What To Expect In A Chinese Theme Park

As a quick introduction, my name’s Ben and I’m a good friend of Jordan’s and long-time, card-carrying Coaster Enthusiast - hopefully you’ve seen all the updates on Cupcakes and Coasters’ Facebook page (and if you haven’t, why do you not follow us?!) so you might already know that I’ve recently come back from a week long theme park trip to China, covering Beijing down to Shanghai. 

This was actually my second time visiting China, after doing a three week stint in 2011, but I fell in love with the place this time around and wanted to share my experiences to show anyone else considering a trip that it’s not a scary, hard to do place. In fact, it's somewhere that every self-respecting enthusiast should try if they can! 

Theme park wise, there’s not a country on Earth that is putting in new parks and attractions at the same insane rate as China are, and some of their new stuff is World-class (the Wanda parks! Oriental Heritage!), so right now is the perfect time to plan a theme park visit. Below I will list some of the best things to know if you’re considering, which I hope is helpful! Please remember this is all based on personal experience and whilst I hope this holds true for any trip you may do in the future, make sure you still keep your wits about you as you would travelling anywhere in the World!

China is not as scary as you think it is
When I first started planning my latest trip to China, solo nonetheless, a lot of people looked at me a little bit like I was crazy - ‘China?’ they asked. ‘On your own?’ they queried - but it was honestly no worse than any other foreign, non-English speaking country. There is an adequate level of English on the transport network, at parks and in hotels, and the majority of people that you will meet are more than happy to try and help. That’s not to say you don’t need to keep your wits about you, but it’s no worse than any other Asian country or the majority of European countries where you don’t speak the local language! I’ll cover off some of the things to keep in mind below but just remember, it’s really not as scary as you think it is! 

Be early to the parks
This is something I try and adhere to no matter where I’m going (I get cred anxiety alright!) but in China it’s extra important that you get to the gates of the parks for opening. The operations in China aren’t as bad as you’ve heard they are: they’re worse! Being there at opening allows you to run to the biggest or lowest capacity coaster in the park so you avoid the two hour queue it will probably get later in the day!

Use public transport - DO NOT DRIVE
China is covered in a network of cheap, high-speed Bullet Trains that can get you between the major cities at a speed of 300km/h, subways in every major city and taxis that cost about £10 for a 40 minute journey, so just do not drive. There are very few rules of the roads and it’s better to just trust the taxi drivers who do this every day than try it yourselves! I travelled around 1400 miles on my recent trip, and including taxis to numerous parks and subways I’d have only spent a little over £200 on transport - imagine doing that in Europe! 

Don't be afraid to SHOVE
Although the people in China are lovely, they’re not afraid to shove and queue jump if there’s a coaster to get on or a subway seat to occupy. Honestly, I’ve seen people shove old ladies out the way to get a seat to go one stop, so if you’re not quick you’ll be left behind! This might sound like it’s annoying but as soon as you embrace it, you can make sure it’s you that gets that seat or gets in that park first with a well-timed shove! They’re not being rude, it’s just how they work so make sure you get in there! 

Pick your time of year carefully
I did my first trip to China in August and although I had a blast, the parks were rammed, it was about a billion degrees with 1000% humidity and you basically got on the coasters and nothing else. This time I opted for April, outside of the school holidays, and the parks were practically dead (most of the time I had to wait for enough riders!) and the weather was a pleasantly warm 25c with no humidity. Checking the weather and local holidays is key to planning any trip, but I’ve never seen it make such a difference as it did in China! 

Treat Yo Self
The parks all come in at around RMB230-260 (which is £25-30) and food, hotels and transport are all ridiculously cheap. A meal in a decent enough restaurant will come to £5-6 and I got a double room in an Ibis for £20 a night. On my recent trip I spent £1000 in transport, park entry and spending money, including adding on an extra day at Disney (I really didn’t need but wanted), some fancy meals I splurged on and some nice hotels - so if you wanted to be tight and shared with someone you could comfortably do it for £800 for a week per person (plus flights and visa!) That’s a bargain for the amount of insane parks, great coasters and sightseeing I did! It also allowed me to do some things I wouldn’t usually do on a park trip (like stay in an Ibis!), so use the money you’ve saved to buy yourself something fancy! 

Research routes and plan in advance
The public transport in China is amongst the best in the World, but you should still plan out what cities you want to go to and the transport routes to the parks ahead of time. Look at the parks, find the nearest staton and jump in a taxi when you get there (they’re so cheap, even if there is a bus or something I wouldn’t even bother with the faff of trying to figure it out tbh) - my only tip would be to make sure you have the Chinese name of anywhere you want to go to prepared - the English names will mean nothing to the taxi drivers but show them the Chinese name on RCDB and you’re good to go! 

Get yourself some Internet
Again, honestly, this is something a serial social media user like me will do anywhere I go, but somewhere like China you’ll need it to make sure you can get train times and check Chinese translations on the fly. If you can’t get a good international plan with your carrier there’s plenty of WiFi hotspots or cheap SIM cards you can rent, so just make sure you get some form of internet access for your trip! (Side note - I didn’t need a VPN for Facebook as I just used the app on my phone and that was fine, but I have no idea if that’s normal!)  

Carry your passport at all times
It’s actually a requirement in China that you carry your passport at all times as a tourist, but you will need it to take any high-speed train and I was even asked for it at a handful of parks, so make sure you keep it on you (although keep it safe of course!)

Carry toilet roll at all times!
Look, don’t ask about this one, just trust me alright? 

I hope some of those tips are useful, and I would strongly encourage anyone in the position to and thinking about doing a trip to China to jump at the chance! If you have any other questions about specific parks or general trip planning advice, just leave a comment below and I’ll see what I can do to help! 

I'd like to than Ben for imparting his wisdom on Chinese theme parks with us today and look forward to any future contributions he'll be making here! As he said above, if you have any questions please feel free to reach out and we'll both do our best to help out!

Talk later xoxo,


  1. The parks there always look insane but I've had a really bad time I've ever been in China, even if it was only a few days at a time. I doubt I'll go again if I have the choice but I might make an exception for the quality of their themeparks.

    1. Oh really? I've heard people have struggled in China before, hence why we wanted to get this post out there! The way they're putting parks in is insane and the quality of the new stuff is outstanding, seems like reason enough to go to me :)