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[Revisited]: Dino Beach, The Closest Water Park to Downtown

Riding the slides and surfing the wave pool not that far away.
2019-07-08 12:25:43
Revisited is where we circle back on places that have been around for a while and deserve a look-in to see how they’ve aged.
Shanghai is hot and you wanna swim. Mandarin City? Too many bros. The Maya pool on Julu Lu? Too crowded. Playa Maya? It's already 1pm and that's too far. So where can you go that's still kind of downtown and not too expensive?

Dino Beach.

Just off Line 12 in Shanghai's southwestern suburbs is a whole world of water slides, pools, and cartoon characters that stays open until 11pm. It's clean, surreal, relatively safe, and most importantly, fun. You can get there in less than an hour from the city center and only spend around 250rmb-300rmb for the day, including locker rental. The park has been open for over ten years, and SmartShanghai hadn't been since 2011, so I went to Minhang to see what's happening at Dino Beach in 2019.

First Impressions: So Friendly, So Clean, So Not Crowded

Walking in through the perfect landscaping and volcano fountains shooting crystal clear water, the first thing you notice is how spotless and trash-free this park is. At the security check, the staff smile and keep your food or drinks until you leave – you can't bring any into the park.

Ticket booth staff clearly explain (in Mandarin) everything you need to know (depends on the day, but tickets are around 200rmb). When you get your locker key (40rmb + deposit), be sure to ask for the complimentary orange lanyard to keep your cash dry – you'll need it for snacks and tubes. The lockers, bathrooms, and public showers are equally clean, though you should bring your own shampoo and soap (and swimsuit and sunscreen!).

I'm confused why the place wasn't busier on a sunny Friday but don't blame me if it's packed like IKEA in late July and August though. Old reviews indicate that 5-6 years ago the place was in disrepair but they've since renovated.

Sci-Fi Safari in the Southwestern Suburbs

Dino Beach feels like a secret level in downtown Shanghai. The park combines elements of an Amazon safari, Star Wars, Alice in Wonderland, Aliens, and Finding Nemo for a really colorful and unique style. Surprise: despite the name, there are not many dinosaurs here, except the graffiti by the locker rooms and the massive statue on the stairs into the park.

The place looks cybernetic at night when they turn the LEDs on, so the best move is getting the night ticket, staying for sunset, and seeing the daytime and nighttime versions. The trap music and commercial hip hop flowing through tinny speakers fits that mood well.

Compared to Playa Maya or Disney, Dino Beach is small, so it's quick to move around or go back to your locker.

The Rides

There's something for every age group here and all the big rides feel really sturdy and well built. Tubes are 40rmb (single) / 50rmb (double) + deposit and you can store them at the rental booth for free.

Climbing Seven Stories For The Big Slide, Over and Over

These four slides are so tall you can almost see them from the subway station, and they all feel different. Green shoots you through twisting darkness. Blue feels like getting kicked down a flight of stairs. Yellow is laid-back. Orange looks fierce but has nothing on blue. They're the best rides in the park. Note: you can't bring anything on these slides so put everything in your locker first.

Waiting For Waves, Chilling On The Beach

The anticipation is heavy as you lay on your tube, waiting for that siren to ring and the waves to swell (Tip: they start at the top of every hour). Not sure if this is still Asia's "biggest" wave pool as it once claimed, but it's huge. These waves will carry you – they won't break you. Before or after the storm, you can chill on the beach. One of the waves knocked my disposable camera out of my pocket, but someone was nice enough to find me and return it. Good people at Dino Beach!

Trying To Climb Serpents In The Empty Swimming Pool

This pool is one of the best parts of the park. It's bigger than most downtown pools (you could swim laps), and there are lots of little places to lounge around the side. Plus, the shallow end has these cute foam alligators, hippos, and snakes that are so big you could nap on them.

A Slow, Foggy Ride Down The Lazy River

Cutting through the whole park in clear water with lush plants, you'll meet snakes, starships, and giant bugs. They do turn on the waves sometimes, which looks fun, though when they don't, the river feels really lazy. Like, catatonic. Looks better at night.

The Kid's Adventure Zone is Technicolor Childhood

Big and magical, from the little slides to the obstacle course zones to the massive foam sculptures. Cows! Turtles! Stars! Adults can play here though it's designed for people who weigh about 20kg. Be extra careful here if you're an adult because you could easily twist your ankle if you're not paying attention. Stay alert!

What's Up With Those Other Big Slides?

Unfortunately, two of the big slide towers – the orange and yellow twisty slides and the white and blue slides – are closed for renovation and are no longer included in the official 2019 Dino Beach map.

Dinosaurs Survived on Fried Chicken Sandwiches

Tip: You are probably better off eating before you come, unless you like fried chicken sandwiches of a quality between Dico's and KFC. For 35rmb, it was good enough. There's also a "Jurassic Cafe" selling personal pizzas for around 60rmb. Those looked like something to avoid. No alcohol is served on site. Small bottles of water cost 10rmb. For a lot more options, stop at the Westlink mall by the subway station, which has a Tsui Wah.

Overall: Would Definitely Go Back - 4/5 Dinos

Dino Beach feels like traveling without leaving the city. You're paying a bit more than you would at a pool like Mandarin City for a much more colorful place that has a pool and a bunch of other attractions. It's fun, clean, and about as safe as crossing the street (i.e. stay alert). If they opened those other slides, got better food and drinks, and added some water fountains around the park, I'd give this place a 4.5/5. Stay hydrated!

2019 Hours and Prices: According to their WeChat (ID: dinobeach) Dino Beach is open until September 1 from 9am-11pm, though they stop selling tickets at 8pm. All-Day Tickets: 220rmb (Tue-Sun) / 160rmb (Mon). Night Tickets (4pm-11pm) are 190rmb. Kids under 1.4 meters get in free. If your Chinese is okay, you can buy them in advance here.

Getting There: Dino Beach is at 78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu. You can take line 12 south to the terminal station (Qixin Road) and walk about 15 minutes. A cab from the city center should cost less than 100rmb. Either way you're there in less than an hour from the city center.