I got my first full walk-around of the Shanghai Expo site today, although the majority of the pavilions were closed, either for last-minute repairs after the drama of last week’s "soft opening" or because they still aren’t finished.
I think it is highly likely there will still be pavilions shut on May 1st, when the event kicks off. Apparently the current best guess is that 30% of the pavilions will not be finished in time.
From what I did get to see, including the inside of the China pavilion and one or two of the smaller pavilions, the Expo is sorely lacking in creativity and has very little humour or magic about it. The site is functional, but huge. It doesn’t have much green space, or shade.
Obviously this is just a first impression, and perhaps when the event kicks off the Expo site will come to life, but it felt very much to me like a giant corporate event today.
Which, after all, is what it is. China may be trying to publicise the Expo as a major tourism event, a six-month-long party, but actually, everything that counts in Shanghai is going to go on behind the scenes.