More information if you go to the Disney parks in Shanghai, Tokyo or Hong Kong:
THE BEST WAY TO SHANGHAI
From LAX, United, China Eastern, Delta and American offer nonstop service to Shanghai Pudong International Airport, and United Air China, JAL, All Nippon, EVA and Delta offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares from $779, including taxes and fees.
A visa is required for U.S. citizens visiting China. Obtain one through the Consulate-General of the People's Republic of China, 3rd Floor, 500 Shatto Place, Los Angeles. The cost is $140, whether for a single entry or a multiple-entry visa valid for 10 years. Third-party visa processing centers will take care of the legwork for you and can expedite the process for an additional fee.
If you're staying in Shanghai three nights or less and will be traveling to a third country (such as Japan or Hong Kong) you may be eligible for a free 72-hour transit visa, allowing you to visit only Shanghai without a standard tourist visa.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 86 (the country code for China), 21 (the area code) and the local eight-digit number.
The Shanghai Disney Resort is about 10 miles west of Pudong airport. It's a 20-minute ride from the airport by taxi (about $10) — the easiest approach if you're staying at one of the Disney hotels.
If you're staying in Pudong or Shanghai proper, take the Maglev train ($8) from the airport and transfer at Longyang Road to a taxi to your hotel.
The Shanghai Metro is easy and cheap for getting around the city, and ticket machines feature good English-language translations. Fares are based on distance, and all but the longest journey cost less than $1. Line 11 ends at Shanghai Disneyland.
If you Google "Shanghai Metro map" to research hotel locations, be sure you're looking at an up-to-date iteration that shows the Shanghai Disneyland stop at the south end of Line 11.
VISITING SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND
Buying tickets ahead of time is recommended (tickets are date-specific). Your passport is required for purchase and may be required for admission. One-day prices are $55 for adults; $42 for children under 4 feet 7 inches and seniors (65 and older); children shorter than 3 feet, 3 inches are admitted free. On peak days — summer, weekends and public holidays — admission prices are $74 and $56, respectively.
WHERE TO STAY Lodging near the park entrance is limited to two Disney-managed hotels.
Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, 1009 W. Shendi Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai; 2099-8002. Elegant, Art Nouveau-style lakeside lodging a five-minute boat transfer to the park entrance. Doubles from $244 a night.
Toy Story Hotel, 360 W. Shendi Road, Pudong New District, Shanghai; 2099-8003. Pixar-inspired whims about five minutes by bus from the park entrance. Doubles from $126 a night.
Otherwise, your best bet is in the Pudong area, where five-star hotels can often be found for less than $200 a night, especially on weekends.
Grand Hyatt Shanghai, 88 Century Ave., Pudong, Shanghai; 5049-1234, (888) 591-1234. Among the tallest hotels in the world and one of Shanghai's classiest addresses. Doubles from $158.
Four Points by Sheraton Shanghai, Pudong, 2111 Pudong South Road, Pudong New Area, Shanghai; 5039-9999, (800) 368-7764. This standard-issue Four Points has a mall nearby with lots of food options; watch for deals. Doubles from $129.
WHERE TO EAT
There are only a few full-service options inside the park. At the Royal Banquet Hall inside the castle, the three-course meal is accompanied by character greetings. $55; $39 for children.
Most dining options are at food counters with an emphasis on Asian cuisine, and no two have the same selection. Prices hover around $12 to $14, including a soda, for smoked pork loin and corn at Tribal Table; grilled squid and Shanghai rice at Barbossa's Bounty; Mickey-shaped pizzas at Pinocchio Village Kitchen; and the cheeseburger and fries combo at Stargazer Grill.
Other options are found in Disneytown just outside the park entrance. Coconut Paradise has delicious, authentic (and spicy) Thai cuisine for $13 to $18. The large, upscale Crystal Jade offers excellent Cantonese dishes and has a terrace facing the nightly fireworks show (arrive early for a seat). Budget $25 to $35 per person for dinner but note that, during my visit, no waiters spoke English here.
For those keeping their American taste buds free of foreign influences, Disneytown has a couple of familiar options. At Wolfgang Puck Kitchen, pizzas are $12 to $16, pastas $13-$25. The long menu at the Cheesecake Factory features burgers, sandwiches, pastas, and entrée salads for $13 to $25, with steaks starting at $40.
