Happy Valley Shanghai – 2019 Trip Report

Sean: Get ready for a whole lot of China! One of the more “Chinese” parks of the trip was Happy Valley Shanghai, home to dilapidated areas, closed coasters, some pleasant and unpleasant surprises and… a Pizza Hut! Let’s take a look at the park with one of China’s biggest coaster lineups!

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Welcome to Happy Valley Shanghai! Part of OCT, the theme park/entertainment group that in a way pioneered the regional theme park industry of China. Sadly they turned into a Six Flags type cooperation very quickly. Half their operations aren’t too bad and well-presented, however they have a hard time keeping up with maintaining their product we’ve learned. Let’s head inside and see what Happy Valley’s 10 year anniversary is all about!

First look at the park, not bad! Staff at the luggage center was kind, acquiring tickets was quite easy and the main street is nice looking! The park hosts favorite local and international restaurants, inside the gate. The brightly colored cover of the midway is presumably for the 10 year anniversary. It looks great, but does give a touch of false-hope for the rest of the park.

Our first major area is the park’s “Happy Time” themed area. Ironically neither the signage nor the operations in the area made for a happy time as China’s first wooden coaster (2009’s Wooden Coaster Fireball) was closed all day.

Nearby “Happy Time” is the park’s relatively new flying theater with a name so complicated in English I have already forgotten it. Go figure. – The ride itself was awesome, a clear immediate inspiration from Soarin’ Over the Horizon at nearby Shanghai Disneyland but with computer-game level graphics of imaginary worlds. The ride’s operating system was quite impressive, however the overall ride experience was not as great as some of the many other flying theaters that we experienced around China.

Happy Valley Shanghai is lucky to have a pretty lush and grown-in vegetation, unlike most new Chinese parks, which helps hide some of the lesser maintained products in the park. Let’s just say that this 10-year old park feels more like it’s easily a quarter century old. – Wave at the closed Wooden Coaster Fireball with me:

Up-close the park has made considerable efforts in improving their appearance. 10 years ago they were the first and only major theme park that the region had ever seen, now major up-scale theme parks crowd Shanghai and surrounding metros, creating some solid competition.

The park has not yet added any new areas to the park since opening, however, the “Old Shanghai” area of the park has received several refreshments and touchups including new shows, smaller attractions, restaurants and some much needed paint. After venturing through “Happy Time”, we actually were happier in “Old Shanghai”.

To our surprise all major attractions were open in this area, including the Sky Drop, Pirate Ship, many flat rides, and of course the park’s signature coaster: Diving Coaster.

Part of the revitalized area of the park is the signature coaster-restaurant concept created by Europa Park in Germany. However I am not sure if any guests in Happy Valley have caught on to the concept yet.

You may have seen pictures of Diving Coaster‘s previous color scheme, identical to Busch Garden’s Tampa’s SheiKra. The park has recently repainted the coaster gray and red, a little more like X2 and Gravity Max, and it looks amazing.

A new platform was added to view the ride’s splashdown without getting wet, in the appropriate colors of course.

And while we’re at it, let’s show off some more of the ride! Diving coaster is considered a SheiKra clone by RCDB.com, however there are some significant differences.

First off, Diving Coaster‘s signature vertical drop is 13 feet taller than SheiKra‘s and towers 213 feet above the park’s concrete midways. Secondly the trains seat 30 (3 rows of 10 riders) versus SheiKra‘s 24.

Though the ride’s layout features the exact same lineup of elements, the much wider envelope for the larger trains on Diving Coaster means that some elements are drawn out a bit more. In addition to which the topography is slightly different for both rides. Diving Coaster’s station isn’t nearly as elevated as SheiKra‘s as the Tampa installment needs to clear an in-park service road. Another big difference is Diving Coaster’s tiny, single-chamber station vs SheiKra’s giant double-platform loading area.

Another fun thing about riding Diving Coaster is that the park’s layout gives you angles you wouldn’t usually get of SheiKra.

