Monday, September 14, 2009

Happy Valley Shanghai

After staying busy the past few weeks with work and several side projects, I decided to take a day off and pay a visit to China’s newest theme park Happy Valley Shanghai. With almost 3 years of construction and occupying a space over 10,000,000 square feet Happy Valley Shanghai is China’s largest amusement park and interesting enough located directly behind my place of work, Sheshan Golf Club. Over the past six months, I’ve had the opportunity to watch the theme park grow everyday as the park’s main attraction, a large inverted steel roller coaster, can be clearly seen from Sheshan’s 16th hole.

Below is a picture of Sheshan’s 16th Green. This picture was taken on a cold, winter day in January. The object sticking out over the horizon is the beginning of the roller coaster.

Now fast forward seven months and here is the same picture taken on a beautiful sunny day in August, with the completed roller coaster seen clearly in the distance.

Happy Valley features dozens of attractions but for me the highlight of my visit was the interaction with the locals. With virtually no foreigners visiting the park that day, it seemed like I had become one of the newest attractions as everyone wanted to come and speak with the “tall blond-haired American”. Even though I’ve been in China for 2.5 years now I still get a kick out of interacting with the locals. I enjoy speaking Chinese with them and happily take pictures with them, as many Chinese love having their picture taken with a foreigner.

That day the main buzz was Happy Valley’s giant coaster. We referred to the coaster as “jiu shi du”, which directly translated mean “90 degree” in English. The nickname comes from the fact that the coaster features … you guessed it … a 90-degree angle vertical drop from the top. Now many of my friends here in Shanghai questioned my willingness to ride a "Chinese-built" roller coaster in China, due to “safety issues”. But after doing some research I found out that this coaster, was designed by one of America’s top roller coaster engineering companies and is the exact replica of “SheiKra” the newest roller coaster at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay! Check out the following link:

Overall it was a wonderful day at the park. I went on a Monday and spent the day with some of our caddies from Sheshan Golf Club. We rode rides all day, ate KFC for lunch, and rarely had to wait in line for any of the rides. Some of you may be wondering how China’s largest amusement park was allowed to be built so close to a private golf club. Well this is something everyone at Sheshan is all wondering now. We’ve had some complaints from some of the members about the noise and that the roller coaster is a huge “eyesore” but instead of joining the protests against the park, I decided to join the park. I enjoyed it so much I picked up a membership card for only 388 RMB (about $56), not bad for unlimited access for the following year. We’ll see how Tiger reacts when he comes and plays the course this November. Stayed tuned, but for now here is a breakdown of the six remaining pictures:

#1 - Close Up picture of the "90 Degree" Roller Coaster

#2 - At the top of the "Sky Tower" Ride overlooking "Fireball" China's first wooden roller coaster

#3 - View from the top of the "90 Degree" with Sheshan Mountain in the background

#4 - At the top of the "Sky Tower" Ride overlooking the park's lake and largest water ride

#5 - View of the "Sky Tower" Ride and "Fireball" Wooden Coaster

#6 - Some very interesting themes are located throughout the park

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