Time Out heads to five of the region's water parks in search of the best place to get wet and wild this summer including splash zones in Changzhou, Nanjing, Hangzhou, Suzhou and Dino Beach in Shanghai
Mystical Yancheng Chunqiu Dream Park (淹城春秋乐园) may be something of a mouthful but at least it’s easy enough to get to, less than two hours from Shanghai including a half-hour taxi ride from Changzhou Railway Station.
While the rest of the park opens at 9am,the water section is only open from midday, and it’s most fun during the evening, from 5.30-10.30pm, when flood lights shine and party music plays. Arriving in the day therefore, it’s worth exploring the rest of the park, which is highly entertaining. Rides such as the ‘Speed Dragon’, a Zamperla steel flying roller coaster, are just as hairraising as they sound.
As the sun goes down, the water park comes to life. The night sky combined with multi-coloured flood lights and blaring Cantopop creates a surreal disco feel – though the pool remains full of children under five. There is some adult ‘entertainment’, however – after 9pm, bevies of beauties sashay onto an island stage which juts into the water and parade around to more loud music.
The best of the few rides is the ‘treehouse’, a colourful climbing frame with four slides that branch out at different angles. Only two are big enough for grown ups, and we can’t help feeling a little out of place.
Second is the ‘tsunami-machine’ which produces waves of up to three metres, but it’s tame compared to Happy Magic Water Cube’s five-metre high wave machine.
Food and drinks are cheap with poolside meat sticks available for 2RMB and there are also numerous restaurants around the entrance. But while the rest of Chunqiu Dream Park is worth a trip, its water park’s paucity of rides mean you’re better off elsewhere if you fancy a splash.
Getting there Regular high speed gaotie trains to Changzhou from Hongqiao Railway Station take one and a half hours and cost around 60RMB/one way. Mystical Yancheng Chunqiu Dream Park is a 30-minute taxi ride from Changzhou Station. Tickets for the Night Park are 80RMB/adult (above 120cm), which includes free entry to the water park.
Prices are around 80RMB/child, 160RMB/adult, but at different times of day and year vary so check their website before setting off.
Chunqiu Dream Park 58 Wuyi Nan Lu, Wujin district, Changzhou (40 0188 0005; www.cn-yc.com.cn). Open 5.30-10.30pm, daily from June 28-August 31 only. .常州市 武进区武宜南路588号.
Despite the plethora of recent water park openings in neighbouring cities, Dino Beach (热带风暴水上乐园) is still Shanghai’s only serious contender. As such, they’ve little incentive to switch things up and this summer offer their familiar formula of Beach Honey beauty contests, large crowds and frustrating sub-charges for everything from lockers to rubber rings.
The slides, eight in total, are all good fun and so is the wave pool – one of Asia’s largest – but if you’ve been before you’ll know exactly what to expect. The only new addition for 2012 is a slightly revamped kids pool. With prohibitive pricing and new alternatives in Jiangsu and Zhejiang, you may be better off looking elsewhere for your water park fix this summer.
Getting there Take the metro to Lianhua Lu (on Line 1) or Qibao Town (on Line 9) and
hail a three-wheeler or a taxi. Entry costs 120-200RMB/adult, 120/children under 150cm. Open until the end of the month.
Dino Beach 78 Xinzhen Lu, near Gudai Lu, Minhang (6478 3333; www.64783333.com). Open 2-10pm Mon; 10am-10pm Tue- Sun. Qibao Zhen. 闵行区新镇路78号,近顾戴路
The Happy Magic Water Cube (欢乐水魔方水上乐园) isn’t actually a cube – it takes its name from Beijing’s Olympic Water Cube – but it is pretty magic. Billed as Asia’s largest outdoor water park, it features a
fantastically fun range of slides and rides, with more on the way; the park only opened
to the public in late June.
The genuinely terrifying ‘Overturning Rivers and Seas’ flume is the one to head for. Victims clamber inside a gas chamberlike compartment which is then closed around you. An attendant gives you a countdown from three before a trap door opens beneath, sending you on a near vertical 16m drop at 60km/h before you emerge breathless at the slide’s exit.
We’re so enamoured with this water park that we recommended it as a day trip in its own right in last month’s ‘Great Escapes’issue and it demanded a place in this roundup – it’s the best water park in the area.
Getting there Regular high speed gaotie trains to Nanjing from Hongqiao Railway Station take around one and a half hours and cost from 135RMB/one way. It’s an 80RMB taxi ride from Nanjing Station. Tickets cost 180RMB, with discounts available after 5.30pm, for those under 150cm and on group-buying websites.
