The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is Shanghai’s MySpace page. It’s there — forever — you can’t delete it, there is no deleting it; it will stand for all time as the embodiment all the naff, impractical, fantastical, purple, improbably pure ideas young Shanghai had about life and the future — as it so envisioned them in the heady early '90s. It’s atrocious goth poetry. It’s architectural goth poetry. It’s misguided rebellion. It's that first Sci-Fi novel sitting unpublished in your mum's basement. It's a punk rock zine ended at issue 1.5. It's your high school band that sounded like crap Weezer. It's that Tarantino-influenced screenplay you were working on with your buddy Steve, what ever happened to Steve?
It’s… ***cringe***... were we ever so young!
Is it worth visiting? Oh god yes. Especially now. You have to go. These days, people are surfing right on by the OPTV Tower, making their way up to the bigger kids on the block — the SWFC, the Shanghai Tower. The OPTV Tower has been forgotten — the inside of it anyways. And on the inside, the OPTV has been left to its own devices. Wonderful, ridiculous devices. It’s gone off the rails. It’s gotten senile; it’s gotten crazy. It’s nutty in there. It’s bizarre. It’s like they tossed the front door keys to a cable access science show host and said hey, do whatever.
The Virtual Reality Roller Coaster
What I’m trying to tell you is that the first ball — the main ball of the OPTV Tower — has a VR Roller Coaster in it now. Seriously.
Installed three months ago but shit was broken until like yesterday, the VR Roller Coaster is utilizes the latest in 2003 technology for a 15-second THRILL RIDE that zooms through the air at 9 million miles per hour across imaginary tracks along Shanghai’s skyline.
It’s. Fucking. Awesome. (For 15 seconds.)
It scared me to DEATH. Had to shut my eyes and pray to Christ himself when we went flying through the hole of the Bottle Opener Tower, like OH MY FUUUUUUUUUUU…
Recommended. More images of what it looks like here.
So, yeah, that’s sweet. Want more?
Let me ask you a question, my friend: How many dimensions are you enjoying your cinema in these days, my friend? 2? 3? Try FIVE, my friend.
Game City’s 5D Cinema
The big ball of the OPTV tower is basically a janky arcade these days called “Game City”. It’s dim, dusty, grungy, it’s got those claw machines. It’s got House of the Dead (bonus) and a bunch of driving games. Looks like a pretty swell place to sell weed actually, except for its location, which is "1 Century Avenue" in a ball a couple hundred meters off the ground. For weed dealers this must be the job posting equivalent of those FBI agents that end up getting stationed in the Yukon ‘cause they play by their own rules.
But they have this: A FIVE DIMENSIONS CINEMA.
So, the story is you’re like a deep sea diver and swimming with fishes and dolphins and things! On a 7-minute THRILL RIDE (yes), you go down to the ocean deep, to swim with strange and wonderful fishes, gliding through sunken galleons, dodging sharks, and, at one point, even getting swallowed by a whale! Neat! Recommended.
Sometimes a blue ERROR message flashes on the screen, which I though was a helluva plot twist!
It works like this: first dimension is like a dot right? Just a single dot. Second dimension is a plane — like a flat object. Yeah, it can do that. It can handle that. No problems, mate. Third dimension is an object right. X-Y-Z axis. So yeah, it’s 3D. They give you 3D glasses. Check. A bunch of fish are swimming out at you! It’s nuts. In 3D! Fourth dimension is… I think “time”? Like, the actual movie they play for you is 7 minutes long so that’s time going by. They’ve got the fourth dimension. Check.
Fifth Dimension! Fifth dimension is… are you ready?
THEY BLOW BUBBLES ON YOU.
Towards the end of the thing about 18 bubbles flutter down from the ceiling like blubblublbublbub, and it’s wonderful. And then lights come on and it’s over. Recommended.
“Space Capsule Sight Seeing Floor Different Feeling”
Taking it to the limit here, y’all. Now we’re in the top ball of the OPTV — THE TOP BALL — at the “Space Capsule Sight Seeing Floor Different Feeling”, which looks like exactly a space-themed porn set-meets-dream sequence set in an insane asylum that's thrust upwards 351 meters into the heavens. Recommended.
Seriously recognizing some props from PornHub videos in here. Don’t know if that says something about me or them or both? But yeah, feels like any minute Ron Jeremy is going to round the corner, wearing a bunch of tinfoil on his chest and a biker’s helmet with coat-hangers sticking out of it, talking about how we need MAXIMUM THRUST to break through the earth’s atmosphere.
And then I wake up into a dream within a dream within a dream!
But yeah, I’d have to give a grudging recommendation to “Space Capsule Sight Seeing Floor Different Feeling” as well. Recommended. Lock it in.
Prices and Schedule
Entry into the OPTV Tower is 160rmb. You have to pay that JUST TO LOOK AT IT. (Nah, that gets you to the Transparent Observatory AKA the Second Ball.). To get on the roller coaster it's 70rmb. 5D Cinema is 25rmb. Space porno-slash-nervous breakdown fantasy at the very top ball is 80rmb on the barrel.
Times: The Tower is open seven days a week from 8am to 9.30pm. The roller coaster is operating from 9.30am-12.30pm; 1.30pm-6pm; and 6.30pm-9pm.
The Oriental Pearl TV Tower is at 1 Century Avenue, near Lujiazui Huan Lu. Just close your eyes, look in your heart, and it's there.