Shanghai Disney (with Beijing) pre trip report (update: Disney lack of plans)

Discussion in 'Other Lands' started by OrangeBirdGirl, Apr 18, 2017.

  1. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    I love reading others trip reports, so this is my first shot at doing one. I'll go through some of our planning and hopefully finish it up with our post trip report.

    It's just DH & I traveling, we have no kids. DH is 41 and I'm 39. We're from north central United States.
    DH & I are usually on the same page with where we want to travel except Asia. He spent a lot of time throughout Asia in the military so his draw is other parts of the world. Where I would see his pictures and hear of the culture and wanted to visit. We traveled to Japan 7 years ago and that has been my only time to Asia. But after everything I've read for the past 10 years said how hard it was for Americans to visit China, I figured I'd settle for Hong Kong (which we haven't been but I'd still love to). So China was always on the back burner.

    Fast forward many years until D23 2015. We saw the Shanghai exhibit and we were amazed by Pirates and Tron and we knew we'd figure out a way to visit. Back in summer of 2015, travel for Americans without a tour company or being invited by someone in China was pretty new (I think late 2014 they opened it up). I spent months researching it and finally figured out how to do it on our own. We researched the best time of year to go. We knew we would not attempt to go for opening day, as seemed too tricky incase pushed back. But we wanted to go within one year of opening. Which we settled on May 2017 as our trip date, which we have booked now.

    We spent months researching various travel plans. We looked at ABD, but we'd have to extend time before and after to be able to fully see both Disney's in HK and Shanghai. Plus we wanted to spend more time when we would go to HK non-Disney over what ABD was giving you. We initially were going to visit Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin and Shanghai. But that was coming in close to a 3-week trip. Which would only leave us 2 weeks for the rest of the year. We then axed Guilin. Lastly we eliminated Xi'an. We figured we'd concentrate on Beijing and Shanghai and at a later point we'd go back and see Xi'an and Guilan. 10 days is really our limit for how long we like to travel at a given time.

    Our first part of the detailed planning, once we narrowed down just Shanghai and Beijing was to determine order of the cities. We decided to end at Disney. These are the reasons we chose that; wouldn't have to lug the souvenirs around for transferring hotels and if we couldn't find decent food we'd have some safe bets at Disney. Plus we'd have the excitement the entire trip looking forward to Disney.

    Next step was to figure out exactly how many days in each city and where to stay. What we do with all places we travel is a custom Google map for each city. We plot all the attractions we want to visit and find the hotel based upon the best location for the attractions. We use Viator mainly to see the various attractions in each city (but usually book on our own) as well as Trip Advisor reviews.

    Knowing we could book airfare at 11 months out (June 2016) we started our detailed trip planning in February 2016.

    Next up..... I'll go through our Beijing planning.
     
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  2. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Oooh! Another PTR/TR. Glad you've decided to start one.
     
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  4. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    So now that we knew we'd just concentrate on Beijing & Shanghai (with Disney) it's time to figure out how much time is needed in Beijing. Some more background on us, vacation is a go-go-go for us. We are able to relax at home. So we have no desire to pay money to travel someplace and sit in a hotel room relaxing. We like to be out of the hotel for the day by 7am (fine with earlier if stuff to do). Usually back around 7-8pm relax a little bit and early to bed by 10.

    The main thing on our list to see was the Great Wall. We researched various parts of the wall. We looked at various tours. But, we really don't care for tours unless it's something we can't do on our own. The other issue with a tour is we are thinking we want the Great Wall to be a longer activity for us, hike along the wall for hours. Most tours only allow up to 2 hours at the wall and it is going during the middle of the day when very crowded. We settled on what is the most touristy part of the wall, Badaling. But the reason we chose this section is we could get their easily on our own (regional train). We could be on the first train at 6:30am to arrive at 7:40am. We are hoping we will beat the crowds plus with wanting to walk far, we will get away from any congestion (we have read there is a lot of tourists for the first half mile or so then dwindles down). Another reason we chose this section is because it has some tourist attractions such as an alpine style slide and a bear garden (we're assuming almost like a zoo with just bears) incase we end the walking part of the wall earlier in the day and want to stick around. There are also restaurants in this area. Unfortunately since you have to be at the regional railway station about an hour before the train departs, we will have to take a taxi from our hotel to the station. The subway starts running at 5am, however, that will get us up to the railway station around 6am and that's cutting it too close for us. So we will leave the hotel via taxi to the train station around 5:30am.

