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SMARTSHANGHAI'S ESSENTIAL GUIDE TO

PUDONG

Last Updated June 2019


Consider this a love letter to objectively the best district in Shanghai. What follows is a list of just a fractional, tiny segment of all its wonderful bounteous glory.


  • What Is Pudong?

    Pudong is new Shanghai. It’s an unfair punching bag for those who live in the cramped confines of Puxi, and an unmitigated success story for the politicians who master-planned its development and are now watching it rack up higher GDP than almost all other entire cities in China.

    Geographically, it’s massive. It’s bigger than Singapore by a good margin (Pudong: 1,210 sq km, Singapore: 721 sq km) and has a population of 5.5 million people — if Pudong was a city in the United States, it would be the second-biggest, far ahead of the current #2, Los Angeles (4 million people). It stretches from the glass and steel towers of Lujiazui in the northwest, facing the Old Bund, to the ghost town of Dishui Hu in the southeast, and encompasses both the world’s busiest port, the majority of the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, and one of the world’s busiest airports. Basically, Pudong is a massive superlative. It’s the biggest, baddest, richest Shanghai district. But it’s also diverse, given its size, and it’s way more than just the skyscraper forests of Lujiazui.
    In fact, Pudong used to be salt marshes and agricultural land hundreds of years ago, when salt was controlled by the government and the entire Jiangnan coast prospered by harvesting it. More recently, what we now think of as Pudong was called Chuansha; it wasn’t until the early 90s that the Shanghai government officially created “Pudong New District” as it's known to the bureaucrats. According to the folklore, in its heady rush to create Lujiazui in the 1990s and 2000s, Pudong was home to ¼ of the world’s construction cranes.

    And yet, it’s still so unloved. It’s Wikipedia page is TEN YEARS out of date. The district gets derided as Pu-Jersey, the unwanted and un-fun no-man’s land of Shanghai. That’s not right! So, a guide to just a few of the many, many things that should draw you across the river.
  • How To Get There

    Your options are metro, bridge or car. The metro is fairly self-explanatory: Line 2 dips directly under the river from East Nanjing Road to the Lujiazui hub and is the fastest way to get to Pudong from most of Puxi. Elsewhere, Line 9 crosses from South Bund to Shangcheng Lu and then Century Avenue, while Lines 4, 8 and 13 cross down around Nanpu and Lupu Bridges.
    Speaking of bridges, Shanghai has some pretty sweet bridges. Nanpu is that graceful spiral one that flies past the South Bund Fabric Market, and is a favorite of photographers. For those heading to Pudong Airport or the former Expo area, you'll likely end up on the six-lane Lupu Bridge, which opened in 2003 as the longest arch bridge in the world. Further north, you've got the Yangpu Bridge connecting Yangpu to Pudong, one of the longest cable-stayed bridges in the world flying 48 meters over the river. Interesting factoid, the characters on each of the pylons were originally hand-painted by Deng Xiaoping!

    Of course, if you're taking a taxi towards Lujiazui, you're more likely to just end up going under the river in one of the three very unscenic tunnels.
    One of the more picturesque ways to get across (and the only way with your own bike) are the ferry terminals. There are 17 ferries in total crossing the Huangpu River (excluding the tourist ferries), but for downtown transfers, here're the four most conveniently located ones.
  • How To Get Around

    If we hadn't made it clear yet, Pudong's uuuge. Shared bikes are great for downtown, where everything's within a 15km square, but the distances between hubs in Pudong can be vast. The metro is a great resource for heading east to west, but you'll find that traveling north-south is a bit harder: it either requires you to take a metro all the way to a central hub like Century Avenue, or getting a ride-hailing app.

    Here's an idea: consider taking the bus? It might seem slower, but since it often doesn't require changing lines, it can actually take about the same amount of time. For example, getting from Disneyland to the Shimao Riviera pool would take you about an hour and a half by metro but takes 2 changes, whereas a bus takes an hour and 20 minutes and only requires one exchange.
  • The Pudong Hubs

    Lujiazui in the 80s.

