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Terminal Velocity: Cheap Thrills at Jinjiang Action Park

Vomit comets, dodgy roller coasters and musty ghost trains: we explore the queasy treats that await you at Shanghai's local theme park...
Last updated: 2015-11-09


Ah, the magical world of the carnival: the smell of cotton candy and cheesy vomit, the brain rattling headaches, the sexual predators and teen-on-teen violence, plus the prospect of losing your lunch on a rickety deathtrap, bolted together by sub-prime workers.

If you miss this brand of home-style fun, the Jinjiang Action Park (“A paradise for everyone,” according to the website) is the closest amusement park to downtown Shanghai. It has four roller coasters, two of which go upside down, plus a huge Ferris wheel, a ghost train, a log flume, a bizarre shanzhai “Small World” boat adventure and a few more contraptions that spit and lurch you around to the delight of greedy chiropractors everywhere.

The big draw are the roller coasters. We chose a quiet afternoon to check them out. The park was empty other than a smattering of young toughs and a couple of local businessmen taking their teenaged secretaries out for a saucy go on the log flume, so we didn’t have to queue for anything.

"The Roller Coaster"




Nick says: I have no love for roller coasters, or any high-velocity “thrill”. I was forced to come here for the amusement of my more hairy manly colleagues. This was the first thing we went on and it was horrible. The best thing I can say is that it was all over in 30 unpleasant seconds. Afterwards my hands were shaking but I was unhurt. Following a little sit down I was feeling OK again and ready to soldier on.

Justin says: Weak sauce. I'm sure that when pet rocks and Lief Garret were all the rage, coasters like this were quite the heart-stopping experience. The grimy gears squealing below as the train clicks tentatively up the first ascent made me wonder if the ride had been around since then, too. All told, about the only fun part was watching my esteemed colleague muster up every fiber in his being to keep from spewing forth a comet-tail of vomit in our wake.

Giant Inverted Boomerang




Nick says: This is the largest roller coaster in the park and its jolly blue and yellow paint job did nothing to lessen the terror I felt while being strapped in. After a painfully long wait, we were hoisted backwards up a vertical ascent until we were hanging hundreds of feet in the air at a 90-degree angle to the ground. However, after the initial drop things worked out OK. The upside-down bits were manageable, it was over pretty fast and at one point I think I might even have been having fun.

Justin says: I'm pretty sure the five-story face-down freefall caused my testicles to reascend to my abdomen for a split second. Still, this is by far the highlight of the park. Thumbs up on this one.

Spinning Coaster




Nick says: Was closed for maintenance. As was… the Moto-Coaster. Both were being cleaned or something, sparing me further humiliation. Woo-hoo! We were assured they would both be open if you went down at the weekend.

Justin says: 
I'm glad this one was closed, because I don't think I've had a tetanus shot in at least 12 years. I've seen safer-looking coasters at county fairs back home, and those things are assembled in 10 minutes by a couple of dudes equipped with nothing more than an Alan wrench and a crack pipe.

The Ghost Train




Nick says: A tiresomely long ride through a dark and musty smelling chamber occasionally enlivened when a shrunken plastic head plopped down from the ceiling. Scary? Only in its painful inadequacy. Scary in the way that watching an old person eat a yoghurt is scary.

Justin says: 
I spent the better part this ride fiddling around with my camera, trying to get some snapshots in the dark, so my only recollection is a female mannequin that spins around to expose her eviscerated abdomen. Kinda gross, but mostly pretty lame. My advice: Skip this one and use that punch on your ticket for the Inverted Boomerang one more time. In fact, just use all of your punches on that ride.

The Big Wheel




Nick says: Just that, really. You go up, you come down. The whole thing takes about 15 minutes, during which you’re locked into a small Perspex room looking out across the city. It’s the sort of place that invites thoughts of public naughtiness. I’m pretty sure you could get away with something naughty on this.

Justin says: 
Yeah. That's all Nick kept saying on this ride. From the instant the latch locked behind us it was nothing but: "I'm pretty sure you could get away with something naughty on this." I tried a few times to change the subject. No luck. Eventually, all I could do was sit in awkward silence and avoid eye contact. Thanks for making it weird, Nick. Thanks.

Joyland




Nick says: The local version of the Small World ride at Disney World. You sail around in a little boat watching an inscrutable diorama of threadbare dolls singing some demented song around and around. Everything’s damp and it looks like rats live in the ceiling. It felt like a nightmare in a damaged brain. I quite liked it.

Justin says:
 What begins as an idyllic romp through childhood fantasy and whimsy soon devolves into journey into the darker recesses of the human heart. Plush toys covered in a patina of filth and dried baby drool depict some of humanity's sadder moments: exploitation of animals, Bacchic orgies (actually, come to think of it, those weren't so bad), human trafficking. This is what Disney's Small World would look like after some shady character had lured it into the back of a panel truck with a puppy dog or a lollypop.

Illusion Trip: The 4D Cinema




Nick says: One of those mini 3-D cinemas on pneumatics that shakes and tips you around. Ours took us on some kind of Alpine death race. It was excellent. It felt like another roller coaster. I’d go back for this.

Justin says:
 It's like riding a mechanical bull while playing a game of Mario Kart. Ironically, this was the only attraction in the park where I sustained an injury. One violent jerk flung me back, causing me to bash my head into my headrest. I think I'm mildly concussed.

The Log Flume




Nick says: You see that? How much fun we’re having there? Well, it probably wasn’t as much fun as that picture implies, but yeah, that was us, we were there.

Justin says: 
The log flume is the cornerstone of any amusement park. But let's face it. This is no Splash Mountain. A little advice: Keep your mouth closed on that final descent. I ingested about a cup of water; I'm pretty sure it gave me trench mouth.

***

That was about it. So… the park is easy to get to. It’s one stop on from the South Railway Station on Line 1. Get off at Jinjiang Park and you should see the big wheel from the Metro exit.

None of the rides are free. You pay to get in, then you pay for each ride on top of that (they’re all about 20rmb). Or you can buy an entrance ticket that bundles in some rides. Entrance with two rides is 60rmb; entrance with six rides is 100rmb. But those six free rides don’t include everything – you need to buy a separate ticket for the big wheel and the 4D cinema thing. It’s all predictably complicated. We bought the six-rides bundle ticket and, paying extra for the wheel and the 4D cinema, we did about every ride in the park on that. Afterwards, we were this happy:



During the summer, things stay open late, until 10pm nightly. At the weekend it gets more crowded so expect to queue. Afternoons during the week are the best bet but you might find some of the rides closed. For a map and taxi print out, go here.

TELL EVERYONE