Shanghai Disneyland opens this week, and if you don't have a ticket, good luck with that. And good luck with the lines, the heat, and the madness. Maybe you'll get lucky and snag one of those turkey legs at 2pm. Luckily, Shanghai has several other fine theme parks, and hopefully the influx of people into Disney will free up some space at these, lest not they be overshadowed by the mouse!
A 20,000sqm indoor theme park out in Songjiang dedicated to the little blue cartoon characters. It occupies the largest portion of a cavernous 20,000sqm indoor space, but also includes an outdoor area that curves around the edge of the Intercontinental Shanghai Wonderland quarry (which it's right next to). Mostly for the kiddos, with no rides going higher than maybe shoulder height, and plenty of places for them to just run around the freak out in that adorable way kids do. It's 79rmb for kids and seniors to get in, or 149rmb for adults.
One of two big water parks in Shanghai, located right next to Happy Valley. The park design is world class, with a dozen full-sized water slides, a lame "wave" pool, slides for kids, cute stone sculptures of dragons and worms, some Filipinos dressed as Mayans (really???), a giant Mayan god who dumps water on everyone, "scuba diving" in what looks like a dirty fishtank with some Mayan relics, manmade bat caves and showers shaped like giant Sprite fountain dispensers, and acres of high quality stone flooring. Food is not great.
Big castle and amusement park inspired by Hans Christian Andersen, up in Yangpu District. Your favorite childhood fairytales come to life, or trapped in a nuclear-scorched plastic non-life, rather—jabbering demonically into the void—with a liberal dusting of esprit de Chernobyl. It has a three-story castle, a river running through it, a few large centerpiece installations, and seven zones inspired by the fairytales, it’s basically a bunch of amusement park rides for babies, of the variety usually found chained to the front of a Buddies. Good for a weird day out if your sense of humor is up to the task.
A massive theme park in Songjiang that's been open since 2009, with seven roller coasters and a bunch of other rides featuring drops and splashes. The summer lines can get really long, but there's lots to do in the park. Occasionally, rides do break down and undergo maintenance -- hopefully not while you're on the ride (happened back in 2011). Most of the rides don't loop or go that fast, but they do generate a decent amount of G-force.
Jinjiang Action Park is this hulking, aged monstrosity crouched right next to the Yan'an Elevated Highway with its own metro stop: four roller coasters, a ferris wheel, a ghost train, a log flume, and a boat adventure. Two of the roller coasters go upside down, including the Giant Inverted Boomerang, the wildest ride in the park. It's all right. Most of the action is at the nearby nightmarket.
This is China's first Legoland Discovery Center, and the only place in China where you can purchase lego products in bulk. It's a 30,000 square-meter designed for kids age 3-10 years old, and sadly, adults are not allowed in without children. There are 10 theme zones inside, including a replica of Shanghai with a ton of fun details, a place to build and test race cars, and literal pools of loose bricks, so expect to spend at least a couple of hours in here.
Gucun Park has its very own Jurassic Park, which is as perplexing as it is magnificent, and often blissfully free of crowds. It's 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. Highlight is the GIGANTIC 80-foot mother and child stegosauruses.
Big, indoor Sega arcade and amusement park, spread out over two floors of a mall in Changning. It features a whole bunch of Sega’s most cutting edge arcade technology, which, these days, is state-of-the-art virtual rides, driving simulators, and 3D interactive games. It also features more traditional amusement park stuff as well -- a haunted house, bumper cars, a smaller indoor roller coaster, and non-digital skill games. Ideal for kids and teenagers of all ages.
Massive (373 hectare) park/garden/theme park nearly halfway to Suzhou, at the very end of Line 17, right next to Diantian Lake. The south gate is about two minutes from the station. Apart from the odd bits of nonsense aesthetic drizzled around, it's got your standard green spaces, squares, long promenades, a bike route, snaking brook-side pathways, paddleboat/canoes for hire on the smaller lake, a go-kart track, etc. More importantly, it's got a sweet aircraft carrier packed with a collection of PLA military hardware on display. It's called the National Defense Education Museum. School-kids visit. 50rmb entry fee for the park itself and then a few areas cost extra on top of that. The aircraft carrier is free. The submarine costs 30rmb to board. Oh there's also a submarine.