    Lujiazui

    Tomorrowland! This is the financial heart of Shanghai and the home to the city's most recognizable buildings, including the big four: the Pearl Tower, the Jin Mao, the SWFC and the Shanghai Tower. Love it or hate it, you can't deny it looks good. Tourists tend to agree: the elevated ring and the convenient skyways along Century Avenue are full of photographers. This is where you'll find the Super Brand Mall, the IFC mall, Shanghai's flagship Apple and Disney stores. They've also cleaned up the embankments, so you can actually enjoy a walk along the river, and the Pucheng Lu street directly south of the Pearl Tower has a bunch of restaurants with promenade seating.

    Qiantan

    Lujiazui is built out. There’s no more space there. So the government arm that developed it is looking south for expansion. What they’ve found is Qiantan, a 2.5+ square kilometer area next to the Oriental Sports Centre, near the old World Expo 2010 site and along the river. And when these planners start something, they finish it. They’ve roped in a bunch of international developers to build the office space, and are also putting in things like a new NYU campus, a Wellington College, a medical center by Raffles and a new Shangri-La hotel. Expect people to be talking about it around 2021 or so.
    Big Bamboo Shanghai

    Jinqiao

    Shanghai's take on suburban bliss, this is the family-friendly district north-east of Lujiazui. A lot of high-end apartment compounds and schools, plus there's also a fair amount of foreigner-friendly F&B: the stretch around the Hongfeng Lu/Biyun Lu has a Big Bamboo, a Pistolera, a Yasmine's, Da Marco and an Element Fresh.
    Century Park Shanghai

    Century Park

    The emerald at the heart of the district, Century Park is Lujiazui's Central Park, minus the drug dealing and prostitution. Covering 346 acres, it's the largest park in Shanghai, with woodland, a massive central lake, and tons of green spaces to lie down on, play frisbee, or whatever. You can also rent tandem bicycles or sightseeing boats. As you can imagine, housing around it is in high demand. Notable nearby areas are the Kerry Center mall, Fangdian Lu and the Expo Center.
  • A Very Incomplete List Of Things You Only Get In Pudong

    1. The Riverside Trail

    Huangpu Riverside Trail is a dedicated stretch of bike (and pedestrian, but mostly bike) path, awaits on just the other side of the river. A whopping 25 kilometers in length, it's well-lit, verdant and only occasionally overrun by pedestrians.

    2. The Shanghai Tower Observation Deck

    Shanghai might not boast the highest tower in the world, but it does have the tallest observation deck in the world, right at the tippity-tippy-toppy-top, with a 360 degree panoramic view of the city. The 118th floor is always open, but on the busier weekends, they open up the 119th so you can get those crucial extra meters of flex over Puxi.

    3. The Best Aquarium

    From high to low: Pudong holds the monopoly on Shanghai's best aquarium. The Ocean Aquarium houses some 10,000 varieties of sea animals, from giant sting rays, sharks, penguins, seals, possibly the coolest jellyfish display in the world, and the world's longest tunnel, featuring its own moving sidewalk. It's a cool 160rmb to get in. Go during the week: that glass was designed to resist the thousand drumming fists of the weekend crowds, but it can still be stressful.

    4. Facial Recognition Toilet Paper Dispensers

    Facial recognition toilet paper dispenser! Yup! Apparently bathroom wipes are a hot-button issue for the bean-counters, with over 700,000rmb flushed away annually in Jing'an alone. Along the Huangpu Riverside Trail, they have these dispensers for toilet paper that scan your face and won't let you go for seconds. Good for a WeChat moment. We're really living in the future now!

    5. The Last Major Fake Market

    Go get a fake designer tee! A rare beast, the last of its kind... AP Plaza, aka the Science and Technology Fake Market, aka AP Xinyang Plaza, is the largest remaining major collective of hawkers, rip-off artists and geegaw hucksters. There used to be several of these, but they've gradually been phased out in favor of glitzy shopping malls. Bargain hard and be prepared to walk away.

    6. Pudong Canal Towns

    Qibao and Zhujiajiao get all the love, but Pudong has its own: Xinchang (新场古镇), a major viewing point for peach blossoms. Plus, it has its own metro station on Line 16!

    7. Visit The "Original" Pudong

    The old town that gave Pudong its original name has been kept somewhat preserved. Famous for its brick makers and sporting some nice-looking old mansions, Chuansha has its own metro station, is way less touristy than some of the other centers around town, and is worth a day-trip.

