CC Joyland is one of China’s newest amusement parks. It’s located near the city of Changzhou in Jiangsu province, a bit over 150 kilometers from Shanghai. When it opened the park rose to fame in America for being a shameless rip off of Blizzard’s Warcraft and Starcraft video game franchises. This infamy is what put Joyland high on my China to-do list.
Like many amusement parks, Joyland is broken up into themed sections: Fantasy Square (park entrance), Taobao Street (shopping), Terrain of Magic (Warcraft clone), Universe of Starship (Starcraft theme), World of Legend (more Warcraft), and Mole’s World (for children). All these sections surround a central lake with an island covered in fountains in the middle.
I think the Terrain of Magic is the best of the sections. The decorations are a really well done; it’s obvious the designers spent more time and money here than the others. The music pumping out of hidden speakers sounded just like some music you’d find in a video like Zelda. While walking down the street, the orchestra is happy and upbeat. As you get closer to the attractions the music changes to something more dark and forbidding.
The most common type of attraction at Joyland is the 4D movie where the riders wear a set of 3D glasses and the seats move and shake in time with the video. Some of these movies are pretty good, especially the one where the seats move along a track instead of just staying still and shuddering. Through the park, about half the attractions we visited were these 4D movies. As a fan of amusement parks and rides, this was a bit disappointing. Of course we visited near the end of the season and right before the large national holiday so while the park was basically empty it also meant that many attractions were closed. Maybe if we visited at a different time more attractions would be open.
There are some more traditional rides like a tower drop, three roller coasters, a flume ride, and a couple of water slides to beat the summer heat. But compared to a place like Hershey Park there isn’t much.
Overall I had a good time at Joyland but that had more to do with the fact that it was something new to see than any technical wonder of the park. The shameless intellectual property rip offs were pretty entertaining. One thing the Warcraft theme did inspire me to do is visit the Harry Potter park in Florida sometime. I bet that’s a lot better since it was built properly with everyone’s blessing. But if you’re visiting Joyland as a theme park aficionado you’re going to leave let down. I’m sure part of the reason is the difference between Chinese and American park goers. Chinese people seem much more interested in the 4D movies so park builders cater to those desires. Or maybe Joyland just isn’t a great park and there are better ones near Shanghai or Beijing with bigger and faster roller coasters.
You can take a shuttle bus from the Wuxi long distance bus station or the Changzhou train station. We left from Changzhou and the bus took about an hour. It was pretty difficult to find where the bus in Changzhou left from. It was a small, kind of dingy waiting room separated from the rest of the station. If you don’t have a Chinese speaker to continually ask for directions to the waiting you might have trouble finding it.
The park costs 200 RMB to enter, but that also includes the free shuttle to and from the park. Even if you drive to the park it still costs 200 RMB.