Friday, 28 July 2017

Happy Valley Shanghai: Best roller coaster collection in China!

Happy Valley Shanghai has an impressive lineup of roller coasters. Although  7 does not sound too impressive, at least 3 of the roller coasters are the best in the industry. Of course, Happy Valley Shanghai also has some decent family and flat rides,but I think most visitors are drawn to the roller coasters.

About the Park

Happy Valley Shanghai opened in the year 2009 as the fourth theme park in the Happy Valley chain. You can go there by taking Shanghai Metro Line 9 to Sheshan 佘山 station, then transfer to a free Happy Valley shuttle bus. In addition to the theme park, the Happy Valley resort area also includes Maya Water Park (玛雅水公园) and it looks like there are some hotels under construction.

Tickets to Happy Valley Shanghai cost ¥230 for adults and ¥110 for children shorter than 1.5m in height. Although there is a student ticket which costs ¥160, it is only valid for students of Chinese Universities.

Sunshine Harbour/Happy Town

The first thing that greets guests is a Mediterranean themed main street with many food and beverage outlets. Here, you will find high street brands like KFC and Pizza Hut. There are also stalls offering souvenirs or some fringe activities. When I entered, we were greeted by a marching band performance!

The water ride is located just to the left side of the entrance.

Wooden Fireball 谷木游龙

The most famous attraction at Happy Valley Shanghai is no doubt the wooden roller coaster Wooden Fireball. This Martin & Vleminckx coaster was in the world's top 10 wooden roller coasters in the Mitch Hawker Poll when it opened, and is still the most popular ride at the park. For my 2 rides, I queued for 1hr 45mins and 30mins respectively.

Indeed, I was not disappointed. Wooden Fireball features a lot of good airtime and headchopper effects, and the pace is also quite fast. The ride is also very long, and the smoothness is acceptable. I managed to ride both the first and last row, and I think that the best ride is on the back row. However, the best part of Happy Valley Shanghai is that this is neither the largest nor the best coaster at the park!


Shanghai Bund 上海滩

The next themed area is Shanghai Bund (I thought the correct translation is Shanghai Coast or Shanghai Beach)? The area is themed to the old Shanghai during the turn of the 20th century, complete with replica tram tracks and some traditional buildings. You will really appreciate the blend of Chinese and Western styles here.

Erm...can you tell what kind of traditional Chinese restaurant this is??? KFC!

Dive Coaster 绝顶雄风

However, the main attraction of Shanghai Bund is the largest ride at Happy Valley Shanghai - Dive Coaster. This ride will hold you at the top of the first drop for 3 gut wrenching seconds before dropping 20 stories at a 90 degree angle. I am amazed at how many people want to snatch the front row. I rode both the front and back row and I can testify that the back gives a more intense drop.

However, I do find this ride to be quite rough for a B&M coaster. The vibration at the bottom of the first drop is particularly serious. Moreover, most locals think that this ride, while huge and imposing, is actually the least intense among the 3 big coasters at Happy Valley Shanghai. Think about it, it almost every other park a ride (Janfusun Fancyworld, Chimelong Paradise, Busch Gardens Tampa, etc) like this will be far scarier than everything else!

Oh yes, you can can soaked by the coaster if you stand at the wrong place!

Shangri-La 香格里拉

This could well be the most beautiful themed land in Happy Valley Shanghai. The Shangri-La includes a huge and very realistic artificial mountain (as good as Disney's Adventure Isle volcano) and a bit of Himalayan architecture. There is also a rapids ride and our favourite RCT3 ride in this area.

See...yet another RCT3 favourite!

I am amazed that people are willing to play with THIS at a theme park!

Mega-Lite 蓝月飞龙

The best roller coaster at Happy Valley Shanghai is located here. Mega Lite may be only 10 stories high and 700m long, but it features the most intense airtime I ever experienced on any roller coaster, strong positive G Forces at the drop and very comfortable seats. Oh and did I mention? This ride is glossy smooth. I just cannot get enough of it and rode it 4 times that day!

[warning]: This ride has extremely intense ejector airtime. I do not recommend riding this until you have taken at least 1 of the other 2 big roller coasters at Happy Valley Shanghai and think are are ok.

On the day I visit, this ride only opened at 1pm. Also, the queue is surprisingly short compared to the other coasters. I am not sure it is because a lot of people are scared or because not many people know about the ride. After all, it is situated behind a mountain and you cannot see a lot of track from the front entrance of the ride. 

Happy Ocean 欢乐海洋

Happy Ocean is the kids area of Happy Valley Shanghai. There is a large indoor kids area and the also 3 family roller coasters. I really like the whimsical feel of the area, could really make me feel like the kid if the weather was a bit more...cooperative.

Family Inverted Coaster 大洋历险

This roller coaster is quite iconic as its the first family coaster ever produced by B&M (normally B&M only build big scary rides). The ride has decent pace and actually feels surprisingly intense, but I did not like the restraints because the 2 vertical bars prevents people from lifting our hands up. 

Spinning Coaster 疯狂精灵

A Chinese made roller coaster literally meaning crazy wizard, this ride is very similar to the old wild mouse type coasters. There are small drops, hairpin turns, and when the spinning starts, you can be pulled forward from your seat. There is some jerking, though, especially at the hairpin turns, thus making this the weakest coaster at Happy Valley Shanghai

Actually, not exactly. Another even smaller coaster, Crazy Ant, is closed when I visit.

Mine Town 矿山镇

Mine themed area is a staple of Happy Valley, and it features American old west architecture with some classic rodeo? style attractions. There are some nice indoor interactive attractions here as well, but no one bothers to visit them as everyone seems to be only concerned with the roller coasters.

Mine Train 矿山历险

Just like mine town, mine trains are a staple at Happy Valley theme parks. However, this Mine Train is an Intamin family coaster, which features better pace and smoothness than the Vekoma version in other parks. However, the ride is shorter than the Vekoma version with only 1 lift hill. I guess 有一好没有二好.

Guys! you should seriously pay me to become your ride photographer :D

Other Things

Happy Valley Shanghai also has a few other attractions such as a boat ride around the many rivers and a large theater.

Also, there are some food stalls just outside the park that sells snacks and meals at reasonable prices. I bought some BBQ skewers while waiting for the shuttle bus to bring me back to the Metro station.

The Verdict

Happy Valley Shanghai has amazing roller coasters. Seriously, if you are like me, you can spend the whole day just riding coasters. Not only that, with a couple of exceptions, most of the roller coasters are good. In fact, 4 out of 7 roller coasters have a score of 7 (B+) and above - by far the best of any theme park I visited:

  • Wooden Fireball: A+
  • Dive Coaster: A
  • Mega Lite: A+
  • Family Inverted Coaster: B+
The themeing at this theme park is also decent, and you can find sitting toilets (1 at each toilet). Food is acceptably priced - I spent ¥8 on ice cream and ¥7 on a bottle of drink. 

However, the other attractions are very normal and the park is not well sheltered. You also need to do a lot of walking. The worst part is Happy Valley's poor ride operations - they only operate 1 train on all coasters and will not assign seats to new guests until the previous batch has alighted and LEFT the station.

  • Roller Coasters: ☆☆☆☆☆+☆
  • Thrill Rides: ☆☆☆☆
  • Shows: ☆☆
  • Family Rides: ☆☆☆
  • Theming: ☆☆☆
  • Operations: ☆
  • Overall: ☆☆☆☆

Other theme parks in China. Trust me, they are good!