing around it, and it just sits there, sticking out and not really gelling well with its surroundings. I wanted to like Fantasyland here, but these open spaces really killed the mood for me. The Festival Forest is the only one of these spaces to have an actual name, and this is pretty much purely because of two things - the Sword in the Stone is here, and they hold small shows here. Unfortunately, despite our very best efforts (we did absolutely everything in the park at least once), we did not see the performances here, and the sole reason for that was because we were visiting during the week and not on the weekend, when the shows apparently play. So, sadly, I cannot tell you about the show here, but I can tell you that when the show isn't on, it's just a field with the Sword in the Stone dropped in the middle of it. The photos below depict both the Festival Forest and one of the other many open spaces in Fantasyland.
Around the pathway from the Festival Forest we find Merlin's Magic Recipe; another small kiosk which this time serves steamed buns.
Opposite Merlin's Magic Recipe we find the Hundred Acre Wood area of Fantasyland, where you can experience two attractions and one store.
Hunny Pot Spin is a new take on the classic tea cups attraction found at all the other parks around the world. Yes, we did it, and yes it was pretty much the same experience, but it was fun nonetheless. Again, there was virtually no wait when we rode it.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is almost a carbon copy of the California attraction of the same name, sadly. Like when they built Hong Kong Disneyland, Disney decided for some reason to not go with the Pooh's Hunny Hunt model from Tokyo. Bouncing through the Hundred Acre Wood in a giant honey pot is always fun, but it doesn't have quite the same effect once you have been to Tokyo.
Exiting the attraction you find yourself in the Hundred Acre Goods store, which of course stocks a lot of Winnie the Pooh related items, amongst other things.
While the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train sits next door to the Hundred Acre Wood area, you have to trek around another pathway to get to the entrance. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is almost the same as the one in Walt Disney World, with a couple of cosmetic differences, and a change in scenery at the end. I have never really understood the hype for this attraction over all anyway, and while it is fun, it has never grabbed me in Florida, and it certainly didn't inspire me here in Shanghai.
There is a small retail cart outside the attraction, called Mountainside Treasures, which sells hats and umbrellas.
Opposite the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, on a pathway that would take you back to the Enchanted Storybook Castle, is the entrance to the Alice in Wonderland Maze. The Alice in Wonderland Maze here is not at all like Alice's Curious Labyrinth from Disneyland Paris, and you should not expect any sort of sentimental attachment in that regard. The Alice in Wonderland Maze here in Shanghai is based on the live action movies from Tim Burton, and in my own opinion, is vulgar and ugly. It feels very plastic, and is so jarring in its style and appearance from anything else in the land that it just doesn't work. Additionally, it doesn't really work as a true maze, because there is a very clear guided path to the exit, making it a rather one-way experience.
Upon exiting the maze we find ourselves near the Mine Train again, and if we head around to the right, we find another guest services location and a pretzel cart (neither of which I had a good photo of that I could share, sadly).
Finally for Fantasyland we come to character greetings. In the previous part of this report I told you about the Disney Princess greetings at the Enchanted Storybook Castle. The only other characters in Fantasyland are Captain Hook, near the Peter Pan's Flight attraction (he's actually hidden behind one of the stores), and Winnie the Pooh in the Hundred Acre Wood, outside the store. Neither had a line when we met them.
My over all impression of Fantasyland was mixed. There are some really cool things, such as the beautiful Enchanted Storybook Castle, the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto (I talked about both in my previous post), Peter Pan's Flight, and the Frozen show. However, the vast open spaces, empty walkways, the Celebration Cafe, the Alice in Wonderland Maze, the overuse of kiosk locations over good solid venues (Fairy Godmother, Merlin, Troubadour, three merchandise carts, popcorn and pretzel carts), and the disappointing carbon copy attractions (Pooh, Mine Train) really just let it down.
Once you pass the pretzel cart that I mentioned before the character greetings, you enter the land of Treasure Cove! We will discover the magic of Treasure Cove in my next report, so look out for that in the next few days!
Have a great day everyone,