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That Time Our Taxi Driver Left Us On the Highway

Kenny blogs more extensively about Disney travel over at Mouse Hacking, where we’ve also got a guide to planning a trip to Shanghai Disney Resort.

While we won’t say we chose Shanghai as a destination because of its new Shanghai Disney Resort, it certainly played a role. You would think that two Disney fans would quickly find their comfort zone starting a new city at a Disney resort, but we manage to hit some bumps on the way.

We had heard that taxi drivers have some difficulty finding Shanghai Disney Resort or at least specific destinations therein. So when we arrived at the airport in Shanghai (PVG), we briefly checked for an easy, obvious shuttle option (we had heard one existed). We did not immediately find one, so we decided to just go with an official taxi.

When you arrive in PVG, you’ll hear a variety of people saying “taxi taxi” to you, especially if you’re a tourist (and as Americans with our huge backpacks, we could not look more like tourists). These car services will invariably charge you more than an official taxi. There is an official taxi line clearly marked and managed at the airport, so we would suggest using that, but, well, read on…

We had the Chinese address for Shanghai Disneyland Hotel pulled up on our phone, as well as the bodu maps app (local government-approved app) with the Chinese address and location pulled up. So we show the taxi driver when we got into the cab, and while he did take a second look at it, he seemed confident he could get us there.

(Okay. I have to preface this next paragraph by saying you must read on and read all the good things we have to say about Shanghai Disney Resort before letting this paragraph be the end of it.)

Well, he got us most of the way. He mistook the turn for Disneyland instead of the Disney Hotels and went the wrong way. He was unsure, and I knew it was wrong but didn’t make a loud enough sound until it was too late. The road clearly didn’t have a viable place to turn around and there was no way for the driver to get back on track in the foreseeable distance. He (kindly) pulled over just past the missed turn and asked us to get out … in the middle of a highway with no sidewalks.

kay. So, at this point you’re probably expecting a “we said ‘no,’ but he didn’t understand and he yelled at us and we pointed to the map and told him to go around” sort of story, but none of that happened.

I knew we were about a mile away and (in case you didn’t know) we’re backpackers right now, so roughing it is kind of what we do. I considered pushing it a little, but Emily felt uncomfortable and was game for a walk down the highway. We hopped out as he apologized.

Emily rightfully pointed out that the level of regulation around the taxi drivers (when we got in, the airport staff asked us for our destination and took a picture of his odometer) might have made driving around to find the hotel difficult (and possibly illegal) for the driver.

Regardless, we walked up the highway a little way until we got to a median at the then turn our driver missed. We are standing there in the middle of six lanes of traffic looking pathetic  when some police showed up. We tried to explain that our cab driver left us here using Google Translate and they laughed, but we’re not sure if it was because they understood or because they didn’t. Either way, they helped us finish crossing the street and allowed us through a restricted entry to Disneytown, which eventually got us back to the pedestrian crosswalk to our hotel.

We talked along the way about how our parents or an exhausted family finishing a long travel day would have handled the situation. It would have understandably been an awful thing to happen to many people. Fortunately, we handle these sorts of things pretty well and were able to quickly regroup and work to find a solution. When we actually did make our way back to the hotel, we had to laugh at how crazy the situation was.

Looking back, we probably should have told him to keep driving to the park, where we could have caught the shuttle to the hotel. This was the direction he was now heading after missing this turn, anyway.

This isn’t the only horror story we’ve heard about taking taxis to Shanghai Disney, and we can’t know how your ride might go wrong, but we should say that our driver did get us to Disney property, on a reasonable, metered rate (73 RMB), and probably could have gotten us within a shuttle ride of the hotel if we had thought better on our toes.<

This one just goes down in the books as another #traveladventure.