    8. Soy Sauce Brewed in the Traditional Way

    Call ahead to request a private tour at Qianwanlong, the only traditional soy sauce factory left in Shanghai. Once the only way to make soy sauce, their antiquated methods and long aging process are now a sought-after commodity and a single jar of soy sauce goes for up to 40rmb. The factory and its methods date back to the end of the Qing Dynasty in the late 1800s; check out their original wooden sign from that period, which they have managed to preserve.

    9. The Wild Animal Park

    Off the S32 Highway, the Wild Animal Park features over 200 species and two different options for viewing them. Visitors can walk through the exhibits housing the animals or take a bus to view the more dangerous critters. Just remember to stay inside the car. There is also a performance zone, a bird zone and an animal kindergarten. And, critically, conditions aren't as awful as at the Shanghai Zoo.

    10. The Best Road Cycling

    If the bike path along the Huangpu was a bit too leisurely for your tricked-out carbon-fibre ride, Pudong has the best road cycling in the city. The asphalt rivers are new, wide, very long and often devoid of traffic. Plus, the further out you get, the nicer the countryside gets.

    11. Renovated Historic Art Centers

    Pudong's legacy as a center for warehouses and dockyards has left it with lots of big old buildings ripe for renewal. One example is MIFA 1862, a 155-year old shipyard converted into a public art center. There's always something on there. Another example is the Silo of 80,000 Tons, which used to be the largest grain store in Jiangnan, although it's not open year round.

    12. Bird Watching in Nanhui

    The Nanhui wetlands are a paradise for birding with nearly 350 species of birds hiding in the reeds. Getting out there can be a bit of a hassle, but if you want to reconnect a bit with nature, you don't even have to leave the city.

    13. A Legitimate Traditional Chinese Medicine Museum

    As the official museum attached to the Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, this is one of the better representatives of the field. Originally established in 1983, it's got 4,000sqm of exhibition space packed with interesting artefacts and tools stretching from ancient to modern practices, and a 10,000sqm herb garden.

    14. Coca Cola Museum

    There's a big Coca-Cola factory out in Pudong that also houses a museum. They only accept tour groups of 10 or more, booked ahead of time, but it'll include a tour of the manufacturing line! Go see what they put in the gods' dark nectar.

    15. The Aurora Museum

    Check out this modern, sleek-looking six-story museum on the Pudong banks of the Huangpu, housing Chinese artifacts. Opened in 2013, the museum's well-regarded for its collection of jade, porcelain, and sculptures dating from throughout China's history. Tickets are a slim 60rmb.

    16. Glamping in a National Park

    So glamorous. Book a fully-furnished tent (or bring your own), and camp out in the Haiwan National Forest Park at Niulu Camping Resort on the northern coast of the Hangzhou Bay. Open year-round, they've got plenty of big green spaces to play with your kids, dogs or fellow humans, there's a lake, options for horse riding, and, very important, BBQ facilities. Make sure you bring mosquito repellent.

    17. The Biggest Ice Rink in the City

    At 1,200sqm, the All Star Skating Club inside the Mercedes-Benz Arena is probably the biggest, and definitely the nicest, skating rink in Shanghai. Pricing is 80rmb for 90 minutes including skates on the weekends, and about 20rmb cheaper during the weekdays.

    18. The Highest Teahouse in Shanghai

    Da Ke Tang, a popular chain of teahouses, has a spot on the 38th floor of the Shanghai Tower. It's refined. The teaware is delicate and the tea sommeliers are knowledgeable and attentive — they brew the tea and keep it warm. You can get tea sets for 218rmb-368rmb, enjoying a thousand-year old tradition in full-on Blade Runner surroundings.

    19. The World's Highest Spa

    Park Hyatt's Water's Edge is the world's highest spa, perched on the 85th floor and featuring an overflowing 20-metre infinity pool, a wellness studio with two treatment rooms, and a gym. Tai-chi sessions are held every morning. 2-3 hour packages cost about 1,700-2,200rmb, but you can get a 30 minute head, shoulder and neck massage for 480rmb (+15% service and tax, natch).

    20. Super Duper Nice Malls

    Not that Shanghai's starved for malls, but Pudong has the only Galleries Lafayette. How about that? If department stores were a music genre, the new Galeries Lafayette would be electropop. The French institution offers a long list of high-end fashion brands exclusive to mainland China: Faith Connexion, Maison Kitsune, Lemaire. Each floor features a small area called "EDIT" — a mixture of designer brands curated by Galeries Lafayette. Plenty of unconventional designs are on display here, too, from edgy-looking local brand UOOYAA, to the bright yellow, dented Crash Baggage.

