I won't rehash what's already been written. Lived in Shanghai for 4 years and have been here a lot with my kids. Always a good time unless we make the rookie mistake of going when it's crowded (national holidays, weekends, etc). Unlike say a zoo or park, when things get crowded, the enjoyment factor goes WAY down (can't even get close to the tanks to see anything without a lot of elbowing and pushing). So you've been warned (you should know better anyways if you live here). But otherwise, clean, well laid out (for the most part, more later) and well stocked with lots of bilingual posters. Not sure I would agree with the review that this ranks up there in the top 6 in the WORLD (crowd control is an issue on busy days), but it's one of the best in China for sure. With that out of the way, some tips:
1. For the price (currently 160/adult, 130/kids above 1meter high= a family of three is over 400rmb for one visit), I'd recommend if you are living here or nearby, to get an annual pass (883 for family of three). You just have to go 3 times in one year to make it worth it. For us (3 young kids) we do that easily. For the younger crowd its a place you don't really get tired of, and for the adults, knowing you have unlimited entry means you can go for just a morning without feeling you have to see the whole thing to "get your money's worth".
2. One drawback to the layout is that once you leave each floor (it has 3 floors) there's no going back. Lots of one-way traffic with some bad choke points, so make sure you see everything and take your time before continuing. I've found that this strategy also helps alleviate a bit of the "China mobs" since many people are just pushing forward and the crowds seem to come in waves. So don't be intimidated by a crowded exhibit (unless you have gone on a holiday), if you give it some time, you should catch a break and be able to enjoy the exhibit without four people breathing down your neck.
3. Because of #2 above (one-way traffic) there isn't really anything to eat until you get to the end (but then can't go back). So make sure to bring snack and drinks for the kids. I am not sure if this is in violation of any "official" rules but you'll see almost everyone munching and drinking and I've never seen anyone scolded- probably don't want to lay down a picnic blanket and take out a pot roast though.
4. Do NOT eat at the cafeteria, I and my friends have had some bad stomach issues. But why would you anyway? Like I wrote, once you get to the cafeteria you're at the end of the aquarium anyways, it's not like you can eat their overpriced and poor quality food, and go back to see some more. So just leave the building and munch at the numerous fine restaurants and eateries in the area (Superbrand mall is just a short walk away with dozens of great options).
Hope this helps!
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