    Other things that were a must see in Beijing is: Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. We also wanted to do a duck dinner and see a Kung Fu show. Those were our top items. We considered the Beijing Zoo. However, after reading a lot of reviews that weren't the best we decided to eliminate that. We looked at Summer Palace, but the interest level wasn't that high, and it was pretty out of the way from most things we wanted to see. Beijing Zoo was also on our list because the initial railway station to get to the Great Wall was near here, but that station is under construction so we have to use a much further away station.

    So we decided on just 2 full days in Beijing. One day for Great Wall and one day for Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square. We mapped out the various locations and decided on a hotel near Forbidden City / Tiananmen Square. We decided on the Sunworld Dynasty (we did not book any hotels/airfare until we had our travel plans complete). Now it is time to see if there is anything else to fit into the days......

    Day 1 - With flights from the US we knew we'd arrive in Beijing sometime in the late afternoon - later night. We will adjust our sleep and awake schedule to mirror Beijing time a few days beforehand. But Day 1, we are not planning on doing anything, just get to our hotel, find dinner and take pics around the hotel. We researched a lot of duck dinners and decided on Sinji Minfu Restaurant Peking Roast Duck, which is only 0.25 miles from our hotel. We might eat there on the first night. We also will have to be up very early (around 3:45am) the next day.

    Day 2 - Leave at 4:45am via taxi to railway station to take train to Great Wall to arrive at 7:40am. There are a couple train options to return back to Beijing from Badaling. One is at 1:30pm and another at 3:45pm. We have to be on the 3:45 on for sure as we have the Kung Fu show that night. If we are finished at the wall and leave on 1:30 train, once we arrive back to Beijing (2:50pm) the subway we take back to our hotel passes by the Olympic Stadium, so we will stop there and go see the stadium. If we still have time, the same subway line also passes the Bell & Drum Towers, so we will stop there and see that. In the evening we have the Kung Fu show at 7:30pm at Red Theatre (we will take the subway there), we will stop by the hotel first to change. If we still have time before having to leave for the show there is the Beijing Department Store, which is six floors. If Day #2 is rainy, we will do the Great Wall on Day #3.

    Day 3 - We will start the day at Tiananmen Square which opens at 5am. We are able to walk there from our hotel, about a 20 minute walk. I can't see us being there at the opening time of 5am, as the next stop after Tiananmen Square is Forbidden City and that doesn't open until 8:30am. After Forbidden City, we will head to Jingshan Park which is across the street to the north. This park has nice views down into Forbidden City. This park is also something we may do on the first night as it is about a mile walk from our hotel. We are thinking it'll be around lunch when we are done with Forbidden City or the park so we will find lunch someplace. In the afternoon we are heading down to Temple of Heaven. LOL main reason for Temple of Heaven was to see what Epcot replicated. Temple of Heaven closes at 5:30pm and we have no night activities. If we don't do the duck dinner the first night, we will have it tonight. Or, if we do have it and love it, we'll go back. There are some night markets near our hotel we might check out. None of the activities for today are with an organized tour.

    Day 4 - We will head down to Shanghai via the high speed train. We do not have train tickets yet. We used a service which will book our tickets as soon as they are available (about 30 days out so any day now) and they will deliver to our hotel, so we have them paid for and the time we want. Now just hoping they actually get us the time we want. We reserved a 1st class seat on the 9am train leaving Beijing arriving Shanghai 1:50pm. We'll leave our hotel around 7am via subway to the Beijing South Railway Station where we pickup the high speed train. Taking a train vs flying is about the same cost. But we figured it would be neat to take the train and see the countryside. There are three classes of seats on the train, 2nd class, 1st class and business class. 2nd class is 3 x 2 seats where 1st class is all 2 x 2 seats. I wanted to make sure DH & I just had the row to ourselves, plus the seats were a little larger, so that's how we decided on 1st class seats. Business class was tempting, fully reclined seats and snacks included. But the price was about $250 more and like DH said it's not like we are going to sleep on the train so we don't need the seat to lay down.

