New Aquatic Theme Park Opens in Shanghai to Take On Disneyland

Move aside, Disneyland. Shanghai is now home to a second major theme park. On Friday, the city debuted the 73-acre Haichang Ocean Park, a little more than two and years after the doors opened at Shanghai Disneyland and Resort.

The park is owned by Haichang Ocean Park Holdings, which is listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The company already operates other smaller leisure facilities in China and is building another full-scale theme park at Sanya, on China’s tropical island Hainan.

Development and construction of the Shanghai park took five years. It was built at a published cost of $795 million. 

The park will allow Shanghai city-dwellers to come face to face with sharks, beluga whales and polar bears. It boasts five themed zones, three animal theaters where marine creatures such as dolphins will perform, and thrill rides, including a roller-coaster and what its developer claims is the “world’s longest rapids ride.” There’s also a mermaid bay, a fake volcano, exhibits on deep-sea creatures, and a “360-degree penguin super bowl,” where tourists can observe the birds. A local TV news report from early last month during its soft opening showed bare-chested African drummers dancing in front of a statue of leaping killer whales.

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Tickets are cheaper than for Disneyland, with standard day tickets at around $50. Hollywood-based Legacy Entertainment, which designed the park, said it expects to draw 5 million to 6 million visitors each year.

Legacy on Friday also announced two other new Asian projects in Indonesia. In Bali, the company will work with Indonesian partners CT Corp. and Trans Studio to create what it calls the “world’s first social media theme park,” set to open in early 2019.

“Nowadays, everyone is viewing the world through their smartphone cameras, so we thought it could be an exciting idea to draw that parallel by creating the world’s first park specifically ‘designed for camera,'” managing director Marcus King said. Another park in Cibubur, an administrative region near Jakarta, will also debut next year.