Easily clocking in on the top 10,000 places that exist on the planet — I wanna say maybe even 9,000? — is Shanghai's Dinosaur Land, an educational theme park for kids to learn more about the amazing creatures that ruled the world during the Triassic-Jurrassic period, and also about Iron Man, King Kong, Spider-Man, Doremon, and the Minions from Despicable Me.
Let's take a step back and get on the same page here. Gucun Park is a park. A big, big, big park in northern Shanghai. It's got it's own stop on Line 7, and is about a 40-minute subway ride up from Jing'an Temple. Mostly, it's known for it's floral-based events. It's where people go to look at the peach and plum blossoms or whatever. Lotuses or something — you know what I mean. Seasonal flower stuff. All the big seasonal flower stuff.
But, seriously, my dudes, c'mon, seasonal flowers? GET THE FRIG OUTTA HERE with seasonal flowers!
You're gonna want to get in the gate and hit a HARD LEFT and go right to Dinosaur Land!
Yes, it's not bad! Well! It's bad! But good? Good bad? Bad good? Better than you think! But not actually good! Surprisingly average! It's Dinosaur Land! I dunno! It's a thing that exists! Yes, it delivers an average experience in a surprising way!
So yeah. Dinosaur Land is about a one-third section of Gucun Park, and is basically a walking trail around a lake. The dinosaur exhibitions are along the pathways in the foliage, with all your classic dino bros — I'm talking T.Rexes, brontosauruses, stegosauruses, triceratopses, velociraptors, and more — positioned like they would be a couple billion years ago, going about their daily dino business. Educational plaques elucidate their scientific names, the era in which they lived, and a few interesting facts about their lives.
The dinos are all animatronic, and lurch into life as you walk by them and trigger their motion detectors. They're using cutting edge, state-of-the-art 1990s technology to breathe new life into these noble and glorious beasts, and so their necks wave stiffly back and forth, their eyes open and shut and stare lifelessly at the event horizon, their limbs twitch and shudder, and speakers hidden in the trees go RAAAAAAAR!
The inspiration... is obviously Jurassic Park. Like this is exactly a scene from the movie. I don't think they had cages a zillion million years ago. So yeah. We're taking a little breather from the educational aspect of the tour to just have a scene from the movie Jurassic Park.
And here we have a triceratops and a tyrannosaurus rex throwing down! A classic confrontation of good versus evil. Like maybe even the first confrontation of good versus evil. Not counting like Middle Earth and hobbits and stuff. (Which predates dinosaurs I think?)
Here's an even more gruesome fight scene. Whoa, right! Another triceratops versus like 3 velociraptors. Pretty clear winner here. And super gnarly too. Jesus, isn't this for kids? Frigging thing's had its throat ripped out! That would've given me nightmares for like 15 years if I saw that when I was 6!
I'm going to say there might be a few tonal inconsistencies at Dino Land...
The highlight of the whole thing is the GIGANTIC 80-foot mother and child stegosauruses at the center of the park.
For scale, see me in this picture standing next to it's leg?
So yeah, that's pretty rad.
Good times, Dino Land. Good times.
Another highlight: The dino heads totem pole. Replete with half broken animatronics so just a few of the heads are jiggling and going GNNNNAAAAAAAARRR as you walk by.
If you get lost or separated from your crew you can just be like, hey let's just meet up at the giant pillar of trapped dinosaur souls.
And that's basically it! Dino Land!
That's basically it, but it's not everything.
You see, Gucun's Dino Land is competing with this much better Dino Land an hour outside of Shanghai in Changzhou. It's also competing with the Disneyland Resort and the myriad of other amusement parks in Shanghai. As such, Dino Land... has gone off the rails a bit.
Delightfully off the rails!
That big inflatable rubber duckie thing everyone was taking about like three years ago!
King Kong! Eating the dinos!
A Navy Seal guy! Just one! For no reason! With no context!
A haunted house ride!
I dunno! Some Narnia shit?
A FULL ANIMATRONIC DINO-BAND PLAYING THE HIT SONG "LET IT GO" FROM THE MOVIE FROZEN.
Gucun Park is at 4788 Hutai Lu, near Huandao Lu. It has it's own stop on Line 7. Get out at Exit 1, hang a right walk down the street, and take your first left. 20rmb admission to the park. 40rmb extra to get into Dinosaur Land.