Grand Opening - How Was It?

Discussion in 'Hong Kong Disneyland and Shanghai Disneyland' started by Mr. X, Jun 16, 2016.

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  1. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

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    LPers who were in Shanghai today for the grand opening; how was the day? More importantly, how's the park? Inquiring minds want to know!
     
  2. Phroobar

    Phroobar Moderator

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    How were the lines?
     
  3. dagobert

    dagobert Well-Known Member

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  4. Phroobar

    Phroobar Moderator

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  5. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    I don't directly know anybody who was there, but from what I've seen it sounds like the first official day was pretty successful and everything was up and running.

    That said, the dedication plaque is pretty dreadful. I have no idea who came up with this, but it sounds like somebody started roughly with Walt's DL speech and then tried to jazz it up with all the current marketing buzz words. Do we really need the word "magical" twice in a speech this short?

    TO ALL WHO COME TO THIS HAPPY PLACE, WELCOME!

    SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND IS YOUR LAND.

    HERE YOU LEAVE TODAY AND DISCOVER IMAGINATIVE WORLDS OF FANTASY, ROMANCE AND ADVENTURE THAT WILL IGNITE THE MAGICAL DREAMS WITHIN ALL OF US.

    SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND IS AUTHENTICALLY DISNEY AND DISTINCTLY CHINESE. IT WAS CREATED FOR EVERYONE. BRINGING TO LIFE TIMELESS CHARACTERS AND STORIES IN A MAGICAL PLACE THAT WILL BE A SOURCE OF JOY, INSPIRATION AND MEMORIES FOR GENERATIONS TO COME.

    ROBERT A. IGER

    CHAIRMAN AND CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER OF THE WALT DISNEY COMPANY

    DEDICATED JUNE 16, 2016
     
  6. CuriousConstance

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    Bob looks a little too happy in this picture. :mad:
     
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  7. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    So, am I the only one in these parts that actually went to Shanghai for Opening Day? I'm on my way back to the US now, after 3 glorious days at the new park, and staying at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel. Wow, what an experience. I have so many stories to tell and things to share.

    The short story: the park and resort are wonderful. Easily a 3-day experience to do everything. The E tickets are top notch, including TRON and especially Pirates. Construction and build-out appears to be top quality. Some things weren't quite ready, and others need some fine tuning. But the park, hotel, and resort operated remarkably smoothly, all things considered. It's definitely a winner, and a "must see" for Disney park fans - it's worth a special trip. There were probably at least in the low hundreds of guests that had traveled from the US just to be there, and who weren't involved officially with the park, including several groups of CM's from WDW.

    More to come when I have time.
     
  8. Mr. X

    Mr. X Active Member

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    Can't wait!
     
  9. dagobert

    dagobert Well-Known Member

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    Can't wait to hear more about your trip.

    I followed several Disney fans on Twitter or Instagram and most had a wonderful time there.
     
  10. Phroobar

    Phroobar Moderator

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    What do you do there for three days? The park itself looks like a half day maybe a full day with crowds.
     
  11. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Well, I'm not sure what it "looks like" from afar over the Internet, but I was actually there, and I can assure you that it's far more than "a half day maybe a full day with crowds." By my count, there are 6 E-tickets, 3 indoor large stage shows, a parade, a "nighttime spectacular" with fireworks, lots of food, plus many lesser attractions, atmosphere entertainment, and shopping, and that's not even including just gazing around and enjoying the surroundings. You'd be hard pressed to get even just the E-tickets done in a single day if it's a busy day. I suppose you could do so, if you forgo all of the other offerings and wanted to spend almost all your time standing in line, but what would be the fun of that?

    Let me tell the story of my visit chronologically. I'll break it up into separate posts.
     
