With slightly less than two months to go before Shanghai Disneyland opens its magical doors to visitors, ardent Disney fans are already able to visit the sprawling Disney grounds and newly-opened facilities.
Earlier this week, the Shanghai Metro Disney Resort Station officially opened, and more than 8,000 commuters jumped at the opportunity to explore Disneytown, Wishing Star Park and Lake and Disneyland Hotel on the very first day. Disney staffers were also scattered across the grounds with big Disney-esque hand gloves. However there was unfortunately no sign of Mickey, yet.
The station runs on the Shanghai Metro Line 11, and will be the new terminal station. During testing, Disney fans in the city had grumbled that the line wasn’t Disney-ish enough, to which Shanghai transport authorities replied that the train isn't actually part of Disneyland, but part of an existing Metro line. They did promise that Disney station itself give visitors a ‘wonderful visual experience’.
And what they delivered is, admittedly, more Disney-ish than other stations, and slightly more likely to bring a 'wonderful experience' than changing lines at People's Square. The glass doors are decorated with Disney stickers along with the Shanghai skyline, and there were colourful murals of all the key characters.
The most outstanding difference was the Mickey and Minnie statue at the centre of the train station, which provided a good photo opportunity and plenty of potential for WeChat selfies.
At night, the station also lights up with multi-coloured LED lights.
But after all, it's not the station you're here to see (we hope). Take Exit 1 for the easiest access to the entrance of Disneyland and Disneytown, an 'entertainment, dining and shopping hub', which is yet to have any of its stores open their doors. However, the brands opening up will include The Cheesecake Factory, Wolfgang Puck, Xin Wang Restaurant, adidas, Sephora, and a Lego store amongst other Disney stores. You can also hop on the Disney Resort Shuttle (1RMB per ride) which takes you around the entire Disney Resort.
The Steamboat Mickey Fountain at the entrance of Disneytown also marks of the entrance of that hallowed Disneyland ground, which is currently (sadly) fenced up. You can’t see past the entrance, but when we tiptoed and peeked through the gates we could just see the Mickey Clock tower, and even the majestic Enchanted Storybook Castle.
This red bridge connects Disneytown to the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, across Wishing Star lake.
The hotel, which lights up in different colours at night (not while you're trying to sleep, hopefully), will only officially open on June 16, but visitors can already venture in and explore.
And in other Disney news, bus rides to the Disney Resort are also up and running. According to the Shanghai Daily, the 51 and 52 bus services run from Zhoupu and Nanhui respectively and will take you to the theme park (although you will miss the wonderful Disney metro station that way).
And when Shanghai Disneyland does officially open, it is bringing with it a range of restaurants catering to Chinese visitors, including the eight major regional cuisines. Expect Peking duck pizza, red bean buns, pork-stuffed mooncakes and braised pork knuckles in soy sauce - in the shape of Disney characters, of course.
And in the last sign of how Disney-crazy China is going, Disney's official sponsor China Eastern unveiled a repainted Airbus A330 plane this week that features a Mickey and Minnie Mouse design. The airline says they will redecorate another plane that will display the Enchanted Storybook Castle, and more themed planes are still to come.
Photo from Shanghai Disney Resort