TO LEARN MORE
Tickets and Disneyland information.
For general information on China visas, transportation and other logistics, chinatravelguide.com is a good resource. The China National Tourist Office.
THE BEST WAY TO TOKYO
From LAX, JAL, United, All Nippon, American and Singapore offer nonstop service to Tokyo's Narita International Aiport, and United, Hawaiian, Asiana, Delta, American, EVA and Cathay Pacific offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares from $753, including taxes and fees. The Narita airport is about 40 miles from Tokyo Disneyland.
From Narita airport, there is bus service to the Tokyo Disney Resort (last bus 6 p.m.). The fare is $24 each way (half-price for children); the trip takes one hour. From Haneda, the transfer takes 45 minutes and the fare is $9 (last bus 7 p.m.). Coaches will drop you at any hotel on the resort property.
Subways link downtown Tokyo to the Maihama station, across the street from the resort main entrance, next to Ikspiari.
A monorail loops around the Tokyo Disney Resort, but this is primarily for those staying at the "official" hotels, which are about a mile from the park entrances. A one-day ticket costs $6 for adults, half-price for children; a two-day ticket is $8.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 81 (the country code for Japan), the area code and the local number.
VISITING TOKYO DISNEYLAND AND TOKYO DISNEYSEA
Weekends and local holidays are far more crowded than weekdays, but summer, Halloween and Christmas periods are also big draws. Buying tickets ahead of time is recommended when the parks will be crowded (tickets are date-specific); on peak admission days ticket sales may be suspended.
This useful website provides attendance estimates to help you dodge crowds.
One-day, one-park prices are $72 for adults, $63 for juniors age 12 to 17, $47 for children 4-11, and $66 for seniors 65 and older; children 3 and younger are free. Multi-day passports are also available. On most days discounted admission prices are in effect after 3 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and after 6 p.m. weekdays.
WHERE TO STAY
There are four Disney-branded hotels — three within walking distance of the parks and a fourth, less-expensive option, Tokyo Disney Celebration four miles away. Hotels at Tokyo Disney Resort book weeks in advance; weekend prices skyrocket well above the midweek rates.
Tokyo DisneySea Hotel MiraCosta, 1-13 Maihama, Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture; 45-330-5711. Located inside DisneySea (while accessed from outside), the MiraCosta is expensive, but location, volcano vistas and a Portofino aura sell it. Book four to six months ahead. Doubles from $479.
Tokyo Disneyland Hotel, 1-13 Urayasu, Maihama, Chiba Prefecture; 45-330-5711. A stone's throw from the Disneyland entrance, this lavish slice of Victoriana nails the period details. Doubles from $424.
Hilton Tokyo Bay, 279-0031 Urayasu-Shi, Maihama, Chiba Prefecture; (800) 445-8667. One of Tokyo Disney Resort's "official" hotels. The Hilton has a mod-futuristic "Celebro" room category and others called "Family Happy Magic" with fairy-tale forest decor. It's 10 minutes to the park entrances by monorail. Doubles from $147.
Best Western Tokyo Nishikasai, 6-17-9 Nishikasai, Edogawa, Tokyo Prefecture; (800) 780-7234. Basic digs for those on a budget; not all rooms have air conditioning. About four miles from the parks; although transportation is provided, plan on a taxi. Doubles from $92; singles also available.
WHERE TO EAT
Most dining inside the parks is counter style and hugely varied, especially at DisneySea; combo plates $8 to $14. At Disneyland, there is a selection of curried dishes at the Hungry Bear Restaurant and Mickey-shaped pizzas and roast chicken sandwiches served in a Chinese bun at Good Time Café. The Blue Bayou offers a sit-down menu of seafood and Creole fare in a familiar setting ($37 for a three-course set menu).
At DisneySea, I found dim sum and chicken and jellyfish salad at eerie Vulcania, pork and potato quesadillas at the Yucatan Base Camp Grill, and pastrami sandwiches at the Teddy Roosevelt Lounge. I had a set meal ($28 to $34) at Magellan's and, although the plate was carefully composed, the food did not impress. The service was attentive, and the room quiet and regal.
