Attraction Review: Happy Valley Shanghai

After visiting our first ever Happy Valley park in Shenzhen a few days before, it's safe to say we were sceptical at the least about visiting Happy Valley Shanghai. We'd heard this place had a tendency to be spiteful, and with the horrific operations we'd endured in Shenzhen our plan was to pretty much get there and make the best of whatever the notorious Chinese chain had to throw at us. Set your expectations low and you can't be disappointed, we thought. Little did we know...

The day actually started off to a really good start. It's extremely easy to get to Happy Valley Shanghai from central Shanghai - a metro ride to the closest station then a free shuttle bus to the entrance of the park, yay. Nothing like that buzz of excitement when you see the gaudy theme park bus pull up full of people excited for a day of creds!

The park is super cute from the outside - it's got this whole Netherlands vibe going on. Windmills everywhere and a rustic architectural style. It's cute, and I liked it a lot. We had a brief chat with park management who told us it wouldn't be too busy today, which was music to our ears. Weirdly Cotton Eye Joe was playing out front, which was super jarring and really didn't fit with the aesthetics of this otherwise rather pleasant entrance plaza. Weird China.

Excited, we made our way into the park which again, was all rather pleasant, and make a beeline for the woodie, my most anticipated cred of the day. Closed for maintenance. Ah. But, there were signs of work being done, trains were on the track and there were clearly a bunch of dudes doing some stuff, so we shrugged this off to maybe a later opening and decided to head in the opposite direction to the kiddie B&M instead.

The park was absolutely dead, and pretty large, so it was kind of weird to be walking for long periods of time and bumping into barely a soul. Soon though we were in the kiddie area of the park themed to under-the-sea and home to three creds: a spinning wild mouse, a little kiddie thing and one of only two B&M family coasters in the world - all of which were operating yay! The land was littered with filming equipment as some sort of TV crew were doing some bits and pieces - definitely one of those 'never-in-the-UK' moments.

The B&M kiddie was fun - novel if anything. It rides pretty much exactly like a Junior Vekoma Invert, except it's more fun because lol B&M kiddie coaster. The other two coasters in this land were nothing really much to report on, except a lovely +2 to my count yay! This area is also home to a pretty big indoor section too with a bunch of flat rides and a super cute inverted monorail. It's really modern and fun inside, loads of cool lighting and theming to set it all off.

Next up - more spite. We hadn't seen the MegaLite slither round yet, and like I said, by this point I'd resigned myself to at least some level of spite from this park. The MegaLite looks really cool - the whole area is surrounded by towering rockwork and theming that was actually pretty similar to the Bullet Coaster theming at Happy Valley Shenzhen we'd seen a few days prior. And yep, sure enough, 'Closed For Annual Maintenance'. Well that sounds pretty hopeless doesn't it. I've ridden a couple of MegaLites before so it's no huge loss, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't secretly a little bit gutted.

With three creds under our belt and it only being around midday at this point, we mellowed out a bit. The MegaLite was dead and I wasn't holding out for the woodie either, meaning we only had the Mine Train and the Dive Machine left to nab and about five hours to do it in. We took some time out in a petting zoo we passed, where you could buy cute little food bowls to feed the animals with yay. We were having a fabulous time feeding the little piggies and alpacas and bunnies...until we noticed the dead bun laid in the corner. Urgh. Couldn't get out of there fast enough, that was not nice.

Trying to blank out that horrendousness, we joined the queue for the dive machine, which was probably the longest queue of the day at around 30 minutes. I was slightly anxious about this as we joined the queue knowing what a faff the bigger coasters were to wait for in Shenzhen. But nope, total opposite. Incredibly efficient and constantly dispatching. So weird - how can the same chain be operated so entirely differently?!

The dive machine was...a B&M dive machine! I like me a dive machine, and this one, like the rest of them, was pretty darn good! If it'd been walk on and we didn't have another cred to get we most likely would have opted straight for a reride, but we couldn't be bothered to wait again so pressed on to complete our circuit of the park.

At this point it became apparent that quite a lot of attractions were closed. Along with the MegaLite and the woodie, the flying theatre, shoot the chute and topscan were all down. That's...not exactly great for one of the best known theme park chains in China. We didn't exactly let it get us down, we were still having a pretty fab day out but it as still kind of frustrating that so much was closed - especially as nothing out the front indicated this would be the case nor did the park manager wish to mention this when we met her that morning.

Dark ride time next, in the Typhoon Bay area similar to the one in Shenzhen. Except this version was inexplicably playing some kind of thrash metal music. Go figure.The dark ride was totally unexpected, literally had no idea what to expect when we entered the building and were pleasantly surprised to be handed 3D glasses and board some Spiderman-style vehicles - yay! Storm Chaser, as we discovered it was called, was so fucking weird. The sets were strange and dimly lit and the vehicles moved in such a way that you never got more than a slight glimpse of each scene. The result being that you had no idea what the fuck was happening and spent most of the ride spinning in darkness. What the hell, what a waste of an awesome ride system! At least it was open I guess...

But enough of that, there's still another cred to get. This time located in the pretty typical Wild West themed land. For some reason I'd wanted to ride one of these for a while. No idea why, I knew it'd be completely unremarkable in every way but there was just something about it I've always liked the look of. And well, I was right, it's entirely unremarkable but does look kind of cool. Yay! Creds for the day complete...that is, if the woodie doesn't open? I was kidding myself at this point but truly didn't give up hope until we were on the bus back to the station haha.

The rest of the day was spent re-riding the B&Ms, eating some yet more fabulous Chinese theme park food (octopus, steamed dumplings and meat-on-a-stick in this case) and generally milling about.

I was sad that Happy Valley Shanghai just gave zero shits about their operations, because we really did have a good day at the park. It's just not great that not only were so many of the major attractions, used in all of the local advertising, closed, but there was no indication of these closures until you got to the actual rides (we checked again when we left), animal negligence throughout the park and a general lack of fucks given. But then there were awesome things like them actually being able to operate a coaster well with their B&M dive machine. Such a strange place. I'd definitely go back if I was ever in Shanghai again because it's so easy to get to but it was definitely a day erring on the disappointing side.

Talk later xoxo,