Halloween in China
It was October 2012 and Halloween was fast approaching. With Nomadic American fresh into the country and feeling a little homesick, we decided to do something for the Halloween weekend to act as both distraction and unorthodox celebration of the popular US holiday.
Having grown up in Australia, where Halloween is mostly just an excuse to host a party at which men wear suits and girls wear the sluttiest outfit possible, most of my understanding of the holiday comes from US TV and movies. I can’t attest to whether or not the Changzhou Dinosaur Park did the holiday justice from an American perspective, but it was certainly a fun alternative to spending it in my apartment in Nanjing.
Known also as China Dinosaurs Park and China Dinosaurs Land, Changzhou Dinosaur Park certainly laid on the dinosaurs element.
Getting to the Changzhou Dinosaur Park
Getting to Changzhou is quite easy. As one of the many large cities in the populous Jiangsu province, it is well connected to other cities by both bus and the high speed G-Trains. Some advertisements even place it in Shanghai, due to its relatively close proximity.
To get to Changzhou by train takes approximately 45 minutes from either Nanjing or Shanghai.
Once in the town, most taxi drivers will know the Changzhou Dinosaur Park, as it is one of the most famous tourist spots not only in the town – but in the province.
Alternatively, you can take either the #26 or the #302 bus – both of which travel to the park.
Entry into the Changzhou Dinosaur Park is 80rmb (approximately $15) and half as much for children.
Why a Dinosaur Park?
Chinese theme parks are known around the world for their unorthodox or downright confusing themes. World Joyland, near the Dinosaur Park, is infamous for its unlicensed use of World of WarCraft and StarCraft imagery in its park as well as being a blatant copy of Islands of Adventure in layout, complete with dodgy Disney merchandise.
While Beijing boasts a theme park that is an unabashed knock-off of the Disney parks (Shijingshan Amusement Park), there’s even a midget theme park (the Kingdom of the Little People) in south-western China.
In this case, however, Changzhou has a basis for its dinosaur park. At the heart of the amusement park is a large museum where visitors can learn about dinosaurs, as well as seeing the fossils of locally discovered dinosaurs such as the Sinosauropteryx, Brachiosaurus, and Hadrosaurus.
From these relatively humble roots, an entire dinosaur themed park has sprung up – complete with cavemen, dinosaurs outfitted for battle Dino Riders style, and everything in between.
The biggest reason that I wanted to visit the Dinosaur Park was to go on a few rides. As you can probably tell from my collection of theme park reviews, I’m an unabashed fan of thrill rides. On this front, the Changzhou Dinosaur Park does have one very worthy contender.
Introducing, the Dinoconda.
As one of the relatively few 4-D Rollercoasters in the world, the Dinoconda was an absolute pleasure to ride. You start the ascent backwards and, when that mighty steep drop comes, you’re tackling it both backwards and upside down. It’s an utter blast!
As you can see from the above video, it is one hell of a ride and totally worth the 2+ hour wait.
Other thrill rides are the park include the Crazy Dragon (a gyroswing similar to The Claw at Dreamworld), the Rubra, and a number of higher energy water park rides in the attached Peak Water World.
Other Rides & Attractions
The park does, of course, boast other rides – although none of them manage to approach the sheer radness of the Dinoconda.
Throughout the various themed ‘worlds’ (Rubra, Cook Suker Grand Canyon, Magic Rainforest, Neverland, and Fort Aventura) there are all of the theme park staples, including plenty of kid specific rides in Neverland and the aforementioned water park. Sadly, this particularly part of the park wasn’t opened on the cold and rainy October day that we visited.
There are also a variety of other, non-ride attractions around. We stumbled past a great many shows that we wouldn’t have been able to understand with our rudimentary understanding of Mandarin.
Nomadic American did, however, avail herself of the opportunity to be lifted up by an elephant. While I’ve since decided that elephants used in such a manner are almost invariably abused and would not condone such a thing now, at the time we could plead ignorance.
And it was kind of cool to see the celebrity reaction the pretty white girl got when the elephant hefted her into the air.
While we didn’t stick around long enough to see it (it was cold!), there is also a night parade each evening that illuminates the darkening streets in pretty stunning style.
Theme park visits are all about junk food, if you ask me. I can’t imagine a day at an amusement park without hot dogs, soda, and whatever other sickly sweet, highly unhealthy food tickles your taste buds.
On this front, Chinese theme parks struggle a little from a western viewpoint. While the food on offer is rarely healthy, it’s Chinese street food – which means it’s often jarringly spicy or boasts meat of a mysterious origin.
The park did have a KFC and a McDonalds, if memory serves, and even had the world’s saddest TCBY. I’m not sure if The Country’s Best Yogurt knows that it has a Chinese branch, mind…
Oh Yeah, Halloween…
With the exception of a lot of effort put into decorations, the park also had a number of spookier attractions added for the occasion. There was a haunted ghost walk that we never did get an opportunity to explore, but we did both partake in a little face-painting for the occasion.
Changzhou Dinosaur Park/China Dinosaurs Land/China Dinosaurs World is a fun day trip if you’re based out of Shanghai, Nanjing, or Changzhou. There are enough rides and attractions to entertain all ages, and there’s the added experience of seeing how the Chinese do a theme park.
I found it to be a much more pleasant experience than my visit to Happy Valley Chengdu, and there was something quite charming about the abundance of cheesy dinosaur paraphernalia scattered around the park.
You can learn more about China Dinosaur Park at their website.