Have you seen that big warehouse near Lupu bridge that’s sort of half dressed in trees and Aztec buildings?
Or maybe that giant elephant with bushes growing on its back?
That's "Songcheng", an "Innovative Performance Park" that opened in April.
A "performance park", evidentally, is a big space with tons of interactive things to do and crazy shows to watch.
And "innovative"... Yeah, that's the word, alright. Definitly lots of innovation going on here. Here's more words that would fit: Baffling. Perplexing. Astonishing. Surprising. Wondrous.
The thing that makes Songcheng so "innovative" is that their performances transpiring within aren’t just your run-of-the-mill stage shows. They’re multi-dimensional experiences with special effects and rumbling seats, where the lines between actors and audience become pretty blurred. Even the stage itself becomes part of the show, splitting to reveal lakes and jetting genuine waterfalls down onto itself. For real. Songcheng kicks off.
The complex is made up of six astonishing floors and a rooftop – which it must be said, has some pretty nice views of the Huangpu and Puxi. Each floor has its own performances going on, along with more miscellaneous things to see and do. It’s all fun for the whole family, though some things -- like main show "WA! Dinosaurs" -- might be more interesting for toddlers than adults -- and some shows, like the jumpy walk through WW II-era Shanghai with machine guns going off -- are probably less suited for small children.
Adults with a highly developed sense of camp and irony will find much to appreaciate with all of these. Said adults would enjoy a full day at Songcheng.
You pay 399rmb on the door and that gets you entrance into the park and your chjoice of one main performance. Then there are other smaller performances and activities that are included in your ticket price. The main shows last around an hour, and the smaller ones are sometimes as short as five minutes.
See "Shanghai Through the Ages". It’s the story of Shanghai from distant prehistory before there was even land here, right up to the present day. For the completist history buffs out there.
There’s the aforementioned stage-water-works, acrobatics, giant sharks, love stories, burlesque, and a good bit of propaganda. It’s nuts, and alone might be worth Songcheng’s entrance fee to see. There is some dialogue in Chinese. But it doesnt really matter. These themes are universal.
There are a few other main shows, one of samba, that can be enjoyed with a pre-show dinner for a few extra rmb. And judging by the poster’s extravagantly clad carnival lady it look like it's quite something.
Activity time: Here's were you can put on random vintage clothing.
Pose for photos in trains, tea houses, and Parisian love hotels.
This is an area of "witches homes". Yeh right, you think I don't know Hobbiton when I see it?
These bits are sort of take-it-or-leave-it, you're really here for the performances.
There’s one free show called the "Earthquake Experience", which is pretty serious stuff. The audience is put in the middle of the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, complete with tremors you can feel in your seat, and a good bit of heart-stirring patriotism.
As mentioned above, you’ll find a WW II thing on the ground floor. It’s not a show like the rest of them, instead you’ll work your way through a winding corridor where you see blown-out bits of '40s Shanghai and mannequins with machine guns fighting it out with the Japanese.
See? Innovative damn performances!
Some of this stuff is open throughout the day, but the performances follow schedules. They are listed on Song Cheng’s WeChat account. You can find it by searching "shanghaisongcheng". You’ll probably need some Chinese to navigate the page, but there are plenty of staff on hand that can help you with that if you need.
When you get peckish they have a whole section for snacks downstairs, selling things like fried tofu, skewers of meat, and candy. There’s also a canteen where you’ll find more substantial meals. It’s Chinese fare, with bowls of noodles and wontons, or traditional dishes like hongshao rou and egg and tomato served tray-style. Expect to spend around 50rmb to fill yourself up.
Songcheng is open from 10am-9pm Monday to Friday, and 9.30am-9pm at the weekends. This is not your average day out, that's for sure. Kids will love the place, probably more than their parents, but there is something here for everyone in the shows. Especially if you want your entertainment outside of the ordinary.
Shanghai Songcheng is at 1750 Shibo Dadao, near Changqing Bei Lu in Pudong.