Hannah Symister, seasoned veteran of the Disney world, offers some inside tips.
What's so unique?
With a trip to Disneyland on the horizon, my 4-year-old is extremely excited and counting down the sleeps.
Going to Disneyland is just a small part of an extensive trip, which is going to be one of the most spectacular to date, but my youngster is most excited, of course, about seeing Mickey and experiencing the thrilling rides. Mostly seeing Mickey though.
We have delighted in the adventures of Disney Parks in different countries several times over the years (we started before we had children). This time, for the first time, we will be travelling to Shanghai and enjoying the rides on the newest Disneyland, opened in 2016.
There are 11 Disney Parks around the world, but only five of them are Disneyland. The others have various names but all (apart from Epcot) have Disney in the title. Experiencing Disneyland around the world, it is intriguing to discover just how different, or similar, the parks really are.
Will Disneyland meet expectations when presented in another language? Will I find the usual Starbucks or McDonald's? Here are a few interesting, and little-known facts about the Disneylands around the world.
The Disney Castle
Most know that the iconic pink Disney castle was inspired by the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria. The lesser known fact about the castle everyone loves to take a selfie in front of is that each Disney Park has its own unique castle. Shanghai's Disneyland is home to the largest of them, the Enchanted Storybook Castle. The Sleeping Beauty Castle sits on Main St at Disneyland in Anaheim and the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida features Cinderella's Castle, which is 30m taller than the one in Anaheim. Although the castles may appear to be the same colour, they are all painted slightly differently. Le Chateau de la Belle au Bois Dormant in Paris Disneyland houses a 27m-long dragon, which, at the time of completion, was the largest animatronic figure ever built. Cinderella's Castle in Tokyo features a fairy tale hall, which shows various pictures of Cinderella's life, some of which reveal a secret message when photographed with a flash. Maybe the best feature of all is the luxury suite built into Cinderella's Castle in Florida where some lucky people have had the chance to spend the night.
Every Disney Park is designed around the culture of the city it sits in.
Hong Kong Disneyland is designed with feng shui in mind; as you enter the gates the path curves, to create good fortune. You can also find Disney character-shaped dim sum at some of Hong Kong Disney's restaurants. Milk tea-flavoured popcorn is served at stores in Tokyo Disney as well as green alien (Toy Story) mochi dumplings. The Orbitron ride in Paris Disneyland is inspired by Renaissance artists' sketches and designs of astrological devices, and the much-loved French author Jules Verne is the inspiration for Discoveryland's design. The Gardens of Imagination are unique to Shanghai Disneyland and showcase beautiful gardens, zodiac murals and a teahouse offering traditional Chinese food.
No alcohol? Pardonne-moi? ...
When in France, live like the French. Disney Parks around the world generally have a no-alcohol policy, but the French complained so much about the lack of wine while dining that the ban on alcohol was lifted soon after Paris Disneyland opened.
Full to capacity
You won't have a problem buying a ticket at any Disneyland, except for Shanghai. Days can be sold out as it caps the number of tickets sold. This is unique to Shanghai and you shouldn't need to worry if you turn up at midday at any other Disneyland without buying a ticket in advance.
I assumed Disneyland tickets were the same throughout the world, give or take a small amount for the exchange rate. Oh, how wrong I was. Disneyland Paris is not the smallest, but is the least expensive.
Hong Kong is the smallest, yet is one of the most expensive, and the largest, in Florida, is the most expensive.
Some rides are found at more than one Disneyland Park, but all are slightly different. Some will use identical vehicles or tracks, but you won't find a ride which is exactly the same. Every Disneyland also has a ride unique to its park. In Anaheim it is the Bobsleds, in Shanghai it is TRON, Hong Kong has The Iron Man Experience, Tokyo Disneyland has Pooh's Hunny Hunt and Monsters, Inc. Ride & Go Seek!
These unique rides are quite often the best, most thrilling of all the attractions and a must-do while at Disneyland.