Apr. 23rd, 2017 02:03 pm
[personal profile] niori_1709
If you ask your average Korean child where they would love to go on any given weekend, there's about a 90% change you're going to get roughly the same answer. It's also one that's not going to lose its appeal, no matter how many times you ask. It's a place that all the kids love for a reason, one that would be appealing to kids all over the world. Theme parks are a popular thing throughout the globe, and why would Korea be any exception? Here, the be all end all of Korean theme parks, is Everland.

Everland is basically Korea's answer to Disneyland/world, though on a much (much) smaller scale and without the international fame. That's not to dismiss it, because it is a pretty popular (16th in the world for around of people who went in 2014, and that's not a number to laugh at, given the amount of theme parks in the world). It's also Korea's largest theme park, and was the first family amusement park to ever open in Korea, back in 1979. It's only grown since then. It's not just a theme park anymore, but it's also home to a small zoo and huge water park (the later, Caribbean Bay, I've never gotten to yet. I have, however, heard it's awesome). If you look out, you also might get lucky and find a time when they're offering foreigner discounts, just like I did. During one of the holiday long weekends, I was able to get in half price, just because I had a coupon. So if you're planning on tackling Everland (and the subway even goes there now -I had to take a long bus ride from Seoul-, making it even easier), I recommend looking at their site and seeing if you can get yourself a deal.

The main theme park is divided into five separate areas. The first is the Global Square, and it's around the entrance. There's no rides here, it's more of a stroll around and eat/buy stuff. Just like the name suggests, it's a global theme. The buildings are designed like castles from around the world. Some are designed like European castles from France and Spain. There's replicas from Russia, looking as bright and colourful as the Church of the Saviour on Blood in St. Petersburg. There are Middle Eastern countries and even India. It's very interesting to see all the different styles in one place. It serious makes one want to run to an airport and take off to travel the world. It also is a great way to start the park.

The second area, at least on the path that I took, was the American Adventure. That's where the rides start. There are some real clich├ęd American themes going on here, but it's super fun as well. There's the Wild West represented, with rides like the rodeo themed ride where you sit in a booth and spin around and around. I wouldn't recommend it on a full stomach, but it was lots of fun. There's the traditional Viking ship, except refurbished as an explorer's ship. The second major theme is 1950s Rock & Roll. The aesthetic is as fun as you'd expect, with bright colours and blinking neon. It feels like you stepped into Grease when you look at them. There's a roller coaster in this section, along with a few other rides, including one that spins around like a ferries wheel (and there's one of those too), except it turns you up and down as well. Also not one to get on when you're full or get motion sick easily.

So far I'm making it sound like Everland is all thrills and chills. Don't get me wrong- there are a ton of rides for those who like adventure and a little excitement (more on that coming up soon). Those of you who aren't all that fond of thrill rides, or those who have children not old enough to go on those rides, are probably beginning to think Everland might not be for you. Hold on before you pass judgement, because the next section is more gentle, and totally has kids in mind. This is the third section of the park, called Magic Land. This, to my everlasting delight, is designed with Aseop's Fables as the core component. So we got an area decorated with fairy tale like buildings, colourful and a little wacky. It was a bit Alice in Wonderland in building design, with a pretty fountain featuring cartoony frogs as centre pieces. There were statues from the fables everywhere, from the tortoise beating the hare, a mouse helping a lion out of a net, and even an ant and a grasshopper arguing about the best way to save food for winter. They're fun, something straight out of the pages of the stories themselves. If someone ever decided to make a cartoon, I'd recommend the designs on the statues. The kids around me loved them. Here there's also a pretty cool ride, much like Disney's It's a Small World ride. It's called the Jigu Maul, and it was the first underground boat ride in Korea. It features dolls from around the world, showing scenes and ideas from different countries. The dolls are animatronics, which allows them to give you a bit of a sense of a living scene. There are flamenco dancers from Spain, football players from America, a traditional fan dance from Korea, dancing around tulips and windmills from the Netherlands, and even scenes featuring the Maasai, the ethnic group of people in Kenya. Sadly, there's no Canadians playing hockey (or maybe eating maple syrup, I can't decide which is better). Just like the Global Village entrance, this is a great look at around the world. It's also a good way to make you want to book the next plane to some far away place, though that one is a it harder to accomplish, even for someone already living halfway across the world.

With European Adventure, we continue the trend of basing the design on the architecture of other countries. In this case, it's based on Holland. I've never been to Holland, but I can tell you they managed to make it look like any pictures I've seen. You feel like you're walking down a small street, with shops of all kinds on either side. There's rides here as well, including Korea's first wooden roller coaster, which also doubles as the world's steepest wooden roller coaster. Admittedly, I didn't get on this ride. The line was just way too long, and it was getting fairly late in the day. It looked awesome, and if the screaming was any indication, exciting and heart racing as well. I honestly wasn't too put out -I'm more of a ride the big rides to prove you're not scared kind of woman- but I actually wish I had gotten on this one, if only to experience the thing most of my older students exclaim to be their favourite part. I did get into one thrill ride while there. It's a ride that it meant to simulate being in a room that's literally turned upside down. You get strapped into a row of seats in a room designed to look like a wizard's study, complete with creepy talking gargoyle. All of the sudden, you're being jerked around and risen up, the seats doing a 180 and then 360 degree turn around. The furniture for the room (on the sides, and clearly well attached) flips around, and the effects of the room change, making it look like you've now found yourself trapped on the ceiling. The lights are blinking and the gargoyle is laughing like a little demon, and you just keep moving. It honestly feels like you're actually spinning around and around, going from the floor to the ceiling and back. It was dizzying and head spinning, but a lot of fun. The effects were perfect and it was a pretty thrilling ride, though not as crazy as a roller coaster.

