Disneyland Shanghai {Authentically Disney, Distinctly Chinese}

If you get to know me, eventually you'll get to hear about my love for Disney - the man, the brand, the magic. I fall somewhere between newbie and fanatic when it comes to love of all things Disney, but I fall on the "totally sold" end of admiration for the intelligent, entrepreneurial, dream-come-true mentality that turned a single, determined vision into a global company that truly delights in making people happy. Even if for a brief moment in time.

Unlike many fans, I didn't experience Disney as more than the business behind animated movies until I was in my early twenties. Where I grew up, not many people made the effort or could afford to visit Disney World. But when I finally did, and found myself crossing the threshold into the hallowed grounds of Magic Kingdom, it only took milliseconds to fall - yes, it was love at first site. And I've never looked back.

Since that first time, like a sponge I've gathered insight into the whys and the whatnots associated with both Disneyland and Disney World. I've read about and watched documentaries on Walt Disney and the corporation. Thanks to some very fortunate connections (thank you Jason!) I've had the opportunity to now go to both Disney World and Disneyland more than I could ever have imagined or could do on my own. I've eaten, drank, and laughed my way through the parks. I've mapped out the best routes to see and do all the things I want to (and have even shared some of my insight on my wedding website http://jacquelynnbuck.com/everafters/bachelorette-parties-and-disney/). But despite all that, I am by no means an expert. What I am is a dedicated believer that if you can dream it, you can do it. And if you make it worth it, people will come. And every one of the Disney parks across the continent proves that to be true.

Now don't get me wrong, I am also a realist. I know there is unfavorable press. I grieve for the most recent tragedy on Orlando's shoulders, including those on Disney's shores. And I also understand that it takes a small fortune for a family larger than 2 to fully enjoy the parks, and that's just the entrance fee. Add food, hotel, drinks, sugar, and souvenirs to the mix, and, well, the happiest place on earth can be one of the priciest. But, despite it all, millions of people visit. And they visit again. And again. And again. Why? Because Disney is doing something right. They are tapping into the want, maybe even the need, for us to escape, relive childhood, or simply forget our troubles for a day. They do everything they can to insulate you from the droll life outside the gates, making sure even if you're a bit lighter in the wallet and hella-exhausted by the end of your trip, you have memories that will last a lifetime. And for that, for one place to be able to do all of that, is truly magic.

So, given my feelings, you can only imagine the rise in excitement I felt when I knew that my pilgrimage of sorts to visit a brand spanking new, never before done or seen, 17 years in the making version of Disney's magic that was taking root on soil so foreign I never dreamed I'd set foot on, was going to happen. Yeah, it was pretty fantastic. Thanks to Jason, who has been the man behind the magic and my true insight into the Disney culture, I was able to preview Shanghai Disney Resort, twice, in trial operations. And last night, when I watched the GMA coverage of the park preliminaries and the grand opening ceremony live via the web, I truly felt like I had been able to partake of something pretty phenomenal. And so I share with you my view - of a park so completely different than any I've ever seen, with pieces and parts that feel like the Disney I know, and so much that feels like the Disney I don't, but want to.

Please enjoy!

the entrance as seen from the Metro station and a short walk towards the gate.

 The first Disney theme park to not have a train in the train station. Kind of a neat trivia bit.

 a view of some of the details along Mickey Ave (the main street taking you to the castle) and also some fun perspective on the statue outside the Toy Story hotel on property.

A couple of views of the largest, tallest castle to ever grace a Disney park.

inside the castle are some amazing hand-tiled murals depicting some recognizable characters. Also an amazing view of the ceiling and soaring internal structure of the castle.

 I was fortunate enough to dine in the Royal Banquet Hall -
the only sit down table service restaurant in the park.

  A boat ride through some of the movies, complete with music and water features!

The first Pirate-themed land, with SO much attention to detail and the most incredible Pirates of the Caribbean ride ever -
I'm talking mind blowing advanced technology paired with just enough nostalgia to make it the Pirates ride you remember.

Below, the night sky inside the queue for Soaring over the Horizon,
which is also completely different than any other Soaring throughout Disney's parks.

 the Alice in Wonderland interactive maze. Pretty cool again with the details.

 Tron - the ride. Fast, furious and fabulous!

 the night view.


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