Posts/September, 2009/

Happy Valley Amusement Park, Shanghai

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Note: If you are looking for how to get to Happy Valley Amusement Park from Shanghai, take the Line 9 Subway South for quite a while to the Sheshan Station. Line 9 connects to Lines 3 and 4 at Yishan Road, but at the time of this writing, you have to exit the station and walk around the corner to connect. You will need to buy another subway ticket using this method. After arriving at Sheshan Station, there should be free full-size shuttle buses to the park that pick up across the street at the abandoned intersection near the fountain with all the shallow steps. Admission is 160RMB which includes all rides. I have a bunch of photos of my trip to Happy Valley midway through this post, so please keep reading.

On Saturday, J. and I slept in. When we rose, we were without breakfast foods. I had left my bike at work, so we rode two-up on her bike across town to Cafe 85° for some cheap lattes and pastries. I feel like we make a bit more of a spectacle when we share the same bike.

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Barbie flagship store on Huahai Rd.
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Girls outside a photo studio handing out pamphlets.
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Man in dump truck at intersection.
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Scooters.
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Under the massive elevated highway at Huahai Rd.
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Camel Active, whatever that might be.
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Brick walled old alley.
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Combover talks to biker.

That afternoon, we rushed to meet two friends at the Shanghai Indoor Stadium subway stop. We were heading out to Happy Valley Amusement Park, a recently opened and massive amusement park about 20 miles southwest of the city center. Our cab driver drove like a maniac to the station, but we met the fellows right on time. After riding Line 4 to it’s still unfinished transfer point to lines 3 and 9, we had to exit the station, walk along construction and back down the other side to enter line 9. From there, it was a long ride outside of town to the Sheshan stop. Once the train went above ground, it offered a bleak and interesting view of new apartments, odd track houses, and plots of farm land.

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Buying grilled meats under the elevated subway line.
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Subway construction.
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The Class building, not too classy.
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Truck in the VIP parking of the Class building.
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Fishing in filthy canal water under Line 9.

At Sheshan Station, we couldn’t find the free shuttle bus to Happy Valley, so we took a cab. But the cab couldn’t enter the parking lot, so we had to walk through the massive and mostly abandoned pavement to the entrance of the park. Tickets were 160RMB($23) each.

Happy Valley is a bizarre amusement park: massive, new but still worn out, full of exited and smiling Chinese. It has a Disney feel, but in a more disorganized and generic way. Walking through the fake buildings and souvenir stores along the entrance promenade, I gave the place the nickname “Uncanny Valley.”

Our first ride was Space Shot. Strapped in and shot into the air on a tower, we free-fell on the way down. The view from the top was spectacular. Immediately afterward, the gang wanted to get in line for Fireball, China’s first wooden roller coaster. As daylight was fading, I wanted to get some photos before it got dark. While they waited in line, I did a long loop around the park. I made it back, just as they finished.

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A. and I. walking towards Happy Valley from the massive parking lot.
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Posing.
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Security guarding nothing.
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Neither look very happy about being at Happy Valley.
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The red carpet entrance to the park.
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People getting their picture taken with Fireball in the background. It’s China’s only wooden roller-coaster.
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People on the flying swings.
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The Fireball ascension.
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The line for Space Shot and Turbo Drop.
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Three friends waiting for a shot into space.
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Our first ride of the day.
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Blocked off road behind the wooden coaster.
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Gyro Swing was getting tested with sandbags instead of people.
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Flowers.

On my walk, I stared with awe and fear and the generically named Diving Coaster. I just knew that everyone else would want to ride it. To me, it looked insane. Not only did it start from great heights, but it involved two vertical drops and a loop. As expected, they convinced me to ride it. And it was awesome.

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A quite insane looking coaster that I was talked onto riding. It’s called Diving Coaster because of two nearly vertical drops where you look straight down.
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Another view of Diving Coaster.
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Patriotic color scheme.
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A. and I photograph the Diving Coaster’s splashdown.
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Real trees, fake mountains.
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Trees along a canal.
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War horses on a break.
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Tents and performers look like their from another world.
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Fake canyon.
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The vast size of the park. Plenty of room to grow.
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Mega-lite coaster. Another I was talked into riding. This one was fast with a lot of low gravity hills and twists.
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Kid and father playing in dancing fountain.
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Three rows of flowers.
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CAUTION DANGER!
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Kids on a boat, shooting water at the passerby’s who were shooting water back.
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Granny with KFC bucket on head to keep her hair dry. Hahahahahahaha. Definitely the highlight of the day.
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Fake mining town.
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Desperado.
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Idle employees and electric carts.
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Dolphin.
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A massive splashdown of Shoot the Chute.
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Post splashdown, soggy people in thin panchos.
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Sad security.
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Old man overlooks the crowds.
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Helicopter circling the park.
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Racist sculptures.
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Garish reliefs atop the swings.
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Lion decoration on the carrousel.
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Wooden structure of the coaster.
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Looming in the polluted haze was an old Catholic Cathedral on a hill.
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Me and A. waiting in line for the scary coaster. A group of loud and annoying French adolescents was in line behind us.
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J.
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Secret door.
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Warning sign.
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The replacement train for Mega-lite
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Psychedelic tea cup ride.
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Green seating area.
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Fire hydrants.
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An endless group of youth in fatigues.
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Ring toss midway game.
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Fishing game.
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The rail around the lake.
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Tent for unknown purpose.
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Fireball coaster and Space Shot reflecting in the tranquil water.

Most of the rides were closing by 5:45, much earlier than we planned for. We tried out two more coasters and the flying swings. Then it was night. People began to congregate around the lake. It looked like there was going to be a fireworks show, but we had to head back before they started so one of the gang could make a dinner appointment. The shuttle bus barreled along an empty new road, running over frogs and honking at the bends. It is easy to image how Happy Valley will be the center of a flurry of new development out in the sticks.

The train ride home was crowded. Our more Mandarin-fluent member made conversation with an old bucktooth lady. I tried to rest my eyes. At the Indoor Stadium, our posse split. J. and I exited a few stops down and took the short walk back to our apartment. We were done for the day. It was 9PM, the perfect time to have some Indian food delivered.

One day I will return to Happy Valley.

Archives for September, 2009
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