    Next up, Shanghai planning.
     
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  5. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Love your plans for Beijing. Sounds like you've got it all worked out....bar for the accommodation and locking things in.
     
  6. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    Today DH & I worked on our detailed planning, we have a notebook that we are printing off all directions, and also listing the place in the characters. I had our time wrong for leaving the hotel for to go to the Great Wall, I thought we had to leave at 5:30 but nope, had to leave hotel at 4:45am. I had our wake up time the same at 3:45 though.

    We decided to visit a different section of the wall, Mutianyu. We found a private car service (Jenny's Car Service) which came highly rated on TripAdvisor so we booked her service. It is an English speaking guide which will take us up to the wall and we should have about 5-6 hours to explore on our own. This section of the wall isn't as crowded as our initial plan of Badaling, which we knew would be crowded but didn't want to do a group tour to the other sections. This section also has a luge ride down. We may not be able to stop at the Olympic Stadium or Bell & Drum Towers. On our next day, if time permits we may go to the Bell & Drum Towers.

    After finding Jenny's Car Service, we also decided to book her service for the transfer from the airport to our hotel. Our initial plan was taking a subway (3 transfers) from the Airport ending with a half mile walk to the hotel. Car service will save about 45 minutes of time, plus if the subways are packed (as an afternoon trip) we won't have to worry with our luggage.
     
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  7. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    No onto our Shanghai planning.....

    Shanghai was a little harder for planning then Beijing. Beijing we knew the classic sites that we wanted to see, as we've heard about those places our entire lives. Shanghai, we didn't know anything about the City but knew we had to get there for Disney and we should spend some time exploring the city before Disney. We saw all the massive hotels in the skyscrapers in the New District and wanted to stay there. But Google Maps from what we decided to see had everything on the other side of the river. We found a hotel near Nanjing Road, the Grand Central Hotel.

    This is our plans so far. It's a little interesting because we don't like tours, yet we have two booked in Shanghai.

    Day 4 - We arrive via high speed train from Beijing at 1:50. We will make our way to our hotel on the subway form the railway station. This is the first of 2 actual tours. We have an evening food tour. Finding food to eat is always our biggest issue when traveling. We love food, but we are afraid of what a lot of restaurants look like. DH wanted to try this tour with the street vendors. The tour is 3 hours and you sample 20 dishes. The tour doesn't start until 7pm so we will likely just explore around our hotel before heading out for the food tour. Our thing with tours is if we can do it on our own, we'd prefer that. Then we are on our own schedule. But we'd never be brave enough to eat our way through the street food, so that's why we chose a tour. It has 1,105 5star rating on TripAdvisor so I'm excited for the tour.

    Day 5 - This is #2 of 2 actual tours. We start the morning with a 25km bike tour of Shanghai. It starts at 9:30 so we don't have to leave the hotel until 8:40 which will be nice to sleep in a little bit if we need to as the night before will be a late night for us. I don't recall if the tour is 4 or 5 hours. We would know how to rent a bike on our own or even where to bike to, so that's why this tour works good for us. Our plan after the tour is to walk to Hard Rock Cafe which is about a half mile away. We collect pins from all the Cafes across the world and it's usually a nice break of comfort food when traveling. In the evening we'll head to the Bund area, which is about a 10-15 minute walk from our hotel. I want to get the shots of the new side at night.

    Day 6 - Water town day. Initially we were going to take a tour to Zhouzhuang. But we have read mixed reviews on the water towns. I think the scenery looks neat, but the reviews talked about how it's too crammed packed to do anything. Axed the tour option as if we didn't care for Zhouzhuang we didn't want to be stuck there all day when we could sightsee in Shanghai. We decided on a closer water town Zhujiajiao which we could take a coach style bus to on our own. The other benefit of doing it on our own is the bus departs about 15 min walk from our hotel starting at 6am every half hour (bus ride is 45 minutes). So we knew we could be on the 6:30 or 7am bus to Zhujiajiao. From all the reviews I've read about 10-11am the town gets so crowded, by that time we would have been able to sightsee for a couple hours before the crowds pack in, mainly with tourist busses.
    Later in the day, we will go back to the Bund area. We want to take the sightseeing tourist tunnel across to the new area and ride the ferry back. Possibly go up one of the observation towers on the new side.