Happy Magic Water Cube Tangshan Street, Jiangding district, Nanjing (025 8410 5666; http://nj.happymagicwatercube.com). Open 10am-9.30pm Mon-Fri, 9.30am-9.30pm Sat- Sun. 南京市江宁区汤山街道黄栗墅
Built on the south bank of the Qiantang River, Paradise Park (杭州乐园) is Hangzhou’s biggest theme park. Only an hour from Shanghai, at weekends it draws large crowds to its combination of standard loop-the-loop roller coasters, spinning tops and flying galleons, all based on Inca, pirate and Mad Hatter’s tea party themes.
Far more exciting is the water park in the centre. It features ten slides, a 10,000sqm water area for kids, a 6,000sqm wave pool, a toadstool garden and a Sleeping Beauty castle, and while long queues in the summer are tedious (avoid weekends if possible), Paradise Park is certainly worth the journey.
The highlight is easily the bungee rope that dangles over the wave pool – a slightly precarious-looking attraction which accommodates both solo jumpers and twoperson tandem-seats (60RMB/person). Also fun is the six-flume slide which starts atop a five-storey tower. The recommended run up is to shoot down on a float head first – though be careful not to use it as a chin rest, we almost lost our tongue.
Getting there Fast trains to Hangzhou Railway Station leave regularly from Shanghai Hongqiao Station and take one hour. A taxi from Hangzhou Station to Paradise Park costs roughly 80RMB. Alternatively, take the K515 shuttle bus, which leaves from Longxiang Qiao (龙翔桥) bus station on Yanan Lu, directly there. Tickets cost 160RMB/adult and 80RMB/ child. Open until the end of this month.
Paradise Park 2555 Fengqing Avenue, Hangzhou (0571 8288 0333; www.hzparadise.net). Open 9.30am-8.30pm Mon-Fri, 9am-8.30pm Sat-Sun. 杭州市风情大道2555号
If the kids are desperate for a fun day out at a water park but you’re put off by memories of over-crowding at Dino Beach or don’t want to travel far, then Playa Maya is a local solution to your problem.
Perhaps it’s simply the fact that the (loosely) Mayan themed attraction has only been open since July 2013 that explains why even during the weekends the attraction remains only moderately busy, rather than packed out. Regardless, it’s a situation that should be taken advantage of.
Chime Long in far off Guangzhou might be bigger, but Playa Maya is still one of China’s largest water parks, spread over 150,000 square meters, with over 40 rides alongside the world’s the world’s largest wave machine, capable of producing waves 3.5m high. Those worried about hygiene can breathe easy since the 21,000 cubic meters of water that sloshes around the park gets disinfected every four to six hours.
There are the usual sneaky charges to deal with – lockers cost 30RMB on top of your ticket, with an additional 20RMB deposit required – but they don’t sour the experience. For a fun swim within the city limits complete Playa Maya is definitely the best option.
Getting there Take the metro to Sheshan (Line 9) and catch the free shuttle bus found in the small depot next to the metro station.
Playa Maya 888 Linhu Lu, near, Linye Lu, Songjiang district (021 3779 2222; www. playamaya.cn). Open 11am-9pm daily. 150RMB Mon-Fri, 180RMB Sat-Sun. 市松江区 林湖路888号, 近林荫大道
Suzhou Amusement Land (苏州乐园), with its oddly endearing combination of tacky ‘Europeanstyle’ buildings and old-school rollercoasters has seen better days, but the adjacent water park is a far newer and, in summer at least, more popular attraction. Although queues and crowds are generally smaller than at Dino Beach, you can still expect plenty of company for the park’s range of rides and pools.
The highlights are the ‘Whirlwind Slideway’, a giant half pipe that you whip down on four-person rubber rings, and the adjacent ‘Octopus Slideway’, which features four flumes propelling you over steep drops.
The wave pool is much like those found at the other parks on this list (though Dino Beach’s is larger) and the a dedicated pool for lane swimming is spoiled by punters using it for dive bomb practice. There is however a large spa area (50RMB/hour) with baths including milk, mint and nibbling fish, providing a break from the crowds.
Overall, it’s a fun park and a cheaper option than Dino Beach, but doesn’t offer enough to make a dedicated trip worthwhile.
Getting there Regular gaotie trains from Hongqiao Railway Station and Shanghai Railway Station take around 30 minutes and cost from 40RMB/one way. The park has a dedicated stop on the Tourist Bus 3 route which starts from beside Suzhou Railway Station. Tickets cost 100RMB/adult and 80RMB/child under 140cm. The park is open until the end of this month.
Water World of Suzhou Amuseument Land 87 Jinshan Lu, Tiger Hill district, Suzhou (0512 6871 7107; www.szal.cn/waterpark/). Open 10am-10pm Mon-Fri, 9am-10pm Sat-Sun. 苏州市虎丘区金山路87号