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  12. dagobert

    dagobert Well-Known Member

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  13. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    First, my arrival. I booked a 3-night stay at the Shanghai Disneyland Hotel, checking in on June 16, Opening Day. I had flown into Shanghai the previous day from Tokyo. While at Narita airport in Tokyo, standing in the exit Immigration line, I noticed a Japanese couple in front of us, one of them having a backpack with several Disney pins on it, one of which being a Disneyland 60th pin. Then I noticed from their boarding pass that they were on the same flight to Shanghai as we were. I struck up a conversation, asking if they were going to the SDL opening, which in fact they were, and sharing that we were as well. We became Facebook friends. Since we arrived in Shanghai the day before our SDLH reservations, we stayed at an off-site hotel for the first night. There, we met at least 5 other Western guests that were there for the same reason. This began a long chain of meeting other Disney fans that had come from all corners of the world to see the park opening.

    On the morning of Opening Day, we took a taxi to the hotel. That in of itself was a bit of an ordeal. The resort as a whole, and the hotel in particular, are too new to be on most online mapping services. Google maps doesn't know about it, either by name or street address. Same for Apple Maps. Same for Uber. And, apparently your average Shanghai taxi driver doesn't know about it either. Despite arranging with our hotel bellman to write down the destination in Chinese and calling ahead to the taxi company to send a suitable driver, the driver had no clue. Fortunately, I knew approximately where the resort was on a map, so we used Google Maps on our iPhone to zoom in on the resort, and via GPS locate where we were, and showed this to the driver, and that got him going in the general direction. Once we were within a couple of miles of the resort on the freeway, the rest of the way was well-signed, complete with the Mickey ears silhouette on the freeway signs. You definitely know that you've arrived at the resort, with its recognizable Disney landscaping and design, standing in stark contrast to the somewhat utilitarian surroundings.

    We arrived at the hotel at 9am, but check-in time was not until 3pm. As expected, I needed to check my bags at the bell desk because of this. At 9am, the lobby was jam packed with people. There were CM's everywhere. The registration desk had about twice as many CMs behind it as you'd think it could accommodate, and there were at least a half-dozen Western managers milling about. There had been invited guests staying on previous nights, but this was the first day that members of the general public could check in. There was a certain amount of confusion due to this, partly caused by the language barrier, but everyone was upbeat and everyone worked together to smooth out any problems that came up. I was in the same situation for Opening Day for Hong Kong Disneyland some 11 years ago, and the vibe was very similar: there was an almost-electric energy in the air, with many Disney invited guests and CMs checking out and saying their goodbyes after staying there in the run-up to Opening Day, and the new guests arriving.

    The local CMs in the hotel could not have been more friendly. Every time you encountered one in the hotel, they went out of their way to wave, smile, and greet you. This continued for the duration of my stay. Even if their English was limited, they were not shy about greeting you and trying to help, more so than any other Disney destination I've been to. We had a quick breakfast at the coffee/snack shop, and then went back to the lobby. By then, it was time for people that had invites to the official opening ceremony to assemble and board the buses to take them inside the park. Among other dignitaries, I saw George Lucas and John Lasseter. The lobby soon emptied, and we decided to hoof it over to the park to get in line. We had park tickets for that day, but did not learn until we got there that the park didn't open until 12pm that day, in order to make room for the official invite-only ceremony in the morning. For those not familiar with the resort layout, the SDLH is across a lake from the rest of the resort. There is a ferry for hotel guests only (and they do strictly check for room keys in both directions), but it didn't start until 12pm that day. So, we chose to take the alternate route and walk around the lake and over a bridge, which takes about 15 minutes.

    Upon arrival at the park entrance plaza, we found a very well-organized version of what could easily have been chaos. There were many thousands of people. First, they checked to make sure that we had park tickets, since it was a sold-out day. Then, we went through bag check. Then, we got in the lines in front of the turnstiles, which were already building even though it was 90+ minutes before park opening. Then, a CM came along and suggested that we were in the wrong line. I'm not sure quite how they knew this, but perhaps it was because we weren't locals. We had "print at home" tickets, which specifically said (paraphrasing) "No need to stop at the ticket office - proceed directly to the turnstile." But, this was not actually the case on this day, and we were directed to the ticket booths. After waiting in line for some 20 minutes, they took our printouts and gave us regular tickets. SDL uses the "Galaxy" ticketing system, which is what is used at DL but not WDW. Presumably, they will eventually be able to validate a print-at-home ticket at the turnstile and print a regular ticket on the spot as they do at DL, but this was not in place yet. But no worries - it's the first day, after all.

