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Shanghai Disneyland First Quarter Report Card Part 3: The Ugly

The first full quarter of Shanghai Disneyland has had some mixed results. From a financial standpoint, the resort is a success. Attendance seems to be high on most days, even though guest spending isn’t where it should be. Today we are going to focus on the maintenance of Shanghai Disneyland. The resort is less than six months old and it’s already starting to show some signs of wear and tear.

Shanghai Disneyland

In our last article, we talked about how well designed the park is for guest flow. Regardless of how busy or slow the park is, the queues for attractions are fairly evenly spread. The one glaring exception is Soarin’, which exceeds 90 minute wait times on even the slowest days. This is due to four factors: extreme popularity, not enough theaters, staffing and technical difficulties.

Pirates of the Caribbean - Shanghai Disneyland

On slower days, you can walk around the park and see a ton of cast members in front of an attraction while it’s operational. For example, Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for Sunken Treasure will run only one load platform instead of two on slower days. This is quite common to run like with less loading platforms or less vehicle on slower days in virtually any theme park. However, Shanghai Disneyland has the staffing for the ride in front of the attraction greeting and sweeping instead of loading more guests. I don’t understand it either.

Soarin‘ employs the same strategy where it seems that if the park attendance reaches a certain point, the second theater is opened. What makes this even crazier is the technical problems Soarin‘ has had since opening day.

Soarin Shanghai Disneyland

In Shanghai Disneyland, these carriages are driven and lifted by electric power. The end result is a flight that is far more smooth and fluid thanks to smaller electric motors than their American counterparts.  Notice in the picture above, the photo was taken while sitting in the right carriage and you can see the center one is completely empty. That’s because the arms will often stop operating in the middle of the day. Instead of closing the theater completely, the remaining working arms will still lift into the air and the problem units can be inspected after park close.

What is bonkers is the operation will still only operate one theater if one of those arms goes down.  Even though they are staffed for two.

Storybook Castle

In front of Storybook Castle, things are rather dry. The moat which houses some pretty spectacular fountain shows to coincide with both daytime and nighttime performances has been bone dry for a while. Granted, I’m told that this is a temporary problem and the park is working to fix this. Keep in mind, we are talking less than six months.

Shanghai Disneyland

Which is nothing compared to the concrete issues in Tomorrowland.

Shanghai Disneyland

The entire land is covered in botched concrete jobs that range from cosmetically unappealing to actual trip hazards.


Shanghai Disneyland


Shanghai Disneyland

Trash cans are places precariously in the middle of walkways to prevent guests from tripping.  You’ll see this frequently in the upper section near Tron.

Shanghai Disneyland


Shanghai Disneyland

None of this is incredibly scathing. It’s also fair to point out that Shanghai Disneyland is by far the most detailed Magic Kingdom park to date. The issues being brought up in this article are fairly small in the grand scheme of the entire park.

Shanghai Disneyland


Shanghai Disneyland

Even during my visit back in May, the trees all had these clearly custom made coverings around them. Every single one in Disneytown and within the park have already rusted and it’s very bizarre.

Shanghai Disneyland

Walking around the park, you’ll notice a few stray lightbulbs out here and there. While not a huge issue, and they are slowly being replaced, but the bigger issue is with park lighting.

Shanghai Disneyland

There are dozens of park lights that help illuminate pathways at night that are completely out and take days or weeks to get changed out.

Shanghai Disneyland

One thing that has been barely publicized is the energy management system that Disney and the Shanghai government created for the park. Through the use of controls, the system can turn off lights after park hours or as they are needed for third shift vehicles to do their work in the middle of the night. Sometimes you need light and sometimes you don’t. This system can be tailored to fit those needs.

Shanghai Disneyland

Unfortunately, what ends up happening is certain lights get turned off while guests are still in the park. Bugs are still being worked out, but between having burnt out bulbs and the energy system going haywire, many sections of the park are left dark.

Shanghai Disneyland

Finally, there are some serious paint issues that are creeping up around Shanghai Disneyland. These photos were taken while waiting in line for The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Shanghai Disneyland

Keep in mind, the point of showing all of this is not for shock value. I know park executives read Theme Park University and the hope is they realize some of these issues before they get too far out of hand. As anyone who has been a long time fan of Disneyland Paris can tell you, mediocre maintenance can become commonplace and eventually be accepted as the norm. Staying on top of these items ensures that the park stays fresh for generations to come. Your thoughts?

Shanghai Disneyland

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Images Copyright: Theme Park University

Editors Note: A previous version of this story listed Soarin in the United States as being hydraulic power.  That was incorrect, they have always been electric driven.

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