    Day 7 - Yuyuan Gardens in the morning. They open at 8:30am and are about 30 mins away from hotel via walking and subway. Our initial plan was to stay there until 10:30am where we'd get back to the hotel pack up and be out for noon checkout. However, seeing PrincessinOz's review of Yuyuan we may need more time and check out before and stow our bags and go since we don't have anything set for that night. After Yuyuan we will head to Disney (subway). More of Disney to follow in the next segment.

    Depending what time we are back from Zhuijajiao we may go to Yuyuan on Day 6 in the afternoon. It'll also depend on how much of the Bund we see on Day 5 and if we feel we need more time there. Which would leave the morning on Day 7 to take the sightseeing tourist tunnel over to the new side and ferry back. If we did Yuyuan on Day 6, since it closes around 5pm we'd still have plenty of time to get back to the Bund area.
     
  8. Aussie Wendy

    Aussie Wendy DIS Veteran

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    Yep you are uber planners!! and as you know you are among friends here! My comments for others reading actually, is that 2nd class on the bullet train from Beijing to Shanghai is actually very comfortable but yes 1st class is 2 + 2 so you are guaranteed seats of only two of you and the seats are a bit bigger. 2nd class was still more roomier than a plane and while I had a business man next to me as our co couldn't get us 2 seats in the 2 row I really didn't notice him. The changing scenes outside the windows are interesting. We never used the toilets on the train so don't know what they were like.

    I will try to get our pics of Mutianyu up before you go. We booked the hire car and driver through the hotel and could have arrived earlier but wanted our "free" breaky first. Also you paid more for being away longer than 8 hours. When we arrived at Mutianyu at 9.30 it was very quiet and stalls etc in the village were just opening so you should find the wall very quiet even though its a bit more tourist season in May. Just check what time the cable cars etc open as it really is a long haul uphill if you decided to walk and then all those steps on the wall. If you plan to go up to Tower 23 be prepared to climb over a half wall that blocks you around tower 20. The other end is much busier but I have read that the wall divides somewhere down that end into two and you can hike along an unrestored part of the wall so you might want to do some research and decide. We also went to Temple of Heaven partly to see the EPCOT reality. It is a big park and we spent longer than we anticipated but it sounds like you have plenty of time. If it was still open when you finished Oriental Pearl Market is an interesting place to browse (and has western loos as well as squat up on one of the higher floors). Lots of bags, scarves etc and pearls on the top 2 floors, and not too "grabby" sales assistants especially the higher you go. The push bike tour of Shanghai sounds great fun and I think I felt the traffic was less chaotic and random than Beijing but do be careful if you are on busier roads. Sounds like a great trip. Enjoy!!
     
  9. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Great plans for Shanghai. I think the push bikes will be a lot of fun!
     
  10. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    I can't wait to see your pics from Mutianyu! Our service is 650rmb. I thought the price was far. DH was the one who was doing most of the planning with looking at that wall area. Yes, he wants to head to the left once we get up the wall. He said some maps showed you can't go past tower 20 as restricted for tourists and some show to tower 23 for this segment. Initially we thought the lifts would be cheating to get up to the wall and we were going to walk the steps. But then decided we didn't want to be tired from that trek up so we are hoping to take a lift. It shows the wall opens at 7am when we go, so hopefully the lifts will be running (and we likely won't get out there until 9am).

    Thank you for the recommendation on the Oriental Pearl Market.

    And yes, we are uber planners. But we find the planning almost as much fun as the actual trip. We have a notebook that we are writing all our directions in. Even down to after Temple of Heaven the option of going up to Bell & Drum tower, another option to go to Olympic Stadium and last option back to our hotel (as we may not do the stadium or Bell & Drum after the Great Wall since we aren't taking the train on our own). That way we aren't trying to figure out the subway on the fly. LOL we do this sort of planning for almost all our trips except WDW (besides ADR and FP+).
     
  11. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    Now onto the highlight of our trip, Disney!!!!!

    Staying at Toy Story. We added on breakfast with our package for each morning.

