Technically, Da Shi Jie isn't an amusement park — it's a big building with a bunch of stuff in it. But it is amusing. Chinese operas, magic shows, food markets, and more share space in the Xizang Nan Lu, Yan'an Dong Lu venue. Read Hollywood film director Josef von Sternberg's vivid description on Wikipedia. Seems like the place that whole "east meets west" thing really started.
Hard to miss if you've ever had a stroll around the People's Square, this Shanghai architectural landmark is about to celebrate its 100th birthday in a few months. On March 31, after over a decade of renovations, Da Shi Jie finally re-opened to the public.
(Right into the gaze of the judging eyes of millions of Shanghainese.)
It's new and renovated, but the layout is still classic Shanghai old school. Read: Western imitation. Visitors are greeted by 12 distorting mirrors (哈哈镜) — these have been there since day one and are still performing at peak efficiency.
It's rather spacious. Four floors of ICH — intangible cultural heritage — scattered around the venue. Showcasing historical objects not just from Shanghai but around China. It also has a big stage in the center and a handful of small theaters on each floor. Events such as traditional operas, traditional instrumental performances, tea ceremonies, and magic shows are happening every day.
In addition to bringing craftsmen, street performers, and many food vendors to the complex, Da Shi Jie added in digital technology and contemporary art as well, like a VR room where audiences can view the vistas of Old Shanghai. Or an artificial cave set up with a trippy-looking, Dunhuang painting projection, and mirrors. The result is a mixed bag. There's a certain tackiness as you would expect, but it's overall a pleasant way to spend two or three hours.
A few tips before you go: If you take the subway, Exit 1 of Line 8, Dashijie Station is the closest exit. Choose a weekday to go if you can, or purchase the ticket in advance on their WeChat (大世界2017) to spend less time queuing. The food here is inexpensive, so are the souvenirs, but don't forget the stores right next to the entrance — many hundred-year-old brands selling local specialties and tea. Noted, there are no bilingual descriptions in the venue, although it shouldn't be hard to navigate inside.
On our visit, a few senior citizens were complaining about the 60rmb entry fee. Well, indeed it is quite steep to them considering it was only 5rmb like thirty years ago. But all the performances and most of the workshops here are free. Each guest can get one RSVP (预约券) ticket an hour before the show at the first floor (for performances) and third floor (for workshops).
Da Shi Jie opens every day from 10am to 6pm (entrance closed at 5pm). On Fridays and Saturdays, the place is also running from 7pm to 10pm (entrance closed at 9pm).