One more thing in European Adventure, and that's the Horror Village. It's exactly as it sounds. It's where you find the haunted houses. There are two, and you have to be eighteen to even go in. No kids allowed, and I know exactly why. As said, there are two haunted houses...and I only went in one. Not because it was boring or a waste of time, but because it was honestly terrifying. I love horror movies and basically anything scary, and I can take it with the best of them. I might get a little spooked or jumpy, but I rarely get really scared, even in haunted houses. This time however...I don't remember being that scared in a long time. It starts from when they make you wait in a dark hallway in groups of about five with only a red light to take with you. You have to hold onto the shoulders of the person in front of you so you don't get lost, and there's the creepy women dressed as ghosts (hair hanging over face, white dress...you know the type) just floating along and staring at you. It sets the scene, and then you go in. It's set up like some sort of torture house, with the creepy ghosts trapped inside after being killed by some sort of mad scientist. You don't need to know the story, because the design and rooms make it so obviously. There are flashing lights and the sounds of screams and moans. There are footsteps coming towards you and people sliding out of shadows (and they'll touch you here, though only lightly, so be prepared for that). More ghosts and other people, half looking like zombies or the dead who died really terrible deaths. All of that was terrifying, but it wasn't the worst (best). There's one room, meant to represent something like a meat house, where the meat is hung from the ceiling. There's no path, and the things hanging down (I think they were actually punching bags in real life) are so close together that you have to touch them. You keep walking through them, them closing in on all side as you have to follow the people in front of you through it while they stumble along attempting to find their way out of this dark, silent part of the house. This is literally the first time I've ever wanted to get out of a haunted house early. I almost told one of the workers to take me out, but I managed to make it through. Barely, I might add. After I got out into the beautiful sun, there was no way I was going back into the second haunted house. Never again.

Speaking of haunted houses, that leads me into the best part of the whole day. I'm now going to let you in on my absolutely favourite aspect of Everland. Remember when I made an entry about Lotte World? How I mentioned that there was an overall theme going on, and it was Carnival when I was there? It's the same at Everland, though the theme was very different. It wasn't Carnival, but one of my absolutely favourite things in the world...it was Halloween. I went in September, so they were all decked out for Halloween in a way that the rest of Korea doesn't begin to follow. There are decorations everywhere, built right into the structure of the park. They are huge, giant jack-o-lanterns sitting on flower beds, graveyards popping up everywhere. Some of the decorations were cutesy, others creepy, and some downright scary. It was strange as well, since all of these creepy decorations were right in these bright, colourful flowers. My favourite decoration was a massive tree close to the entrance of the park. There are eye balls hanging down, eyes in the branches (making it look like something is peeking out at you). It's interesting in the day, but it's even better at night. The eyes glow, adding to the creep factor. It's not only the decorations that make it Halloween at Everland. The workers are all dressed up in scary costumes, and they are freaky when they're acting like their character. The shops are selling Halloween sort-of costumes, mostly vampire capes and witch hats. There's a Halloween themed show in the middle of a square, complete with moving floats and an elaborate backstory that I couldn't understand but guessed it was about the good characters banishing the evil devil-witch character. There's lots of singing and dancing, things I will never stop loving. They always make everything that much better. I love Halloween. I cannot emphasize that enough. Getting to experience Halloween at Everland was spectacular, and the cherry on the metaphorical pie.

Last, but not least, we come to the last part of Everland proper. That area is Zoo-Topia. As the name implies, it's the zoo area of the park. There are a few ways to see the animals in this section of the park. There's the usual petting zoo and pony rides for the kids. There's a safari ride, where you ride in a caged bus and drive through an area with big cats (lions and tigers) and bears (oh my). It was pretty cool to see them, since it's not often you get to see them that close, even if a bus separates you. There's also a normal zoo, called The Lost Valley, featuring some marine oriented animals (polar bears, penguins) and the usual fare (primates, for example), though I was unable to get in. It was closed by the time I actually managed to make it to this end of the park (it's on the other end of where I started). I hear it's pretty good, but I've been to enough zoos (including the huge Seoul Zoo) to be okay with that. There's a small zoo area, where the smaller animals like rodents are in a small area. The last part of the area is a ride called The Amazon Express. It's a water tube ride. You sit in a massive raft that then goes down the pseudo Amazon River. There are statues of the various wildlife along the banks, and you rush past them, getting soaked in the rapids and spinning around and around. It's not the most exciting ride in the park, but it was a pretty fun one, especially if you like water rides. Be warned, you're going to get wet.

The Amazon Express was actually the last ride I got on before I managed to pull my tired self out of the park and back to the bus stop. It was actually really close to closing time when I left. I had spent the whole day at Everland. I was tired, a bit sore from being on my feet for so long, and beyond the point of excitement for the day. I had been to Korea's favourite theme park, had some stories to share with my students, and got to play around like I hadn't in a long time. Plus I got an early taste of Halloween, including the scare of a lifetime. All and all, not a bad day for a September holiday.



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