    Day 7 - We will take the subway over to Disney when we are done doing whatever we decide in the morning (currently Yuyuan Gardens). We do not have park tix this day. We plan on going around Wishing Star Park and seeing and shopping Disneytown. Explore our hotel a little bit and maybe DL Hotel. Maybe catch the fireworks from outside the park, but I've heard you really need to be close to see the projection show as that's the main focus.

    Day 8 - Disney.

    Day 9 - Disney.

    Day 10 - Head home :( We have a 3pm flight out so we will depart around 11am on the subway to the Maglev to the airport. Due to time change we arrive home the same day.

    We really don't have set plans for Disney. We haven't looked at any ride videos and I've stayed away from people's posting at Disney. We want to be completely surprised. We do the same at WDW, haven't looked at anything with Pandora coming to AK, or even when Seven Dwarfs Mine Train came, we didn't look at that before. We don't have any meals booked at Disney. Not sure if we will see what we could get when we get there or just eat counter services.

    The most planning we've done is see which rides have FP and decide which rides we must do. Our highlights are Tron and Pirates. The Discovery ropes course looks fun and so do the canoes. We liked the drawing and that has been taken away at WDW so we see there is drawing at Marvel Universe so we'll want to hit that. Soarin' is one of our favorite rides. But from looking at at the app the wait times seem horrible (and not sure if we'll want to or be able to get a FP for it). We have seen the new version of this at WDW in the fall, so it is not on our top. But I've heard the queue line is a little different so hopefully we'll have a chance to do it. I think one morning we'll head straight to Tron and one morning straight to Pirates. Hopefully ride each a couple times over the 2 days.

    So that's our 10-day trip. I'll add a few more posts about how we booked and how we got our Visa. But now we are on a waiting mode for departure (3 weeks). This weekend we need to finish up our book of directions to include Shanghai. Purchase a few more items for the trip, then I think we are set.
     
  12. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Ooh! Definitely stay away from mine. I'm starting to post the ride pictures.



    The counter service meals at Shanghai Disneyland are actually really really good. Think diversity of meals like at Epcot....and tweak up the quality of food.
    And because Disneytown is right there (you can get to it from the Tomorrowland side of the central hub and the restaurants will seem a lot closer), you will also have the full range of restaurants to choose from as well.

    Hopefully, the resort will be quiet when you get there. In which case, you'll have your pick of dining options and ride options as well. We ended up not needing to FP any of the rides when we were there during the week days.
     
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  13. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    We planned at a high level what we wanted to do, which was how many days in each city. We did all the high level planning before we booked our tickets. The more detailed planning, as I have above was done closer to the trip (within the past month).

    I'll go through how we did our booking and when we booked.

    Airfare is released out 11 months in advance, but I wouldn't book airfare until we knew we had reservations at Disney. I didn't want to risk for some reason a big convention coming to Disney and booking up all the rooms. LOL I k now very unlikely but if we could not stay at Disney we would not go.

    At the 11 month mark when airfare was available I checked Disney's website to see how far out they were booking. I can't remember how far out they were booking but I would keep checking each month seeing if they rereleased days. I even emailed them to see when they'd open up booking, but just got a response back "Check our website for available dates we will add more". This started in mid June 2016. I searched flights to get the ballpark on what they'd be. I kept checking flights weekly incase they dropped drastically we'd book and hope for the Disney booking. In November, I was starting to get really nervous because Disney still was not released. Our plan was to fly out of a commuter airport close to home. We have one 10 mins from home and one a half hour from home. I had a price we'd pay out of our commuter airport and flights skyrocketed. Almost $500 more per person. The larger airport we'd fly into from our commuter (Chicago) skyrocketed too at a price higher then our commuter airport. Chicago is about a 3 hour drive. The last thing we want to do after a long trip is get in a car and drive 3 hours home. Plus parking is ridiculous there. So we had a stressful November. Then early December flights drastically dropped. Our commuter airport dropped to $200 less per person then my budget amount and I was anxiously awaiting on Disney opening up so I could get it all booked. I was checking Disney's website every morning to see if they booked out that far.

    Finally on December 8th (Thursday) Disney opened up and flights were still cheap. But due to other commitments we didn't have time to sit down and book everything until Saturday.

