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Lowdown on Zone C - the good, the bad and the shortcuts

ZONE C of the World Expo site is both exciting and frustrating. The good news is that you will have the most diverse choices - 57 national/joint pavilions with 133 countries from Europe, the Americas and Africa. And there are no nine-hour queues, like the ones to get into the Saudi Arabia Pavilion in Zone A.

The bad news is that many pavilions in Zone C require more than three hours of queuing. It's common to see lines at almost every pavilion in this zone - at the main entrance, green channel, shops, restaurants and passport stamping stations. The Europe Station is also the most crowded shuttle stop in the site.

In early May, the Bureau of Shanghai World Expo Coordination released the top 10 most popular pavilions when the Expo had just started, based on average number of visitors waiting in line. Six out of the 10 listed are in Zone C and they remain among the most crowded.

This takes a look at the most crowded Zone C pavilions - Belgium-EU, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, UK, and USA. On a normal week day with around 400,000 visitors, it usually takes more than two hours for these pavilions, some more than four or even five.

Don't worry. There is a way to get around.

Some pavilions have long queues but the queues are constantly moving, while others have shorter but slow-moving lines.

We at Shanghai Daily offer some advice about how to skip some queues, how to wisely arrange your schedule, and how to get more out of these venues.

Belgium Pavilion

The "Brain Cell," as the pavilion's internal structure is called, has EU and Belgian sections. The exhibitions about history and culture of EU are mostly the same for all EU pavilions, though each country is different - you can pass them in five minutes.

Highlights: tunnel with an audio visual show, the chocolate corner and the beer corner.

The show includes 14 screens displaying 3-D images of 14 Belgian cities - quite an experience as the images on the 1.65-meter-high screens are very realistic.

Chocolate makers, diamond cutters and brew masters demonstrate their skills in different areas. Two chocolate makers produce all kinds of chocolate. And they mold them into all kinds of things, like the 70-centimeter-high Oriental Pearl TV Tower model.

Two boxes of free dark and milk chocolates, one for each visitor, are given out at 11am, 3pm and 6pm.

Diamonds and more than 20 kinds of beer are for sale. Unfortunately there is no free beer, but there's a lucky draw of diamonds.

Each day there are six lucky draw winners of diamond jewelry with values ranging from 2,999 yuan (US$439) to 4,999 yuan.


Eat at the restaurant on the second floor to avoid the queue. Then take your receipt and show it to the exit of the restaurant for quick admission into the pavilion. The staff will check it to confirm you ate at the restaurant that day.

A receipt of more than 100 yuan also puts you into a lucky draw - seven winners among restaurant customers will get a piece of diamond jewelry every week.

Send SMS to take part in the daily lucky draw for all visitors. China Mobile users can text 8 to 106-698-810, China Unicom users text 6 to 106-652-9866, and China Telecom users text 361 to 106-698-812. Each message costs 1 yuan.

There's a monthly lucky draw for those attending quiz sessions in the pavilion. The prize is two round-trip tickets from China to any European country served by Air France.

France pavilion

At the "Sensual City" one can line up for two hours and tour within 10 minutes. Pavilion guides keep repeating "Please keep moving forward, Please don't stay." So the line might look long but it's constantly moving.

There is not enough time to fully appreciate the French cinema on the screen or the highly promoted seven national treasured art pieces from the Orsay Museum.

If you can go to France, you can skip this one.

Be aware of a fragrance section about halfway through the pavilion. Many visitors emerge without knowing what that room is. You can smell the different fragrances inside hollow columns - or you can smell a lot of sweaty visitors.

The most impressive exhibition is the Louis Vuitton section, a magic show with the female performer collecting shining digital stars and putting them into LV bags.

Germany Pavilion

The "Balancity" often has the longest queues, but it has some of the richest and most diverse content in the zone. Some find it worth the wait.

It is very German - simple, accurate, technological and balanced. There are many great spots to take photos.

The interior is designed as a city, with everything needed for a city in balance - a harbor, a garden, a park, a town planning office, a depot, a studio, a city square, a residential area and a power plant.

Almost each section has an elevator and the coolest is the underwater lift, taking visitors to the harbor section.

The park section is great for photos, with a lot of cut-out standing figures into which visitors can put their heads.

There may be another queue at the end of the tour for the "Energy Source," the power plant of the virtual city. It is a 10-minute show with a 3-meter-diameter metal ball that can react to visitors' voices and movement. Second-floor seats have better views of the ball and more interactions.


You can get fast-pass entrance to the Germany Pavilion by collecting four out of six Expo stamps on a free ticket. A dozen tickets are available at each of the six venues daily - the four German UBPA cases in the Puxi section, the "China and Germany - Moving Ahead Together" Pavilion in Zone C (It will be demolished at the end of June) and the German Center Shanghai outside of the Expo Park.

You need a reservation ticket to use the green channel of the Germany Pavilion for those with physical disabilities.

If you want a taste of German culture without queuing, visit the outdoor exhibition area for German states. It is near the green channel.

Beer lovers can enjoy specially brewed, and strong, beer in the pavilion's restaurant and bar.

Italy pavilion

The "City of Man" has got everything Italy is known for - opera, fashion, "Roman Holiday," Federico Fellini, robots, a symphony orchestra, and more.

Some of these elements are apparent, such as the designers' dresses displayed up in the front. Others are hidden with hints for you to find.

For example, look for the exact replica of the bike that Audrey Hepburn rides in "Roman Holiday." Listen carefully to the music and you might get a pleasant surprise - part of a score from Fellini film.

Numerous craftsmen - shoe makers, violin makers, fine metal workers and tailors - take turns showcasing their skills.