    After we got that taken care of, we tried to get back in line at the turnstiles, but were directed off to the side. We got directed into this cattle chute which lead us away from the entrance plaza and onto this enormous field of corralled switchbacks. It was covered in temporary astroturf, and covered many acres. It appeared to be set up for just that day, and could accommodate 10,000+ people, I'd guess. There was no shortage of CM's, including at least a hundred imported Westerners. They were fully rigged for the onslaught of guests: wristbands that were specific to the area you were lead into, portable bathrooms, mobile merchandise carts selling bottled water, ponchos, and umbrellas (it was raining off and on), and even temporary mobile cellular towers for each of the three carriers in China, so that guests could have uninterrupted voice and data communication with the outside.

    I had been wondering about how they would handle Guest Control for the opening. How do I say it - China isn't exactly known for people patiently waiting in line in an orderly fashion. Add to that the sheer number of people, and it can be a problem. Just 18 months ago, there was a New Years Eve stampede in Shanghai that resulted in 36 fatalities, due to lack of proper crowd control on the part of the authorities. I'm certain that both Disney and local officials were keenly aware of this, and did not want anything remotely close to that to spoil what was a major event for both Disney, and the local Shanghai government (which owns a majority interest in the resort), and which would garner international media attention. And prepared they were.

    In addition to a few uniformed Disney security personnel, there were hundreds of CMs in the pre-turnstile area, including many Westerners. And, there were at least three separate private security companies brought in, each with 100+ uniformed personnel scattered about. This, combined with an impressively-high level of planning and organization, kept everything orderly and under control. Despite the huge number of people, there was little sense of chaos - just a bit of confusion over what we were supposed to do and where we were to go, a lot of which was due to language issues.

    They opened the turnstiles 30 minutes early. It took us about 40 minutes from then to get to the front of the line and finally into the park. Once inside, another huge number of CM's, including many Westerners, were there to greet us. The energy and excitement in the air was wonderful.

    More to come...
     
  14. dagobert

    dagobert Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for your detailed trip report. I can't wait to read more. It sounds like despite opening day, everything went fine so far with just some minor problems.
     
  15. FerretAfros

    FerretAfros Well-Known Member

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    I'm not surprised, but glad to hear this. When I visited Beijing about 5 years ago, I felt more welcome there than any place else I've visited. Everybody seemed genuinely excited that we had traveled halfway around the world to visit their city, and do what they could do help us out. Shanghai was less overly friendly, but in general it seems like China has a lot of outgoing and welcoming people (especially compared to, say, France, which is known for being more insular)
     
  16. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Wow. That's pretty much the opposite of my general experience in China. I've not been to Beijing, so I can't speak to that, but I've been to Shanghai and Shenzhen several times, and at least as compared to Hong Kong or Japan, it's pretty much the opposite of friendly. If you don't speak Chinese, that's YOUR problem, not their problem, and many people seem to resent it when you make it their problem by trying to get service of some sort. Now, this doesn't happen in major hotels and restaurants that have many foreign customers, but I ran into it a lot elsewhere.
     
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  17. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    FastPass

    Shanghai Disneyland has FP for many attractions, including all what I'd consider E tickets, except Pirates, plus some D's. It works similar to the classic version, where you put your park ticket into a machine and it prints out a FP ticket, which you then show at both the FP return entrance, and then once again at the merge point where it's also collected. No Magic Bands. But, there is a twist: instead of a set of machines at each FP attraction, there's one central set of machines for each land. These machines issue FPs for all attractions in that land and for no others, so each set of machines handles 2-3 attractions. They have touch screens that display each FP attraction in that land, and the current return time. You insert your ticket, then select the attraction, then it issues the ticket.

