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[The List]: Shanghai Theme Parks That Aren't Disneyland

Roller coasters, water slides, offbeat vibes, and parks that don't involve [anthropomorphic] mice.
By Jun 15, 2016 Travel


Shanghai Disneyland opens this week, and if you don't have a ticket, good luck with that. And good luck with the lines, the heat, and the madness. Maybe you'll get lucky and snag one of those turkey legs at 2pm. Luckily, Shanghai has several other fine theme parks, and hopefully the influx of people into Disney will free up some space at these, lest not they be overshadowed by the mouse!

1. Happy Valley

888 Linhu Lu near Linyin Da Dao, View ListingTaxi Printout

What Is It? A massive theme park in Songjiang that's been open since 2009, with seven roller coasters and a bunch of other rides featuring drops and splashes. The summer lines can get really long, but there's lots to do in the park. Occasionally, rides do break down and undergo maintenance -- hopefully not while you're on the ride (happened back in 2011). Most of the rides don't loop or go that fast, but they do generate a decent amount of G-force. We went there a few years ago and you can read about that experience in our Terminal Velocity article.

Remember that time when Donny worked there?

Open: Year-round. From May 28–June 24, 2016, hours are 9am-9pm. They usually have some special events going on for Halloween and other holidays, too.

Price: 230rmb for adults; 120rmb for children (1.2-1.5m); 100rmb for an evening pass, available from 5.30-9pm.

Worth It? Yup. It's been a while since we've been, but if the experience was half as good as last time, it's worth the trip. You could even stay the night and do the water park the next day.

How To Get There: The park is an hour from downtown by cab. Or, you can take Metro Line 9 to Sheshan and take a cab, or just cross the highway and get on the Happy Bus.

2. Jinjiang Action Park

201 Hongmei Lu, near Meilong Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

What Is It? This old park is in Shanghai city proper, with its own stop on Line 1 just south of Shanghai South Railway Station. They've got four roller coasters, a ferris wheel, a ghost train, a log flume, and a boat adventure. Two of the roller coasters go upside down, including the Giant Inverted Boomerang -- the wildest ride in the park. The Ferris wheel takes about 15 minutes to go around. We went a few years back and wrote about it.

Open: Year-round. From July 1-Aug 3, hours are 9am-10pm.

Price: 100rmb with six rides, 60rmb with two rides. An additional 40rmb for access to the sky rink.

Worth It? It's alright. The price has gone up a bit, but it's still cheaper than other options and you can get there on Line 1. Some offbeat vibes here, for sure. Probably a fun date if you've got a sense of humor.

How To Get There: Take Line 1 on the metro and get off at the Jinjiang Action Park station. It's a five minute walk from there. A cab from downtown will probably cost around 60rmb.

3. Playa Maya

888 Linhu Lu, near Linyin Da Dao View ListingTaxi Printout

What Is It? One of two big water parks in Shanghai, located right next to Happy Valley. The park design is world class, with a dozen full-sized water slides, a lame "wave" pool filled with a sub-district worth of people and a student rock band playing on the edge, slides for kids, cute stone sculptures of dragons and worms, some Filipinos dressed as Mayans (really???), a giant Mayan god who dumps water on everyone, "scuba diving" in what looks like a dirty fishtank with some Mayan relics, manmade bat caves and showers shaped like giant Sprite fountain dispensers, and acres of high quality stone flooring. Food is not great.

Open: Summer only. From June 18-July 1, hours are 10.30am-7.30pm. They're open until September 4, but times after July 1 have yet to be set.

Price: 120rmb for adults; 100rmb for children (1.2m-1.5m).

For a taste of the Maya, here is our POV down "The Magic Carpet."

Worth It? Totally. Again, we haven't been since 2014, but back then the place was great. Only complaints are the sub-canteen quality food and the amount of people.

How To Get There: Just like Happy Valley, the place is an hour from downtown. A cab might cost 150rmb. You can also just take Line 9 to the Sheshan station and either take a quick cab or jump on the Happy Bus.

4. Dino Beach

78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

What Is It? Shanghai water park #2 is gigantic and a bit older than Playa Maya. They've got one of the biggest fake beaches in Asia, one of the longest river rides, wave simulators, and a whole crew of water slides. The waves on the fake beach can rise up to 1.2 meters high. You'll need to rent an inner tube to go on some of the rides, and you end up carrying this around with you for most of the day. Mafan. The place gets packed and the water isn't the cleanest by the end of the day. We went to Dino Beach many years ago, and the attractions are mostly the same.

Open: Summer only. From June 24-July 9, hours are 9am-10pm. From July 9-August 21, hours are 9am-midnight. From August 22-September 4, hours are 9am-10pm.

Price: They have a really convoluted pricing system, but basically, prices range from 160-200rmb on weekdays and 220-260rmb on weekends depending on when you go. You can find out more on Dino Beach's website. Have fun with that.

Worth It? Yes, but try to go on a weekday rather than a weekend when there's less people.

How To Get There? You can take Line 12 to Hongshen Station. The park is a short walk from there. A cab from downtown will cost at least 70rmb.

5. Joypolis

3300 Zhongshan Bei Lu, near Jinshajiang Lu View ListingTaxi Printout

What Is It? Gaming giant Sega has this indoor amusement park in that weird, baroque Global Harbor Mall in Changning. They've got two floors of 3D interactive games, state-of-the-art virtual rides, driving simulators, a haunted house, bumper cars, and other cutting edge attractions.

Sadly, they do not have a classic Sega arcade with the likes of Sonic, Tails, Golden Axe, Virtua Cop, Virtua Fighter, Daytona USA, or Sega Bass Fishing. The highlight of the park are the Transformers Balls, a 4D chamber where players get strapped in a spinning ball.

Find out more in our Joypolis article.

Open: Year-round, from 10am-10pm.

Price: 198rmb for adults on weekdays and 248rmb on weekends. You can also get a night pass from 6-10pm for 180rmb. Children (1.1.m-1.4m) get in for 120rmb anytime.

Worth It? If you're a fan of Sega or video games in general, you'll have a good time here. And if you're not, you'll still probably have an alright time. The mall itself is wild too.

How To Get There? The mall is a five minute walk from Jinshajiang Metro Station on Line 13.

Bonus: The Hello Kitty Theme Park

What Is It? Remember this one? Located in Anji -- the bamboo forests where they shot Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon -- the Hello Kitty theme park was a mess when we visited in Jan, 2015. Maybe they got better? Not going back to find out.

They have…. some rides that might be fun for really young kids… some food that won't be fun for anyone… a parade that's actually pretty fun…. and lots of Kitty's castles.

Open: Year-round. Summer hours from July 1-August 31 are 10am-9pm. Regular hours, from September 1-June 30, are 10am-5pm.

Price: 290rmb for adults and 180rmb for children (1.1m-1.4m) from July 1-August 31. The rest of the year, it's 230rmb for adults and 140rmb for children. They have an evening pass from 4-9pm that's a bit cheaper too (adults: 160rmb, children: 130rmb).

Worth It? Only if you are a hardcore Hello Kitty fan. Like, you mainline condensed joy and cuteness and huff glitter.

How To Get There? If you DO want to go, you would need to get to Anji, which doesn't have a train station. You can take a train to Hangzhou North Station (buses supposedly leave every 20 minutes) or Hangzhou East Station (buses leave roughly every two hours). From the train station, it's still a two hour cab ride that will run at least 200rmb. If the whole fam is going, you might be better off just hiring a driver to take you from Shanghai.

You can find the full address and maps on Dianping.


Have you been to any of these parks? Tell us about your trip in the comments.



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