If you’ve a few red notes to spend, a penchant for chocolate and a couple spare hours then here's suggestion.
Jump on the Metro to the end of line 7, Huamu Lu. Walk into the new mall in the Kerry Centre – hit up the massive new Baker & Spice and tuck into a whole Chocolate Strawberry cake.
Whatever you do – do not cross the road, go into the architecturally god-awful Jumeirah center and buy a RMB 100 ticket for the World Chocolate Wonderland. Inside is one of the worst events that has ever come to Shanghai (alongside the Thailand Expo Pavilion and that first gig in the new-new Mao Livehouse which got shut down by the police before it started).
The Wonderland, as rumor has it, is a chocolate theme park to rival Willy Wonka. They tout the terracotta warriors cast in chocolate, a fully recreated chocolate Bund (complete with flowing chocolate Huangpu river) and a factory where you can make your own chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate. Chocolate!!! What they don’t mention is how utterly unimpressive all of this is.
Set to an Alvin-Chipmunk style jingle on permanent loop, in what feels like a skyscraper still under construction, with a handful of crafty mascots repeatedly shoved in your face. You’ll wander through a series of mildly refrigerated spaces that smell of chocolate.
Behind the glass there’ll be a series of ‘things’ made of out chocolate. Guides in winter coats and Jester hats will explain the marvels of how liquid chocolate can take any shape when solid and how white chocolate and brown chocolate can be used to make white or brown items. I guarantee you’ll raise an eyebrow at a couple, go ‘meh’ at a few and instantly forget the rest.
The Terracotta Warriors are amongst the ever-so-slightly impressive. They look like rows of angry Chinese Easter bunnies.
Unfortunately by this stage you’ve already paraded past a whole display dedicated to a mediocre galleon… and the laughable Lujiazui scene.
Elsewhere there are a couple of Transformers, a Lenovo, a Vespa, a wall of Buddha, the world’s most expensive chocolate and to keep the locals happy – some Louis Vuitton. All of which is punctuated by heavily branded displays, some chef making a cake and human-size blocks of chocolate dancing around.
Before you know it, the tiny free chocolate has been munched, you’ve marvelled at the DIY factory and are on the ‘street’ of chocolatier gift shops. Was that an actual wedding going on back there? Forget it. Get out before the music and the mascots seep into your soul and you actually try to eat the one of the massive chess pieces at the entranceway. Be warned, they’re made of plastic and probably covered in infant drool.