    December 10th (Saturday) is when we booked everything. Before we booked though DH knew about the great firewall of China so we saw our emails that we use (gmail) were blocked in China, this was before I knew about VPN (and even after I know about it now I don't want to mess with it). So we setup a yahoo account to do all our bookings. That way if any probably when we are in China with flights we will get the email notification.

    We booked Disney hotel first. Pretty easy online. First transaction didn't go through, received a text alert from our credit card asking us to verify that we were using our card in China. Once we confirmed and resubmitted it went through. Next we booked our flights. We got a decent arrival in Beijing, 3pm. A lot of flights arrived around 8pm and we didn't want to get in that late due to time change. So we leave our commuter airport at 5:30am on Thursday and connect to a direct flight from Chicago leaving around noon Thursday arriving Beijing Friday at 3pm. We could have left home later in the morning, around 10am but that would only give us an hour to connect in Chicago and for previous overseas flights we've had to take a shuttle to another terminal so we didn't want to risk that. Nor did we want to risk a delay leaving home so gave ourselves a 6 hour layover in Chicago. Which will suck, but that's better then stressing about being a few minutes delayed. That puts our 2 full days in Beijing at Sat and Sun. Which I know is busier on the weekends. We'll be in Shanghai Mon afternoon - Thurs. Then switch to Disney on Thurs and spend Fri & Sat in the park. Again I know it'll be busier on the weekend. But this plan utilizes the least amount of vacation days for us, so that is usually the bigger draw. We leave Shanghai at 4pm on Sunday into Chicago on Sunday and at our home airport at 10pm Sunday night. Monday is a holiday from work so we will have that day to recover.

    We then booked our hotels through Expedia. I changed my name in Expedia's profile to reflect DH's first name and my first name as our single first name (then kept last name same). I did that for the Visa. No problems with Shanghai hotel doing that. Beijing hotel sent me a message asking if that was really our name. When I explained they were fine with it.

    Next step was train tickets. Those weren't released until about a month out. I pre-ordered through Travel China Guide. For a $5 fee they will deliver the tickets to our hotel in Beijing. I just received confirmation last week that the tickets were purchased. They even sent a photo of our tickets and they confirmed they'd deliver to the hotel in Beijing 3 days before our arrival. I contacted the hotel to let them know they'd be coming and they were fine with that.

    So we are set with everything there. We are 2 weeks away and I've been checking the airline's website every couple days to make sure no last minute flight changes.
     
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  14. PrincessInOz

    PrincessInOz Thanks for my avatar, Mary Jo!

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    Sounds like you're all set with the major bookings and travel arrangements.

    Here's hoping that the countdown goes quick and that there are no last minute flight changes.
     
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  15. Agent 86

    Agent 86 Mouseketeer

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    I'm the same - I like to be surprised!

    The only restaurant which requires a booking is the Royal Banquet Hall. Every other restaurant in Shanghai Disney is open for all. We did make a booking for the Royal Banquet Hall for our second day, but ultimately cancelled because it was quite expensive and the park was busier than anticipated so we prioritised time in the park over time in a restaurant. My favourite restaurant was the Tangled Tree Tavern. I wasn't a huge fan of the food at Barbossa's Bounty or the Wandering Moon Teahouse, although both had beautiful theming and views (i.e. POTC and the castle). Tribal Tavern was also decent. Mickey Café looked good and had a number of options, but we prioritised theming over food for this visit.

    TRON and Pirates shouldn't pose too many problems, subject to closures. POTC is easy to ride in the morning and TRON can be walk-on in the 30 to 60 minutes before the park closes. Fast Passes are also an option for TRON.

    Be wary about possible closures for Pirates. The information guide / book indicated that POTC would be closed until 1pm on our second day, so we ignored it in the morning believing it was closed. By the time we realised that it was actually open, the wait time was over 45 minutes so we planned to simply ride it later in the day when it was less busy. But, they closed it at around 4pm for the rest of the day. It was very frustrating as we'd planned for it being closed in the morning (as advised) and then it ended up closing in the afternoon. Luckily we had managed to ride it three times the prior day.

    For some reason, the canoes are unexpectedly popular in Shanghai. If you want to do them, without a 60+ minute wait, you should probably try to do so early in the morning.