After Diving Coaster‘s splashdown, the traditional helix follows, however unlike SheiKra‘s helix this helix dips down more before correcting itself up into an airtime hill into the brake run presumably because they don’t have a service road to clear and the ride’s envelope is larger.

By now you probably have had enough of my Diving Coaster Ted Talk, here’s a final look at its towering position in the refreshed “Old Shanghai” area of the park.

Our visit to Happy Valley Shanghai was the first time we were presented the highly-popular riffle shooting game. Something we saw at several other parks around the country.

The park’s previously bare and open midways have been enhanced by faux flowers overhead, which is absolutely genius and the park’s atmosphere has been greatly improved in an instant.

It wouldn’t be China without some absurd and terrifying circus-esque performance, as this guy eating fire on the midway.

And parrots chained to poles for the entertainment of humans. I am not necessarily against animals in parks,, however this particular company (OCT) has an obsession with this and we have seen many birds chained and caged up unattended at several of their parks, which I don’t like. Pass.

Another pass is the park’s closed Intamin MegaLite called… MegaLite in the same area of the park as the parrots: “Shangri La”. Looks like this area is not happening today.

Funny enough we were able to enter the ride’s exit and maintenance area without any problem, so at least we got to look at it?

Happy Valley Shanghai’s rough mix of surprises and disappointments has made me hungry. Let’s get some Pizza Hut at the front of the park and try find a way to communicate we only want cheese as the mandarin-menu only features products with meat!

Luckily we were successful and the staff was awesome, let’s throw in a desert to top it off as Chinese Pizza Hut is infinitely more pristine than the US locations.

Thanks to the park’s Vekoma Flying Island we were able to enjoy the view of the park, which again doesn’t look all that bad from up above!

Our first truly-Chinese coaster of the trip was a ride named Coastal Ant manufactured by the infamous Golden Horse company.

The ride’s layout, clearances and supports were fascinatingly wild, we had a great time!

The park’s impressive Playa Maya water park was closed, however the ocean-themed area was open and is home to almost all ocean themed rides and a ride themed to elves… Crazy Elves. A standard Zamperla spinning mouse.

“Mermaid Square”is home to B&M’s version of the Vekoma Family Suspended coaster named Family Inverted Coaster which was quite intense for a family coaster. Score!

The ride hovers over the ocean themed area where a traditionally horrible looking sea lion show could be found as well.

Yay for the good family coaster!

The area is also home to an indoor section with some rides and aquariums. By now you may have figured that OCT should probably not house animals. These aquariums are no different. Wait til you see some of the other trip reports!

The area was very cute, however!

The front of the park is also home to a giant stadium, that doesn’t seem to be in use too frequently, as well as a pirate themed area!

The area is home to a Top Scan, a terrifying chinese version!

As well as a double Top Spin providing awesome views of the rest of the park.

And the park’s signature water ride themed to a mix of Jaws and Jurassic Park on a budget!

Now the real star of the park? Mine Train Coaster! At first I couldn’t figure out if it was open or not but eventually found a queue leading to the station. Happy that it was open, I was even happier to find out it was actually the best coaster at the park!

The unique 60 feet tall Intamin Ulven coaster may not quite look very thrilling, but it is wild!  A great first drop, intense transitions and a plethora of helices.

In addition the ride vehicles are spacious and the ride is actually themed with beautiful rock work.

Now Mine Train Coaster is 10 years old, the ride also has quite some vegetation that has grown in and the ride truly feels like its own standalone product. A fantastic ride!

And with one final shot of the magnificent Mine Train Coaster we’re going to say goodbye to Happy Valley Shanghai, a park with tremendous potential, some operational mishaps and some surprises. Truly a park that captures the Chinese theme park industry nicely.

Thank you for checking out this Happy Valley Shanghai report! We visited 14 parks in 10 days all across East and South China and can’t wait to tell you all about them! Check out other recent China reports and podcasts:

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