World Expo Practice Launch Questionable

Events, Five Star, Hotels, Things to Do, What's New — By Lauren Johnson on April 24, 2010 at 9:00 am

The organizers for the Shanghai World Expo decided to do a trial run on the expo compound to see what possible improvements could be made before the actual May Day opening. The conclusion, “space, time and mindset” need fixing before the soon-approaching May 1 opening ceremony. Visitors complained that security was tight, lines were extremely long, and once people made it inside the compound they were disappointed with the number of open pavilions and the food. This leaves organizers with precious little time before some 70 million people descend on the city expecting 2008 Beijing Olympic-like theatrics and sights.

Pushing and crowding are already common in China (social traits that have become the dominant in China’s large cities because of the sheer number of people involved in any one event) so the massive lines full of foreigners and other new arrivals only made that competitive, anti-queuing trait more dominant. This is a massive problem for the organizers, who have erected cattle bar queuing lines around security and pavilion entrances. This is unlikely to do much except force more crowding. Nevertheless, it is part of the China experience, and visitors will come to realize that quickly during the expo. While many complained that they did not like the food, the expo organizers have tried to have foods from many cultures available, so perhaps the dislike of the food was mostly locals trying new things and not enjoying the new sensations. While Chinese cuisine can be diverse, most Chinese do not enjoy eating outside their traditional habits, and prefer to experience the range of tastes withing the Chinese repertoire.

With 70 million new faces in Shanghai, you can bet prices will sky rocket for food and hotels. But there are deals yet to be found. If you make your reservation 21 days in advance or more, Hilton gives you a discount. Marriott Hotels has a similar deal if you book before May 1st. Local hotels, like the Shanghai Metropole offer cheaper rates, but what you get in return may be less. You can also go local, and search for Shanghai hotels and try to get last minute deals on non-name brand joints.

Food prices are not only bound to be higher, but all the best restaurants will be packed and staff will be overworked and haggard. You can find amazing Chinese food nearly everywhere in Shanghai if you are willing to pop into any establishment on the street. Give everything a try, from food carts on the Bund to the fanciest eateries of Nanjing Road.

Tags: hotel deals, launch, may day, shanghai world expo


  • annie says:

    I think this article was written non-objectively. There were no massive lines of foreigners when I visited the Expo on May 3rd and I doubt there was during the trial period. As I’m sure you’ve read elsewhere, a projected 95% of the expected 70 million visitors to the Expo are expected to be domestic.

    And if, as you say, “Chinese people do not enjoy eating outside their traditional habits,” then they likely would not have deviated from the numerous Chinese restaurants at the Expo site. I think most complaints stemmed from the lack of affordable food, not as you imply, a lack of Chinese food. Visiting one familiar Shanghai chain’s location at the Expo in the afternoon, I was dismayed that they did not offer their reasonably-priced menu available at its other locations, but instead only provided set lunches, the cheapest one at 268rmb per head. This sort of behavior is nothing more than gouging.

    Lastly, I have never seen food vendors on the Bund. Is this a new thing? Most of the Shanghai’s fancy eateries, catering to Western tastes, is on the Bund not Nanjing Road, which is for more mall dining.

  • Lauren Johnson says:

    Annie, thanks for your comments.

    I don’t intend to be objective as I write my opinions about the city as someone who lives and works here, I’m entitled to my non-objectivity as much as the next person 😉 Thats the beauty of a blog.

    I thought the prices at the expo were high as well, but stick to my opinion that some of the complaints stemmed from the choices available as well as the costs.

    By food vendor I meant to imply street food carts, which I’ve grown to love in Shanghai. There is an especially great chuan (kebab) cart on the Bund in the evenings. And while you are right that most of the fanciest, Western-style restaurants can be found on the Bund, one of the delights of SH is that cheaper options exists right beneath the expensive ones.

    Great to hear your insight! Feel free to comment on anything and add your opinions to the mix!!!

  • stephen cohen says:

    There are a lot of Chinese restaurants at the Expo, that likely isn’t the problem. There are also many many choices, from Burger King to South Beauty, but the prices are inflated. The Expo initially was not allowing visitors to bring in their own food, but I believe that policy has changed.

    With the Bund promenade renovated and likely heavily policed during the Expo, there probably won’t be any street carts allowed there. They definitely are not permitted on the sidewalks with the heritage buildings converted to posh retail/dining.

    Although you live/work in Shanghai, this entry is skewed a bit much with a negative bias or narrow-mindedness towards local Chinese. You are very much entitled to your own opinion if this is your personal blog, if it is more a forum of advice for others, it wouldn’t hurt to do more research.

  • annie says:

    “The Expo 2010 organizer has brought down food prices at the Expo site to an average of about 38 yuan (US$5.57) a meal from 45 yuan and will continue to lower prices as more visitors come to the Expo, a senior Expo organizer said yesterday.

    More than 80 percent of the restaurants are now offering mid- and low-price food, Lin Shengyong, director of Commercial Administration and Service Department of the Expo site told a press conference.

    All the restaurants in the public areas of the site have promised to lower food prices and the organizer will supervise them for the Expo’s duration, he said.

    The Expo bureau has reduced the commission from food companies at the site to 3 percent from 8 percent, to ensure they can still make profits after reducing food prices.

    The bureau is also planning to reduce the electricity and water fees for the restaurants at the site.

    In a further effort to cut costs, the food companies are allowed to choose raw-material suppliers rather than those designated by the organizer as previously planned.”


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