For many visitors, it is the most visually pleasing pavilion in the zone, with the instruments of an entire symphony orchestra hanging on a wall in a huge hall, and displays of gorgeous gowns and shoes by famed Italian designers.


Try to get a fast pass to the Italy Pavilion by collecting six Expo stamps from UBPA cases - three Italian cases and three other stand-alone examples. Three hundred free tickets are available at the UBPA sites every day.

There is no stamping station for Italy Pavilion.

Pavilion staff may advise you to move ahead to take photos. But take pictures where you want, otherwise you'll find yourself at the exit before finding the perfect spot.

UK pavilion

The "Seed Cathedral" is one of the most innovative concepts among all Expo pavilions.

The construction is formed of 60,000-plus transparent acrylic rods containing seeds from all over the world - taken from the Royal Botanical Gardens.

Visitors can watch, touch and recognize these seeds.

The pavilion is simply a beautiful hall glowing with light from the seeds, a place for reflection, where a thought might be planted.

It is a lofty and abstract concept, but there's not much to "see," so if you want a lot of color, stuff and interactivity, the seeds may not be for you.

USA pavilion

Set aside at least 30 minutes to tour this pavilion. It features three movies in three separate halls, and an exhibition at the end.

You can skip the exhibition - it's just a display of the pavilion's sponsors.

Each movie is about five to 10 minutes. You cannot skip to the next room before a movie ends, unless you want to skip the whole thing by exiting the pavilion.

The first movie is rather cute with typical American humor - they just take a video camera and ask ordinary Americans on the street to say ni hao, which means "hello" in Chinese.

Chinese visitors are amused to see so many foreigners trying to speak Chinese. They are most amused when those in the movie get very frustrated - it's not that easy for foreigners.

Chinese visitors are also pleased to see the USA student ambassadors to greet and guide them in Chinese, and even some Shanghai dialect.

Of course they are not just ordinary Americans - a lot of them are employees from the pavilion's sponsoring companies - a much cleverer advertisement than the exhibition at the end of the pavilion.

The second film is a series of interviews of people from construction companies, schools and social organizations about working hard to build the nation. It's a bit long and some visitors get restless and irritated when they can't move immediately to the next movie.

The third one is a 4-D movie featuring a girl work hard to grow a garden. It's cute, but you can find better 4-D effects in other pavilions - this one is basically some wind and sudden rain drops.

Spain pavilion

AKA the Basket, the Spain Pavilion has one of the most eye-catching facades. The 8,000 hand-woven wicker panels can be seen from blocks away, some in black in the form of the Chinese characters ri (sun) and yue (moon).

The first exhibition hall features a fantastic movie and live show of flamenco dance. It's rather dark and exciting, with a video taped thunderstorm and a long corridor.

It gets brighter as you enter the second hall featuring a documentary movie about Spanish cities, scenes, sports, movies, etc.

And it's brighter still in the third exhibition section with baby Miguel, a 6.5-meter-tall robot bathed in sunshine pouring through the wicker panels. The electronically animated mechanical infant changes his expression while turning his head.

Some visitors have found the mechanical movement and the expression creepy, while others think it's cute.

Switzerland pavilion

The chair lift has made the Switzerland Pavilion one of the most crowded. Go on a sunny day if you want a ride: it doesn't operate in the rain.

For the first few weeks there were occasional mechanical problems and the ride was suspended. The pavilion management says a data cable is being replaced and everything should be running fine by today.

The 10-meter-high IMAX projection of "The Alps," a feature film, showcases spectacular mountain scenery and tells a moving story about a man climbing the treacherous peak that claimed his father's life years ago.

The rest of the pavilion can be browsed in 10 minutes.

Russia pavilion

AKA the Fairy Tale Castle or the Flower Castle has become one of the most crowded pavilions in the past two weeks, since word spread that it's great for kids.

It is a surrealistically colorful world like those in fairy tales or games. Envision yourself as a child and take a journey with Dunno and his friends from stories by Russian children's writer Nikolay Nosov.

The Expo Park is open for 15 hours from 9am to midnight.

Day tickets cost 160 yuan.

Night tickets cost 90 yuan.

Most pavilions are open from 9:30am to 10:30pm, but many don't allow queuing after 9pm. Night ticket holders are allowed into the site after 5pm but barred after 9pm.

Many pavilions' restaurants and shops have a different entrance, so check before getting into the long queue if you only want food or souvenirs.

Two bus stops, the Europe Station and the Houtan Station, are located in Zone C. The first is close to European countries and the second to American and African nations.

A ferry terminal is also near the European section. Exit 2 of Metro Line 13 leads to European countries. All transport is free inside the Expo Park.

The gate closest to European pavilions is Gate 7 and to American and African ones it's Gate 8, both accessible by Metro Line 7.

All national pavilions are in the Pudong section and corporate and city cases from the Urban Best Practices Area are in the Puxi section. Most of these pavilions offer their Expo stamps on the Expo "passport." A few pavilions are willing to stamp the free Expo maps or your own notebooks.

Fast pass tickets are available at some cases in UBPA. If you collect enough Expo stamps from UBPA cases, you are granted fast pass into some of the most crowded national pavilions.

The most crowded pavilions are certainly popular, but many of the less crowded are equally interesting - if not more so.

Tip 1: Be flexible. Change your schedule according to the queue situation and how long you are prepared to wait.

Tip 2: Visit the most crowded pavilions in the evenings when queues are much shorter and it's cooler. For example, it usually takes more than three hours during the day to get into the France Pavilion, but only 30 minutes after 7pm.


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