    21. The City's Most Expensive Hotel Suite

    Okay, we're not really going to suggest any of you do this. The suite at the Mandarin Oriental is only bookable by direct contact and will set you back 185,000rmb per night. Wowza woohza! We'd recommend you buy instead buy 117 VVIP tickets to the Chainsmokers, or 1,156 Spicy Sausage pizzas from Homeslice, or 18,500 shots of "tequila" at Perry's. But still...

    22. China's First Public Maglev

    Most of Shanghai only uses the maglev as a way to shave an hour off the trip to the airport, but you could just, y'know, go for a joyride! It's a technological marvel, and the cheapeast way to break 300km/h. Plus, there's that Maglev Museum...

    23. Visit A Ghost Town

    The blue dot on the southern tip of Pudong, Dishui Hu is a fascinating spot for fans of urban planning. Originally built to take some of the municipal administrative load off the old offices downtown, it never really took off. Might've been because it's at the very end of Line 16, a whopping two hours from the city center by metro. If you want to see the closest Shanghai gets to a ghost town, this is worth a day-trip. The Crowne Plaza there is a nice getaway, and the China Maritime Museum is also worth a visit.

    24. Shanghai's Version of Seaworld

    With everything that entails. Haichang Ocean Park is a massive amusement park opened in 2018, split into five distinct areas themed after different aquatic environments, featuring fish, polar bears, penguins, whale sharks, orcas and more. It also has a bunch of exhibitions venues, an underwater restaurant with live mermaid performances, a giant volcano, and a resort.

    25. Mercedes-Benz Arena

    Just a stone's throw from the also-impressive China Art Museum is Shanghai's premier concert venue. The crashed-spaceship looking Mercedes-Benz Arena has hosted everything from Iron Maiden to Disney on Ice to WWE to Troy Sivan. If they're big, they'll be here.

    26. Disney

    Oh, we'll get to you yet, Mouse.
  • Restaurants You'll Only Find In Pudong

    1. Maison Lameloise

    The Shanghai branch of a French gastronomy institution from Eric Pras, owner and chef of the three-Michelin star Chagny restaurant of the same name. That restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars in 2007. This restaurant takes that and jams it upon the 68th floor of the Shanghai Tower, bringing its famously inventive amuse-bouches and swooshy French fine-dining. Predictably, it's very expensive.

    2. Yongfu Mini

    Ningbo powerhouse Yongfu's casual dining sub-brand is only available in Pudong. It share a few signature dishes with its big brother, but in smaller quantities and at a slightly lower price point. Yongfu’s iconic raw swimming crabs “shiba zhan” are sold for almost one-third of the price here, as is the “shepherd's purse wrapped in tofu skin”. Also on everyone’s table: Ningbo tangyuan.

    3. Yong Yi Ting

    Both Michelin and Dianping Award-winning South Yangtze River cuisine, known for its light and delicate flavors. It's got outside seating and some of the most unusual and spectacular private dining rooms in the city. For the quality of the food, the prices aren't bad, either: dinner for two will set you back around 800rmb.

    4. Bird Ryu

    Bird Ryu is a sleek house of worship to grilled chicken, an upscale yakitori joint that deals in the best poultry could hope for after expiration. The menu travels beyond breast, leg and chicken meatballs to the outer limits of kidney and undeveloped eggs. It's delectable and well-presented, even if the environment is a little sterile.

    5. Sanlin Benbang Guan

    Sanlin Shanghainese food has been listed in Pudong’s tangible cultural heritage protection program since 2008. There's a wanghong restaurant in Sanlin called Sanlin Benbang Guan (三林本帮馆) that does authentic Shanghainese cuisine, and was featured in the second season of Bite of China. It actually has two venues in Puxi, but we're going to call this the authentic one.

    6. Oriental Pearl Revolving Restaurant

    Revolving restaurants aren't exclusively a Pudong thing, but they're definitely more popular here. The one in the Pearl Tower does cheapish and passable international cuisine in a slightly kitsch environment, but that's not what you're here for: you're here for the view over Lujiazui.

