First, I should acknowledge that it’s been a few weeks since my last blog entry. Why? Unfortunately, there’s been a distinct lack of Disney in my life as of late. Sure I’ve kept up with news as it pertains to the site and such, but it’s been two months since I was last in a park and that was merely for a day. However, that’s going to change in just a few short weeks that will surely feel like an eternity.
Last Sunday I officially booked my trip to the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland. Naturally, since I’ll only be a two-hour flight away, my wife and I will also be venturing down to Hong Kong Disneyland, leaving just Paris on our Disney to-do list (2017?). While I’m beyond excited for the trip, I’ve learned that planning a trip to Shanghai is far more complicated than when going to the domestic parks or even Tokyo.
The first problem was with the site. It was probably to be expected that the Shanghai Disney Resort website would be overwhelmed when ticketing and hotel bookings went live. However, the feeling that everyone else was getting it to work while I was being left out in the cold caused me to be a nervous wreck for most of the morning and afternoon. At one point I had tickets and a hotel room in my cart with no way to checkout or pay for them — like some Disney ticket purgatory!
Finally, after at least four hours of near constant refreshing and frantic messages to my friend Chris, the payment screen loaded properly and I was able to complete my transaction. Shortly after that, I was able to buy a room at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. I decided to go a little easier on my budget and booked the rest of my days at an off property hotel that was a quarter of the price.
While I’m relieved to have that much done, it feels like there’s still a million things to do. First, I have to deal with getting a visa for mainland China. I assumed this would just require mailing something in or having a friend in L.A. do it for me, but apparently neither of those methods will work. So now on top of the $140 dollars for the visa itself, I’ll have to pay $80-100 for a service to do it for me (times two since my wife will be joining me). Additionally, I discovered that both my name and my wife’s will have to be on the hotel reservation so that we can get the visa, which means I had to call the three — yes, three — different sites I used to my hotel stays in order to add her name.
Truth be told, I’m still not done navigating everything for my trip (I still need a flight to Hong Kong and back, an international data plan for my phone, and need to devise a clever luggage packing strategy to meet the needs of each leg of my trip), but I don’t want this to just be a complaint session. Although figuring out each step of this process has been a little bit more intense than I anticipated, I really can’t express how excited I am to be taking this journey. There is the question of whether going to the Shanghai park so early on will have its drawbacks — much like the annual debate over whether you should get a new iPhone or wait a few months for a better one — but being there for the grand opening is literally a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. OK, I guess technically they could close it and reopen it, but still.
Perhaps what I’m most excited about regarding this trip is that it will finally give me some new Disney stories to share. I can’t wait to drink these two Chinese parks in and report back with my thoughts and experiences. So stay tuned — just another 74 days until Shanghai Disneyland opens their gates.
Kyle is a writer living in Springfield, MO. His deep love of Disney and other pop culture finds its way into his stories, scripts, and tweets. His first book “The E-Ticket Life: Stories, Essays, and Lessons Learned from My Decidedly Disney Travels” is available in paperback and for Kindle. http://amzn.to/1CStAhV