Better to step into the MiraCosta Hotel, where a beautiful Med-accented buffet spread can be enjoyed for $41. Or head out of the parks entirely to Ikspiari, an adjacent shopping mall with a terrific food court in the basement, with Asian meals for less than $10.
TO LEARN MORE
The resort's official site is a good starting point for researching tickets, park hours and transportation.
Tom Bricker's blog contains a wealth of information about Disney parks worldwide, but is particularly detailed for the Tokyo parks, which he considers the two best in the world.
THE BEST WAY TO HONG KONG
From LAX, Cathay Pacific and American offer nonstop service to Hong Kong, and EVA, JAL, and United offer connecting service (change of planes). Restricted round-trip fares from $535, including taxes and fees.
Hong Kong's airport is linked to the city by the Airport Express,, a fast train departing every 10 minutes The trip takes 24 minutes and the fare is $13 to the last stop, Hong Kong station. If traveling directly from the airport to the Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, a taxi ($20) is your best bet for the 10-minute trip to Lantau Island.
The clean, fast MTR — Hong Kong's Mass Transit Railway, is the best way to get around town and to Disneyland ($4, allow 30 minutes), which has its own station.
To call the numbers below from the U.S., dial 011 (the international dialing code), 852 (the country code for Hong Kong) and the local eight-digit number.
VISITING HONG KONG DISNEYLAND
Buying tickets ahead of time is not required. One-day prices are $70 for adults; $50 for children age 3 to 11, and $13 for seniors age 65 and older.
When attendance is low, some rides may close 30 to 60 minutes before the park's scheduled closing time. Hong Kong summers are generally hot and sticky, starting as early as April.
WHERE TO STAY
There are two Disney hotels near the park entrance, with a third, the 750-room Explorers Lodge, opening early next year. Once at Hong Kong Disneyland Resort, the only dining is inside the park or at pricey hotel venues, but these spots are the best kid-friendly options I saw.
Hong Kong Disneyland Hotel, Lantau Island, Hong Kong; 3510-6000. Reminiscent of the Hotel del Coronado, this classy Victorian-style resort facing the South China Sea is a half-mile walk or five-minute bus ride from the park entrance. Doubles from $336 are a decent value (watch for deals), considering Hong Kong hotel prices.
Disney's Hollywood Hotel, Lantau Island, Hong Kong; 3510-5000. The hotel lays on Hollywood themes with an Art Deco guise, a giant piano-shaped swimming pool and a courtyard filled with vintage cars. A 15-minute walk to the park entrance. Doubles from $239.
The easiest bases from which to experience both the city and theme park would be hotels in Tsim Sha Tsui or Mong Kok in Kowloon, or close to the Hong Kong metro station.
The Cordis, Hong Kong at Langham Place, No. 555 Shanghai St., Mong Kok, Kowloon, Hong Kong; 3552-3388, (800) 588-9141. Smart business hotel attached to a 15-story mall with lots of dining options. MTR's Olympic station is 10 minutes on foot. Doubles from $215.
Landmark Mandarin Oriental, 15 Queen's Road Central, Hong Kong; (800) 526-6566. This smaller, more modern offshoot of the nearby flagship Mandarin Oriental is worth a splurge for impeccable service, Michelin-starred dining and a swanky spa. Central station is right under the hotel. Doubles from $536 plus 10% service charge.
WHERE TO EAT
At Hong Kong Disneyland, several food options were closed on the day I visited, but those that were open had a more diverse menu than is typical for theme-park dining. For a taste of full-service Cantonese, set menus at the Plaza Inn ran $22 to $25.
At the counter-style options, combo plates were $13 to $18 and included such fare as noodles and barbecue at Clopin's Festival of Foods; lemongrass chicken and steak at the Tahitian Terrace; and mixed grill and pork bone ramen soup at the Royal Banquet Hall. I enjoyed the chicken and lamb tandoori combo at the Explorer's Club; the varied menu also included Indonesian, Japanese and Korean dishes.
No alcohol is served inside the park; for a midday quaff head to the Hollywood Hotel.
TO LEARN MORE
For tickets, park hours and other Disneyland info, go to hongkongdisneyland.com