Being the newest and perhaps the most technologically advanced Disney Park, Shanghai Disney Resort (SDR) has already received a lot of coverage. Within this coverage a lot of SDR’s E-Ticketattractions have also received a lot of attention. Thus, I decided today’s article would look at a couple of what I would consider “hidden gems” scattered around Shanghai Disney Resort.
They might not be Tron Lightcycle Power Run or Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, but they are attractions that, whenever someone tells me that they are going to visit SDR, I name as ones they have to visit.
Voyage to the Crystal Grotto
I always find myself talking about Voyage to the Crystal Grotto when someone is going to SDR. I think it is mainly because most people have not heard of it. Also, I think back to the first time I went to the park during trial operations. We had heard that there was a Fantasyland boat ride similar to the Storybook Land Canal Boats, but with all the cool stuff going on, it kind of fell of the radar. I was almost to the point that we had forgotten about attraction until we walked past it near the Enchanted Storybook Castle in Fantasyland.
Part of that was due to how excited/tired we were. But, I also think we can be forgiven for forgetting about the attraction due to its location. Adding to its mystique is how unassuming the ride entrance is, almost a little sunken back and hidden, giving very little away.
The queue for the attraction is similar. Simple over and backs in a wooden ski lodge-esque building. There is a lot of queue space, but the majority of the time this attraction has a small queue time, which is always a plus at a busy Shanghai Disney Resort.
At the front of the queue sits a small loading dock where your canal boat waits. Similar to the Jungle Cruise you can sit on either the left side or the right side of the canal boat. I personally prefer the left side of the boat, but to each their own.
Once aboard the boat you take a gentle cruise heading towards the Crystal Grotto. On the way, you encounter scenes from your favorite Disney movies that come to life like giant music boxes.
These scenes are ornate and beautiful from classics such as Beauty and The Beast, Aladdin, Fantasia and Mulan. Once your boat has traversed its way through these diorama’s you find yourselves next to the incredibly impressive Enchanted Storybook Castle. Instead of going around the castle, the secret doors open, and your canal boat drifts in.
You then find yourself in the Crystal Grotto. It’s dark at first, and then the caverns around you start to illuminate and giant crystals spread magic all across the walls. Next, your boat drifts past giant murals that brighten with dancing lights until your boat exits the grotto and heads back to the loading dock.
This attraction isn’t “white knuckle” by any stretch of the imagination. But, it’s incredibly intricate and beautiful. The views that you get of the Enchanted Storybook Castle are impressive enough all on their own.
Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue
I cannot gush enough about how much I love Buzz Lightyear Planet Rescue. My brother recently visited SDR. Before he went, I told him he had to do Buzz Lightyear. He asked if it was similar to Astroblaster and Space Ranger Spin, and I agreed, but kept as tight lipped as possible.
A week later, I got a message from him that just read “WOW.” That’s exactly what I thought when I first experienced the attraction. Yes, Planet Rescue is based on similar Buzz attractions such as Astroblaster and Space Ranger Spin. But, it’s miles ahead in terms of quality.
The set-up is generally the same. You enter the show building and are prepped for your mission. Once prepared, you then board your ride vehicle to go battle Zurg and his robots. This is where Planet Rescue enters a league of its own. The story is similar (you battle robots on the planet and then head into Zurg’s lair for a confrontation with the man himself), but the immersive-ness, game play, scoring system and visuals of the ride lead to a more enjoyable experience.
There is no doubt in my mind that Planet Rescue is the best “one of these” type attractions in any of the Disney Parks due to its stunning visuals and epic immersion. I can only hope that when Ant Man and Wasp: Nano Battle opens at Hong Kong Disneyland it is very similar.
“Once Upon a Time” Adventure
This could be the attraction on my list that will be chastised the most, but I thoroughly enjoy it, mainly for its uniqueness. “Once Upon a Time” Adventure is set in the Enchanted Storybook Castle. Now, this attraction requires its fair share of walking and the ability to climb a large set of stairs at one point, so be aware. But, it’s worth it to explore the inner workings of Enchanted Storybook Castle.
This attraction is a series of scenes chronicling the story of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. You and your group will visit each scene and then the story will play out around you. This is a very good opportunity for younger visitors to experience the story for the first time.
Like a lot of attractions at SDR, it is the immersive technology that really stands out in “Once Upon a Time” Adventure. Each scene literally comes to life with interesting visuals, video screens and projections to make for a quaint yet magical experience.
Challenge Trails at Camp Discovery
I have spent the majority of this article waxing lyrically about the technology used in SDR… and now it’s time for something completely different. The Challenge Trails are not technologically impressive. But, they are impressive… and different.
So different that I don’t expect to see them in any other Disney Park. The challenge trails are based in Camp Discovery in Adventure Isle and are part exploration trail, part ropes course.
Once you have queued for the attraction (and due to the nature of the attraction, that could be a while) you are equipped with a harness and attached to a metal track overhead. You then move your harness (and your body) through one of two challenge trails and over several obstacles whilst exploring the caves and cliffs of Adventure Isle.
The views from this attraction are worth the wait itself, but what I really like is that it’s an active attraction where you can immerse yourself in the world and not just passively experience something. But, fear not, this attraction doesn’t actually have to be challenging, as each obstacle has multiple paths of varying difficulty. The least difficult is basically a leisurely walk, making it more of a sightseeing tour than an adventurous expedition.
It is important to note that this attraction doesn’t operate in inclement weather, so if you it’s a priority (and it should be) make sure you head over there when it’s dry.
So, that’s it for my ‘Hidden Gems’ of SDR, and if you are going to Shanghai Disney Resort anytime soon, please don’t miss out these attractions as they are unique to the park and a pleasure to behold.
What do you think? Have you experienced any of these attractions? Do you like them? Are there any attractions from any of the Disney parks that you consider to be “hidden gems”? Let’s continue the conversation in the WDW Radio Box People Facebook group.
(All photos are from the personal collection of Daniel Morris)
To learn more about Daniel and read his recent posts for the WDW Radio Blog, visit his author page by clicking the link on his name at the top of this post.