    7. Hello Kiev Ukrainian Restaurant

    Possibly the only dedicated Ukrainian restaurant in Shanghai, Hello Kiev is more like a tourist brochure in restaurant format. The chunky cutlery and goblets are reminscent of a 17th century boyar's feast table, the live stage is reminscent of a third-tier live bar, but at least they have borscht, potato pancakes and sausage. Recommended for the desperately homesick.

    8. Hao Noodle

    In a funny twist, this noodle restaurant first launched in New York, where it gained rabid popularity and drew plenty of media attention, before finally coming back to China to launch a sister restaurant to the American original. A light and whimsical store with an expanded menu has seemed to do the trick here as well, with foodies in Pudong making this a favored stop.

    The American Chains

    Pudong's been drawing US chains like moths to a flame. First was hyperglucose dessert dispenser Cheesecake Factory, which opened its doors around the time Disneyland opened. Then there was Red Lobster, which brought a pared down, upscale version of its State-side seafood shack to the ifc mall. Just recently, suburban American margarita mansion Chili's joined them. Hooters and the Shanghai Tower branch of Fatburger, however, are no longer with us.
  • Where To Cool Off

    Hey buddies, pretty hot district you got there, need somewhere to cool off? Right in the center of Lujiazui you've got the five-star Purple Mountain Hotel, with a big pool surrounded by lots of space and decent views of the city. It’s open to the public from mid-June to the end of September and costs 200rmb to get in for the day. Korean bathhouse chain New Star has an outdoor pool at their location in Pudong, not too far from Century Park. It's open from mid-June and access to the noticeably clean complex costs 118rmb. There's also the massive outdoor pool at Shimao Riviera Garden, which gets buuuuuusy at weekends. Maybe it’s the trees, rocks and sand. Entry is 200rmb and the complex is huge: open every day starting late May from 10am-7pm until the end of September.
  • Where To Have (Wholesome) Fun

    Bowling

    High Point Bowling

    This place has been here for more than a decade. Besides bowling, including a lane specifically for kids, it offers billiards and basketball arcade games. It feels a bit dated, but it still works! It's 88rmb per hour during the daytime, 138rmb at night and 188rmb on holidays. Shoe rentals are 5rmb.

    Ding Jie Bowling

    Mostly bowling lanes for kids here, but the staff are very welcoming and are happy teach you how to bowl if you're a beginner. The Sharks (the Shanghainese basketball team Yao Ming used to play for) play right next to this place. Besides bowling, it has billiards tables and dart boards. It's 25rmb per round or 180rmb per hour, and shoe plus sock rentals are 6rmb.

    Ping Pong

    Zhang De Ying

    Right next to Pudong's Yuanshen Stadium, Zhang De Ying is a big ping-pong hall with over 20 tables. Unfortunately, they only turn the lights on over the table while it's being used, so on a quiet day it can feel like you're playing in an abandoned warehouse, but it's a solid option for ping pong enthusiasts. It's 40rmb per hour.

    Yilin Table Tennis

    Actually a ping-pong training school, it also offers ping-pong training sessions as well. It's not very big, but they've got professional teachers on staff and they're happy to instruct people. It's 25rmb per hour.

    VR Arcades

    Dream Dog VR

    Kind of a haphazard affair, but well-liked by people who've been, Dream Dog VR has two VR machines in a open living room looking spot. It's small and you have to book in advance to play, but they offer more than 180 games. It's 98rmb per hour on weekdays or 128rmb per hour on weekends

    Digital Domain Space

    Actually a VR experience movie theater, but they do offer some VR games. The venue looks futuristic AF with blue lights everywhere and the force-feedback chairs that twist and spin along with the movie. The films last about 6-15 minutes and prices vary. For example, a 15 min Ghost In The Shell film costs 69rmb, a 10 minute Monkey King costs 29rmb, while six songs of Beat Saber is 68rmb.

    Pool/Billiards

    Hey 8

    Renovated in early 2019, this spot has now expanded to eight pool tables. The vibe is American old school with tall bar stools, and they hold a competition every Thursday night for amateurs. It's 45rmb per hour.