    Although there are more machines at each station than for any individual attraction at the other parks, there are not 2-3x the number of machines, and each transaction takes a bit longer, since you have to select the attraction on the screen, so the line backs up. There were Tokyo-sized FP machine lines, like 30+ minutes in some cases. The rules for multiple FPs in one day are the same as always: the next FP is available at the start of the return window of your previous one, or two hours after issuance of your previous one, whichever comes first.

    Since most guests probably had never been to a Disney park before, I expected to use this to our great advantage, and milk FP for all it's worth. But, it didn't turn out that way. Perhaps because of social media, there were a great many guests that knew about FP, and the lines to get one were long, especially in the morning. The US strategy of maxing out with 2-3 FPs before noon wasn't going to work. In fact, we ended up not using FP nearly as much as we'd typically do in the US. This forced more of a balance between E tickets, lesser attractions, shows, streetmosphere, etc., than I'd typically have. Typically, I'd try to get as many E tickets done as possible, and do the other things toward the end of the day. In a way, it made things more pleasant. I did standby in the mornings, then after the FP rush was over by late morning, got my first one with a return time of the afternoon, then maybe a second one after that.


    Rope drop

    The second day, we were at the entrance plaza 15 minutes before opening, and it took about 20 minutes to get through the turnstiles. Making a beeline for the Adventure Isle FP station, the return times were already after 2pm that day, and a posted 3-hour standby time. RR seems to be the most popular attraction in the park, but part of it was caused by there being a lot of downtime. I suspect that once they have it fine tuned a bit better, things will improve. But the way it was the first couple of days, there simply was no way to ride it without investing at least an hour or two of waiting. Most other things in the park were reasonable in terms of the wait vs how many people were in the park.


    Turnstiles

    It did take a bit of time to get through the turnstiles on the second day. Reportedly, the government has made it a requirement that Disney collect the identity and photograph of every guest as they enter the park. For Chinese residents, this means showing and scanning their identity card. We purchased our tickets online and provided our identity to use a credit card, so perhaps that's how they got ours. But, they have a very clever item at each turnstile. Instead of a fixed scanner, they use a handheld barcode scanner wand to scan your ticket. The scanner also has a camera built into it, and they hold it such that it takes your picture at the same time as it scans your ticket. This is very unobtrusive and unobvious, and I would guess that most guests don't even realize that it's happening. Because of this extra process, and lack of experience with the system and how to handle various exceptions of ticket types, the turnstiles were slow. They did have every station open, but they can only go so fast. Things will improve somewhat as systems issues get worked out and CMs become better trained and experienced, but there's only so much they can do and still be doing the required checks. And, the entrance plaza already is built out the entire width with turnstile stations, so they'd have to do some major refactoring, such as adding a second row of turnstiles, to expand capacity.


    Bag check

    Bag check seemed to be more thorough than in the US, but otherwise about the same. They had many checkpoints that spanned the width of the entrance plaza, before you get to the ticket booths and turnstiles. There was something odd: at four checkpoints (the two on the far left and far right), they had x-ray machines for bags, and walk-through magnetometers and hand-held wands to screen each person, pretty much like at an airport. But, it was completely up to the guest as to which line they got in. Most of the lines had just a manual bag check and no check of your person. I went through one of the full-check lines once just to see what was up, but didn't learn much. One guess I had was that it was being done on a trial basis, to see how many people per hour they can get through those lines vs the regular lines, to see if it was feasible to deploy at all of the stations. Who knows. It certainly wasn't providing any additional security, as a Bad Person would simply choose one of the other lines.

    I'll start talking about the attractions in my next post.
     
