Golden Week Part 2 – Happy Valley Amusement Park

Welcome back! Here is part 2 of my Golden Week Adventures. Happy Valley is really the only other major place that I went during the break. The rest of my week consisted of lots of sleeping/eating/relaxing; really taking in the time to soak in the city (or that’s what I’d like to believe haha). Now onto Happy Valley:

The Park

Happy Valley is an awesome amusement park located in Songjiang (if my readers know where that is haha) about 1.5 hours away from Fudan University by metro. My friends and I decided to check the park out despite multiple warnings about how dangerous and unmaintained the rides are. From the metro station there is a free shuttle bus that takes you right to the entrance of the park. We just followed the horde of people from the train to get to the nearby shuttle station. The park entrance fee was about $30 USD, not bad for a full day of entertainment. The design of Happy Valley is kind of like a Disneyland wannabe theme park. Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure all have heavy traces throughout the park. The entrance was a round plaza leading to a line of old-style shops with a train that can take you around the park which is built around a small lagoon with boardwalk themed rides. After 6pm half the rides close and only the lighted rides around the lagoon stay open until late with lots of street food snacks to munch on in line.

The Rides:

Despite some lack of theme originality, the rides were surprisingly impressive. The park has over 35 rides including quite a few modern rollercoasters like the Diving Coaster (绝顶雄风) which drops at a 90 degree angle. Here’s a picture courtesy of tucoaster: The highlight of the park for my friends and I was another rollercoaster called the Fireball (谷木游龙). The fireball is a large wooden roller coaster that is one of the best I’ve been on and it was the only ride we went back a few times for. I also enjoyed the Soaring Dragon ride which was basically the Chinese version of Soarin’ Over California in California adventure. The park has its fair share of strange attractions though, including a walk-through haunted house and 3D movie rides that just looked like blurry versions of the original film. Something I found interesting to learn was that Chinese people hate getting wet on rides, so much so that they sell ponchos for 5 RMB at the entrance of every water ride. It was pretty funny to see full boats of multi-colored ponchos going down the water rides. Here’s a picture of what I mean, courtesy of the theme park guy:

The Lines:

We visited on a Wednesday and there were not a lot of people in the park even though it was golden week. The longest we had to wait for a ride was 1.5 hours (most waits were about 30 minutes). As you may have heard Shanghai has a lot of people and with a lot of people comes a lot of impatience in China, especially when it comes to standing in line. I had read to watch out for cutters and pushy people, and I had come prepared for it, but for the most part people were civilized, except for a select few (I’m talking to you, fidgeting- pushing-coughing-yelling lady).

The Food:

Besides the ever-present KFCs, throughout the park there was a lot of delicious street food (like dumplings, skewers, noodles, tofu, and wraps). I think that the street food was probably one of the few uniquely Chinese aspects about the park.

Despite its Disneyland borrowings, the trip was well worth the visit and all of the rides we went on were a lot of fun. I highly recommend Happy Valley if you have some free time in Shanghai. It was a great escape from all the busyness and crowds typical of Shanghai. There may be some truth to the warnings of how dangerous the rides at Happy Valley are but I definitely never felt unsafe and we all made it out of the park alive (Hey, that’s all that counts, right?).