    Yi Gao Wen

    A pool room in the basement of Yaohan mall in Pudong, it's 38rmb for an hour on one of their many tables. Bonus, they have a couple arcade games dotted about.
  • Pudong After Dark

    AKA the unwholesome fu. Pudong used to have this one place called The Wall that was a regular stop on the nightlife circuit and apparently had the longest bar in Asia, but that's been gone for ages. The big nightlife spots are still mostly centered around Lujiazui, though, which definitely has the highest nightlife in the city. Apart from the semi-regular Park Hyatt pool parties, you can lord it over Puxi from the VUE Bar, or Flair, or Jade on 36, or Havana Bar...
    Or Cloud 9! Closer to the ground, there's the Pudong branch of M-Box, a sit-down livebar popular with Shanghainese bands, with a huge lit-up glass floor outside. There's the World of Beer in Century Link Mall, The Brew out in Kerry Center and the wacky neon-lit 无二吧, a sometimes-live-bar which you know is foreigner-friendly because they run those flag garlands from the rafters. These are pretty representative of what you'll find out in Pudong: garish lighting, deals on Coronas, and small live music stages.
    Incoming soon as well is Space Plus, a big 'uge club on the Huangpu River that's set to be open real, real soon.
  • Why Living In Pudong Is Better Than Puxi

    What, this list isn't enough for you? Some say you need a car to live in Pudong, and commuting into your job in the center can be a pain, but there're good reasons not to settle for a broom closet in Xuhui for 12,000rmb. Rents in Pudong are also, on average, a little lower. You can get a 100sqm apartment near Century Avenue for between 6,000-9,000rmb, whereas you'd be hard-pressed to find the same thing in Jing'an for under 10,000rmb or more.

    Apartments are also much newer, which means you're more likely to have double-paned glass and central heating, and the environment is generally cleaner and quieter.
  • The Airport

    If there’s one place everybody in Shanghai has been, it’s Pudong airport. The be-all, end-all for all flights in and out of Shanghai (except for a piddly few in Hongqiao), it’s really quite amazing. Besides being home to probably the most popular Burger King in the world, it moves an amazing 75 million passengers through the place every year, more than the entire population of France, and enough to make it one of the world’s 10 busiest airports. That will jump again any day now, as the third terminal, known as a satellite terminal building and so given the moniker S1 and S2, opens to the public in fall 2019. A subway will connect passengers from Terminals 1 and 2 to the new satellite building, running every two minutes.
  • Diiiiiiiiiiiiisney

    You didn't think we'd forget, did you? Shanghai Disney Resort! Pudong has Disneyland! The House of Mouse! The Home of Dreams, the Castle of Imagination, the Iron Throne of Western entertainment! Does Puxi have one?

    It does not. Pudong 1. Puxi 0
    Costing five years of construction, 24.5 billion rmb and seven kilometers of Pudong wetland (after expansions), the happiest place in Shanghai opened in 2016, which makes it one of the few things in the city to open on time. The greater Disney Resort itself is split into Shanghai Disneyland Park (the actual theme park), surrounded by Disneytown, a collection of restaurants, shops, a theater, and two themed hotels, the Disneyland Hotel and the Toy Story Hotel. Plus, it has its own lake! Considering it had something like 10,000 employees working on opening day and had 11 million visitors in its first year alone, this almost qualifies as its own hub.
    As with everything Pudong, the Park itself is big. It's got the largest Disney Enchanted Storybook Castle in the world, and consequently the world's biggest nightly "Ignite the Dream" light and fireworks display, and the longest parade route in the world. They've got seven themed areas: the shopping-oriented Mickey Avenue, the Gardens of Imagination, the pirate-themed Treasure Cove, Adventure Isle, the newly opened Toy Story Land, Fantasyland, and, natch, a Tomorrowland. Unlike other Tomorrowlands, however, this one replaces the classic Space Mountain ride with the Tron-inspired "Light Cycle Power Run," which looks, and is, rad.
    Other good rides: The Battle for the Sunken Treasure, Roaring Rapids, and the Camp Discovery Challenge Trails, a series of rope courses that give you a nice view over the Adventure Isle section.

    Even with so much acreage to work with, it gets packed on weekends and holidays. As with most parks, waits can stretch to 3 hours for the super-popular Soaring Over The Horizon ride (here's how to get a Fastpass), but go during a weekday, (or a rainy day!) and waits can get as low as 10-20 minutes.