6 Things Nobody Tells You About Chinese Theme Parks

Right, now for something slightly different. Us westerners have all heard horror stories of what Chinese theme parks are like - unsightly crowds, nothing but knock-off coasters as far as the eye can see and the worst operations known to man. Yep, I'm sure if you asked any coaster enthusiast they'd be able to tell you of some kind of Chinese theme park urban legend they've heard along the years. However, after experiencing a lot of these parks for myself, I actually came to find that there's LOADS of weird and wonderful things about Chinese theme parks that nobody talks about, so which came to a bit of a shock to us. Consider this half a guide to planning a visit to a Chinese theme park, half a 'WTF China?' kind of a deal. Here's six things nobody tells you about Chinese theme parks.

I kind of expected some of the more rural parks to not accept card, but for places like the Happy Valley parks and even Disney is some instances not to accept card really did take me by surprise. I'm a dirty millennial living in London, so the idea of having any kind of cash on me is totally alien anyway, but this did catch me off guard. Top tip - bring a cash card if you like the security but make sure you stop off to withdraw some cash from one of the many, many cash machines in the train stations on the way.

OK, I lie a little on this one as we did have a few friends mention to Conor and I to expect people to stop to ask for photos with us, but we were definitely not expecting the scale. It was absolutely ridiculous, from getting stared and pointed at, to people secretly trying to take video/photos of us, to people marching straight up to us, shoving a camera in our face then wandering off, to the more polite people who actually asked if they could have a photo - the novelty never really wore off for Conor and I of this. We're not shy people so it was more amusing than anything, but something to bear in mind if you're uncomfortable with that sort of thing.

Big culture shock for us - the water rides warn that you'll get wet and they actually mean it. Pretty much nobody in China rides these without a poncho and with very good reason. Conor and I were often looked at like we were absolutely mental for riding bareback on these attractions. The weird thing is, it's not really the rides themselves that get you wet - it's the added effects and fountains which are really spiteful. Bring a poncho if you don't fancy slodging about for the rest of your day.

Oh sweet lordy Jesus the school groups. If you visit a park of a weekday, expect hoards and hoards of school groups. The good thing is, they travel in packs so if you time it right you can usually avoid them, and also you'll often find that after 3PM they all leave, meaning the parks are usually a lot emptier towards the end of the day meaning lots of time for re-rides! We also found the school groups loved having somebody to try their English skills out on, so be prepared for a lot of "HELLO!", "WHAT'S YOUR NAME?" and "HOW ARE YOU?" being yelled at you across the park.

Oh god it took me ages to get used to this one. Yh, I think the only toilet we experienced in China to actually have bog roll was Disney. Everywhere else it was a case of bring your own or drip dry. Also worth noting - you don't flush toilet roll in China due to the older sewage systems - chuck it in the bin instead and always make sure you carry a little pack of tissues with you because more often than not you won't find any provided.

Now, this is slightly biased because I love Chinese food anyway, but it was more the selection available that blew us away. One of the big worries you always hear people banging on about when planning a trip to Asia is whether there'll be food that they like to eat, but as a fussy eater I'm here to tell you you have zero to worry about. On top of big chains like KFC, McDonalds and Pizza Hut being available at or near some of the bigger chains, the in-park more often than not have a wide and varied range available - from unidentifiable-meat-on-rice-with-soup-on-the-side to a good old hamburger and chips, I challenge anybody to visit a Chinese theme park and struggle to find something good to eat.

Honestly, nothing I write here can prepare you for visiting theme parks in China, but hopefully reading this will have you slightly more prepared for some of the weirdness than we were. But hey, a little culture shock to the system never hurt anybody - it's character building if anything!

Talk later xoxo,


  1. When you say Wet, Do you mean Valhalla wet? And is the water freezing cold or warm?