Shanghai Disney Celebrates 5! - My Family Travels

With the rapid pace of world change, it’s hard to believe that Shanghai Disney Resort is turning five years old this year. We are able to accept that five years has passed quickly. Instead, it’s difficult to imagine there was ever a world without a Disneyland theme park in mainland China.

Shanghai Disneyland's new character costumes.
Mickey Mouse and cast members welcome guests to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Shanghai Disney Resort. Photo c. Disney Parks

Shanghai Disney Resort officially opened its gates on June 16, 2016, bringing the wonder and imagination of Disney to fans and guests in magical new – and distinctly Chinese — ways.

If your family is looking for a safe and exotic international vacation, there’s no better time than this year to catch the Disney magic right in Shanghai.

Shanghai Disney at 5

In the five years since opening, the resort has become one of the most popular global vacation destinations, with innovative experiences and expansions, including new lands, stories and characters.

To celebrate five years of success, Shanghai Disney Resort has announced a “Year of Magical Surprises” and redecorated the entire resort for fans. This is quite an undertaking because the resort’s Shanghai Disneyland, two themed hotels, Disneytown commercial area and grounds comprise 963 acres. For comparison, that’s about 11 times the size of California’s Disneyland Resort, the company’s flagship which opened in 1955.

China’s Very Own Disney Resort

Shanghai Disneyland's Magic Castle with new light show.
Shanghai Disneyland’s Magic Castle celebrates five years with a new light show. Photo c. Disney Resorts

According to Joe Schott, President and General Manager, Shanghai Disney Resort, the resort has welcomed tens of millions of visitors in the past five years.

The Shanghai Resort experienced a 15-week shutdown (from January to May 2020) to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus. It was the first Disney theme park in the world to reopen.

When it reopened at 30% capacity, visitors were required to wear masks and undergo temperature checks, as well as social distance at restaurants, rides and other facilities. They still are. Schott has credited the power of positive thinking for making the park a success since its stressful reopening.

Five Years Brings Many Shows & Surprises

Surprise yourself during the fifth anniversary celebration with souvenirs and gifts that guests can win by using the Disney app as they tour the park. Additionally, look out for special cast members. They will be stationed throughout the park to surprise visitors with a pass to a special “Surprise” show performed just for them in Tomorrowland. Those lucky enough to be given a chance at the “Disney Surprise Wheel” have opportunities to win merchandise, special dining events, annual passes and more.

In contrast with character meet n’ greets and crowd-drawing parades, which have been temporarily suspended at Disney parks due to public health concerns, Shanghai Disney has discovered many new ways to surprise and delight guests while maintaining social distancing guidelines.

New Events, Music & Costumes at Shanghai Disney

Shanghai Disneyland's new show of characters is performed for the fith anniversary of the resort.
Several new shows with new music and costumes have been created to celebrate Shanghai Disney’s fifth anniversary. Photo c. Disney Parks

In China, Disney will launch a new nighttime spectacular – ILLUMINATE! A Nighttime Celebration using the cutting-edge technology developed for some of the other parks’ shows.

As Mickey’s Storybook Express gets a new look, a pre-parade of birthday themed floats, including a Disney Surprise Birthday Cake Float towering above 12 feet, have been added. Music and costumes promise to be new for the occasion.

As with all major Disney events, the fifth anniversary of the Shanghai Disney Resort will showcase more than 200 souvenirs with a range of limited-edition collectible items. New menu items and snacks, always popular at Disney parks, will be rolled out throughout the celebration. Expect to see a lot of 5s and sweet treats.

Shanghai Tourism Welcomes Back Foreigners

In good news, COVID-19 infections have remained very low in the region according to Chinese media reports. Tourism is returning in a big way to Shanghai, one of China’s most popular cities. According to Shanghai’s tourism big data, the city received nearly 17 million tourists during the 2021 May Day holiday, up 138.88% year on year from 2020. Almost four in 10 of those tourists were from other Chinese provinces.

Travelers from many countries outside China borders are now welcomed to visit as long as they have time to tackle several hurdles to entry still in place. Foreign visitors who have completed their Chinese or American-made vaccines may enter the country. Be sure to check with your Visa issuing office for the latest restrictions as additional requirements vary and quarantines are still in effect, even for vaccinated travelers who show negative COVID test results upon arrival.

The continued easing of public health restrictions will increase the numbers able to visit Shanghai Disney Resort as well as the city’s many other attractions.

Planning Your Shanghai Disney Getaway

More surprises and details about Shanghai Disney Resort’s 5th Birthday Celebrations will be announced in the near future. If you’re going to be in Shanghai, the city has many wonderful hotels. However, none can compare to the theming of the Toy Story Hotel right on the Shanghai Disney property, so it’s worth spending a night there.

Be sure to plan ahead. Go online to Shanghai Disney to reserve your hotel if needed, plus the required entry date and time. This is mandatory for all visitors, including infants and toddlers. Tickets and Annual Passes for entry to Shanghai Disneyland are available via the resort’s multiple official channels.

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