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  18. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    (some spoilers in this post)


    Pirates of the Caribbean

    Most of you have probably seen the ride-through videos on YouTube. There's now one up in full HD. What can I say? It's an incredible ride. It's an entirely new take on the classic POTC ride: this one is based entirely on the movie franchise, although it does have a couple of clever nods to the classic ride. There are few AA's: maybe 3 of Captain Jack, and two others. The rest of it is done with huge projection screens and actual props. But, there's no sense of "Gee, another projection attraction done on the cheap." This isn't like Spiderman at Universal and its screens. Some of these screens are huge, as in several times the size of the Soarin' screen, with high resolution, brilliant color, and bright projection. They complement well with the built-out physical props. The boats have bench seating, but there are individual back cutouts for each guest, so each row seats exactly 5 people, and there are 6 rows per boat. Each row has a safety bar, and there's on-board music with stereo speakers at each seat. Although the boats do float in the water, they can move precisely when needed, including rotating and going backward. Near the beginning, you float by an inside eating area like at all the others except WDW, but in this case, it's just one of several rooms of a Quick Service Restaurant, and not table service. Although you can get an idea, you have to see this ride in person to understand the scope. Also, it's the only E-ticket without FP. I'm assuming it's a "people-eater" in terms of hourly capacity, but I don't know the specifics.


    Soaring over the Horizon

    This features the new film, which I understand debuted in one of the US parks already. But I suspect the preshow is completely different. Going through the queue, it felt like it was Indiana Jones at first. Going further into the queue, there were some pottery artifacts and other decorations that seemed to imply a "meso-American" / Native American culture. I was curious to see how this was going to tie into a Soarin' attraction. By the time we got to the front, it became obvious. The pre-show video shows a person in native American attire, talking about spirits and what a flying hawk represents. We were to become like the hawk, and fly around the world and see some things. I noticed that the film itself had no reference to this background story at all, so they could easily put it in Florida or California with a completely different queue and story without changing the film. The film was about as good as the original, but in higher quality and of course with footage from around the world and not just California. But, none of the smells made sense to me. I couldn't identify what they were or how they tied into the current scene.


    Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

    Similar to Florida's, with the same inside scenes. I think that the outside portion was longer than in Florida, and if so, due to not having space limitations. It didn't feel too short like the Florida one does. The dancing scene at the end at WDW is replaced with a much simpler version that's just a projected shadow.


    Pooh

    Pretty much like Florida or Hong Kong, but with updated special effects.


    Peter Pan

    Much updated special effects and overall technology, but same basic ride and ride system. Not overclocked like at WDW.


    Buzz Lightyear

    By far the best Buzz. A bit less cartoonish and more SciFi. But the main improvement is the pistols. They shoot a continuous bright, steady beam, like a laser pointer. One is red and one is green in each car. Because of the continuous, fine point, it's very easy to see where you're aiming. Plus, the target lights up with your beam's color when you hit it, so you know for sure that you hit the target and which one. It makes it much easier to aim and hit targets, removing one of the frustrations I've had with the other versions.


    TRON

    Unique to SDL, this is based on a "motorcycle" coaster ride system made by a third party, and dressed up as TRON light cycles. Surprisingly, the ride system can safely accommodate a wide variety of guest body sizes and shapes, including I would guess people at least 300 lbs. The limiting factor seems to be calf size, rather than any other part of the body, as there is a bar that extends behind the calves as part of what secures you in the ride vehicle. So, if you have very large calves, or aren't mobile enough to situate yourself on the light cycle, or don't have two legs, they do have one train with a two-seat traditional coaster seating that replaces the rear-most pair of light cycles. The YouTube videos show mostly what it's about, but don't really give a complete picture. The ride seems short on the video, but not so much when you actually ride it. Part of the queue goes above the part of the track that's immediately after you leave the station and before you launch. Because your position on the vehicle is so unique, lots of people gasp or scream just as they leave the station, and pretty much everyone has an enormous smile on their faces even before they launch. This is so different than most coasters, where it doesn't get exciting until you get moving fast. A definite crowd-pleaser.
     
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  19. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Shows

    All three stage shows took place in large auditoriums, with many shows throughout the day. No FP available. Even though I was there on a busy day, two of the shows were only 30-40% full. So, these are good options when the lines are long elsewhere, and/or you want to be somewhere cool for 45 minutes. The only one that filled up was the Frozen sing-along.