    Soaring is possible. Grab a Fast Pass as soon as you're in the park. Otherwise, your only other option would be standby with a potential 3 hour wait.
     
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  16. OrangeBirdGirl

    OrangeBirdGirl Mouseketeer

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    Visa Process.....

    This was the most stressful part of our planning. I mean what if after we bought our nonrefundable plane tix they denied our visa? We'd be stuck paying a large change fee on the airline, plus putting together a trip with airfare of this value (China is much more for us to fly to over Europe, Hong Kong or Japan).

    We had two options to get the visa. Drive 3 hours (one way) to the nearest Chinese Embassy or use a visa processing agency. We decided to use the processing agency. Even though they charge a fee, we saved 2 days of vacation from work (as you had to wait 4 business days after you dropped off your application before you could pick up), driving a total of 12 hours and paying $50 in parking fees.

    After looking at many companies online we went with MyChinaVisa.

    Not sure if the Visa application is the same for other countries besides US but we had to have our plane tickets and hotel reservations purchased in order to apply and send in with our application. DH also received a new passport in December so we had to send his old expired one in as well, as his new one was issued so recently. We initially thought you could only get a 90 day visa but we saw the 10-year. Tried our luck at a 10-year.

    Sent our application into the processing agency and on March 8th. After reading someone's post about their mother having to have their picture retaken because she had earrings on, I was pretty scared. I had a pair on in my pics, but they accepted it. I'm wondering if because just studs and not something large, but I wouldn't risk earrings again. We received our passports back with the visa in it. And, they gave us a 10-year visa. Woo-hoo now we could go back and not have to hassle with paying the fee again and booking everything in advance and wondering if we'd be approved. I have read they've started fingerprinting to get a visa, so I'm assuming when we arrive in Beijing they may fingerprint as we clear customs.

    DH was active military and now he is in the reserves and we've read what China considers as a sensitive job (military, religious or media) they don't issue 10-year visas for. So I am so happy they gave one to us.

    Due to our overplanning and knowing how stuff could go wrong, I don't consider vacation starting for us until we clear customs in Beijing. China still says even if you have a visa, they don't have to allow you into the Country. Well going with my overplanning, we have somewhat of an itinerary to visit HongKong as we were thinking of going there last year. So I've emailed myself the itinerary and if turned away we'll head to Hong Kong (since they don't require visa for entry), spend the first day in a hotel near the airport and nail down a trip at the hotel for the time we have off.

    We're nearing the start (under 2 weeks) and each day we are tracking our (United States) relations with North Korea to make sure we don't break out in war, as we would cancel our trip then. LOL, in addition to overplanning I also think of every situation where we may not actually make it on one of our trips.
     
    Aussie Wendy likes this.
  17. Aussie Wendy

    Aussie Wendy DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2008
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    We found the Shanghai DL app pretty good at keeping up with ride closures so use that to check when Pirates is up or down. It still seems to be going down a lot. If it is up when you first get in I would ride first then worry about queuing for FP for other things unless as you go past the kiosk in Fantasyland eg, there isn't a long queue for FP and you grab one then. Royal Banquet Hall was expensive but the food was very good as was character interaction and it still worked out cheaper for us with exchange rate than doing it in the US. Challenge trails have low capacity plus lockers etc and harnesses so are slow so would be good to prioritise for a second day if you want to do them. The canoes were very busy even in the rain when we were there so I guess if they are a must they go on your list as 2nd priority one of the days. Marvel and Star Wars, especially the latter, were very quiet but I presume get busier if other rides get too full. I look forward to hearing all about your tour experiences too!
     
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  18. Sabrina90744

    Sabrina90744 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2006
    Messages:
    1,368

    Looking forward to reading along. At DLP now and our plans for next summer is the same as you, still have Xian in our plans though!
     
  19. Sabrina90744

    Sabrina90744 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    I hadn't even thought about a Kung Fu Show but i know DH and DS would love it! I read there was no cost difference in train vs plan for Beijing to Shanghai, was there a big time difference?
     
  20. Sabrina90744

    Sabrina90744 DIS Veteran

    Joined:
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    1,368

    We do the same with Hard Rock Cafes and Rainforest Cafes! Not much into tours especially large tours if we MUST use them I learn towards smaller or private tours
     

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