If you were living in Shanghai last year, you may have heard of a little thing called the "Expo." It was a heady time, with blue Haibao's abounding at every metro stop, patriotic commercials on constant loop, and an oh-so blissful period of semi-clean air and zero construction. But alas, the Expo came and went in a flash, like a firework during Chinese New Year, and now we're left with… what, exactly? What has become of that 6.68 kilometre stretch of Expo desert? Well… a lot, actually.
1) Mini Expo
In order to keep that "Expo momentum" going, authorities announced earlier this year that there would be a "mini Expo" opening sometime in the near future. This toned down version will include six of the event's most popular pavilions: China, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Russia, France and Spain. No details have been provided on how much tickets will cost, or exactly when this mini Expo will open. But you can be sure that when it does, Expo advertisements and memorabilia will once again run amok.
2) Conferences, exhibitions and shopping
The main part of the Expo area, which includes the Expo Centre and Expo Theme Centre, will house large conferences and exhibitions. These buildings are perfect for such purposes and promise to further promote Shanghai's role as an international business centre. But what does Shanghai love more than even business? That's right – shopping! So it comes as no surprise that Expo Boulevard, that big-as-a-highway thoroughfare winding itself amidst the park will become a "high-end shopping street" over the next few years.
3) Museums and "public leisure activities"
Even the old Jiangnan Shipyard is getting a makeover, and will be home to various museums – bets are being taken as to how soon an Expo museum will be popping up on the city's radar. Additionally, both the Pudong and the Puxi side of the Huangpu River will be utilised for various "public leisure activities." Tours of the Expo grounds and riverbanks have already begun and judging from the crowd demographic thus far, the elderly people of Shanghai are absolutely loving it.
4) Expo Village to become an "international community"
What's to become of the infamous Expo Village, where all the foreign Expo workers were housed during the big event? According to authorities, the goal is to create an "international community" within the next five years or so. They've made quite a bit of headway already, setting up multiple Western restaurants that are already established Shanghai favourites – this includes Bubba's BBQ, Paulaner Brauhaus, Tony Roma's, The Fat Olive and The Funky Chicken. Expect this section to be the fastest growing one, as it has the potential to become the most lucrative in the shortest amount of time.
5) Mercedes-Benz Arena
And lastly, whatever became of the massive China Pavilion Expo Cultural Centre? You know, that behemoth pod in the centre of the Expo grounds? Well, that is now better known as the Mercedes-Benz Arena and it has been home to concert upon concert since the day the Expo shut down. Some of Shanghai's biggest concert draws have performed there, including The Eagles, James Blount and Usher. The Mercedes-Benz Arena has become the go-to concert venue for big name acts, so if you like music, chances are you'll be visiting it once or twice.
While the Expo grounds seemed massive when it was all dedicated to, well, the Expo, authorities have made a smart decision in breaking up the grounds into smaller subsections. With each section dedicated to something slightly different, i.e. museums, shopping, business conferences, etc., it helps incorporate the Expo area into the surrounding city more naturally. And as Pudong continues to expand, one day the area now known as "the Expo grounds" may be swallowed up as just another part of Shanghai.
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Keywords: Shanghai Expo site Shanghai Mercedes-Benz Arena Shanghai Expo site transformation Shanghai expo mini expo
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