    Tarzan

    Tells the story of Tarzan, from his birth and as he grows up. It's almost a "theater in the round", with a large rectangular stage with bench stadium seating around 3 sides. Although the story of the show is Tarzan, it's really just an excuse to put on a Shanghai Circus. You can look at YouTube to see what those are like.


    Captain Jack's Stunt Spectacular

    Pretty much as it sounds. A good portion of the show takes place in the pre-show inside lobby, which is interesting. Once in the main auditorium, the main show begins. It's quite entertaining, and there's a final scene involving the ship sailing into a storm that has amazing stuntwork that I've never seen in a stage show before - I won't spoil it here.


    Frozen sing-along

    Takes place in a traditional Broadway-style theater. All of the Frozen characters are there, and they go through the major songs in rapid succession, somewhat telling the story. Not as many in the audience participated in the singing as I was expecting. They have subtitles during the singing part, with a bouncing snowflake to show the current position, but it's all in Mandarin, so unless you know that language, it's a passive experience, unless you want to sing the songs in English and clash with everyone else. The show has pretty good sets and in-theater effects.
     
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  20. SuperDry

    SuperDry Member

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    Food

    Most of the food in the park is QSR (Quick Service Restaurant, aka counter service). They do have character dining, and perhaps the Chinese Tea House has table service, but we didn't do any of those. We happened to run into the CM that was in charge of the food (a French guy - I don't remember his name), and he shared a few things with us. There's a notable absence of table service dining in the park, because Disneytown is immediately next door. In fact, there's a separate park entrance to Disneytown with just a couple of turnstiles. Anyone can leave through that gate, but you can enter that way only if you're re-entering for the day. The idea is that if you want to have a full-service meal, you just pop out to Disneytown and eat there. They have many local and international selections, such as Blue Frog (local chain), Wolfgang Puck, and Cheesecake Factory, as well as some that I think may be single-location restaurants. And they're really close to that side park gate: anywhere from a few seconds to 2 minutes of walking. That's an interesting concept, and the first time it's been designed that way from the beginning for a park, at least as far as I can think of. It allows third-party operators to run the full-service restaurants, while at the same time keeping non-Disney brands out of the park itself. It also allows those restaurants to draw from both the people in the park, and those just going to Disneytown without park admission. I'm sure Wolfgang will be particularly happy about that one!

    As far as food in the park, it's a mix of Western and Chinese fare. They did things differently than they did at HKDL. There, the food is about half and half, with half of the food outlets being Chinese, and half Western. What the SDL food manager told us what they found was that kids almost always will choose the Western option, and the grandparent generation will almost always choose the Chinese option, and those in middle age could go either way. So, at SDL, almost all of the QSR locations have both Chinese and Western entrees instead of just one or the other, so that the whole family can eat at one place and have something for everyone.

    I found the quality of food to be highly variable. The first meal I had was at Barbosa's, which is located next to Pirates and has one of the indoor seating areas overlooking the Pirates boats as they float by. I had the pork ribs, which were both delicious and in generous quantity. I thought they'd hit it out of the park (so to say) if all of the food was like that, but unfortunately it was not. I also had a Mongolian Beef bowl at another location, and it was low quality beef which was bland and tasteless. They have burgers in Tomorrowland: only one of them is a beef burger, as they also have chicken, and I think fish and one other kind. Not quite as good as what they have at WDW MK, but still pretty good by theme park standards. None of the food places seemed to have utensils, napkins, or condiments set out - instead, they give you what you need as part of your order. I guess less waste this way.

    There were also a variety of outdoor vending options, with lots of interesting things. Bottled water was about US$1.50, which seemed like a bargain for a theme park (although there were articles in the local paper about how expensive that was), and they also had at least one filtered water station that was designed not for direct drinking, but to fill up your own water bottle for free. In addition to some Chinese varieties I didn't recognize, they also had Pepsi and 7-Up as soft drink selections. No real options for Diet cola drinkers.
     

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