[personal profile] niori_1709
When it comes to straight up theme parks, Korea isn't exactly bursting with options. While there are a handful of fairly big ones, none quite reach what we in North America would consider a top of the line, Canada's Wonderland-like, place. That said, the country does have quite a few excellent ones, three large ones in particular. The one I'm going to talk about today (and the one I went to first) is Lotte World. Now, when I say that the amusement parks here don't feel very big, I don't necessarily area wise.

Lotte World, far all that it feels like a Crystal Palace on steroids, is actually the world's largest indoor amusement park. Not only is it a multi-floor indoor theme park, but also an outside area, built on an artificial island in the middle of a lake. On top of that, it's located right in the heart of Seoul, which makes it easy to get to (it's right on a subway stop) and also incredibly busy.

I'll admit that I'm not really much of an amusement park person (theme parks -a la Disney- are a different story), but it was a rainy day and my friend had two free tickets. It wasn't a wasted trip, and I had a blast.

Since it was pouring rain, my friend and I were mostly limited to the indoor section of the park. The inside of the park is designed with a very quaint, old European feel. The buildings are light pastel colours, built to look like they belong in a quaint little fairy tale (complete with a small castle, a windmill and a traditional, with white, pretty horses carousel ). There's an adorable hot air balloon ride (the basket and top is made to look like a hot air balloon, and you ride it on a track above the whole indoor part of the park). Being more than a little scared of heights kept me off that one, but it's perfect for anyone who likes having a bird's eye view.

There's also a great mix of rides there, one for everyone. There are the thrill rides, adventure rides and kid friendly rides in the indoor area of the park. I myself am more partial to adventure rides (I'll do thrill rides, but they're not my cup of tea), and there were a number of them to amuse and entertain me.

The first of those rides was the Jungle Adventure. This is one of the three water rides that snake through the park (again proving how psychically large Lotte World is). As the name implies, it's jungle themed. The water is a raging river through a dense jungle, one that you ride down in a giant, round inflatable raft. You spin, bump into things and get soaked by splashing water. I'll admit that the effects and decorations are incredibly cheesy (an ongoing theme), but it was still a lot of fun.

The second water ride I went on was called The Adventure of Sindbad. It was much like Jungle Adventure in terms of set up (you float down an underground river, albeit in a boat this time), but it follows an entirely different theme. The ride takes you through Sindbad's (the mythical hero from the Middle East who was basically the Arab version of Odysseus, in that he sails the seven seas fighting monsters, going to magical places and being all heroic. If you haven't heard these tales, I highly recommend going and reading them. They're quite fun). This ride tells one of those stories- one where Sindbad has to save his fair damsel (cliché, I know) from the evil magician who kidnapped her. All the dialogue (on TV screens and blasted over loud speakers) is in Korean, but you don't need to know what's being said in order to understand what's happening (one of the blessings of overacting). The scenes set themselves up quite well, and you follow Sindbad's journey through dangerous, magical caverns as he faces off with his enemy in the magician's evil palace. The scenes are full of goofiness and good effects (including ones that surprised you and made you jump, myself included), and pretty good animatronics. If you have to pick between this one and the Jungle Adventure, go with this one. The story aspect makes it more entertaining, at least in my storyteller opinion.

There were other adventure rides, but we weren't able to go on because of long lines. The two big ones were the log fume (dinosaur themed, which still makes me sad I didn't get to go on) and Pharaoh's Fury, where an automatic jeep ride takes you into the heard of a cursed Egyptian tomb to find the pharaoh's great treasure (another ride I was sad not to go on, being a history geek and all).

A word on the rides and those long lines. A number of the bigger rides off fast pass tickets. There's a ticket machine just outside the entrance. You pull one of those tickets and it gives you a time. That is the time (ours was roughly an hour or so later) when you're guaranteed a spot on the ride. They're incredibly handy, because it means you're getting on the rides you want, but you're also free to do something else as you wait, instead of just standing in line. I highly recommend using the Magic Pass. It will seriously let you see more of the park than if you just decide to wait the old fashioned way.

Now, I know what a lot of people go to amusement parks for. Most people go for the thrill rides. You'll be happy to know that there are plenty of those. Most are in the outside area (I'll get to that later), but there are some inside as well. There's a swinging ship and 360 degree drop ride, but it's the French Revolution that the biggest line was for. That is Lotte World's indoor medium sized roller coaster. While the coaster may not be large, it is still exciting. The ride begins with a sheer, stomach dropping out from you, drop. It only gets more dizzying from there. There's more than one loop upside down and there is more than one time where you're completely sideways and you feel like you're legitimately going to fall off. It's probably not even a minute long, but it's a minute where I kept my eyes slammed shut and practically screamed my throat raw.

There's also more than enough child friendly things to keep any kid entertained as well. The bottom floor of the park is a complete kids' zone. There's an Alice in Wonderland themed playground, so 3D theatres -one a beluga and the other a miner ride-, some bumper cars, spinning baskets and some cute cars you can ride in a circle. There's also a stage where you can catch a puppet or magic show, if you or the children get sick of rides.
Now that I've covered all the rides the interior of Lotte World has to offer, it's time to talk about what else it has. Like any good park, it has an equally good theme. The theme changes at Lotte World, but when I went, it was Carnaval (the celebration in Rio, not the traveling fair).

There were, of course, decorations -bright, shiny and over the top-, but that not where the Carnaval theme really shone. It shone in the parade. Twice a day, there is a parade around the centre of the main floor, and that is spectacualr (I only saw Carnaval, but I'm sure the other themes are equally impressive). It starts with the blaring of music, rythmic and exciting. It makes you want to dance, to move your hips to the beat and just let loose. Then the parade itself starts, with a double decker bus -excited children below, dancers and mascots above- leading the way. Then the dancers come. It's obvious they're from all over the world, and that all of them are incredably talented. They could move in more ways and with more grace than most of us (myself included) could only ever dream of doing. They danced with the music, some of them on the floor and others on numerous floats (my favourite being the throne made of peacock feathers). Their costumes were absolutely beautiful. They were amazing colours- bright yellow, blue, pink and purple. They shone, with rhinestones covering so much of them and making them sparkle. They were adorned with giant feathers, some used to make it look like wings and others used to give the appearence of wearing a helmet or a headress. They were elobrate and beautiful. That also describes the parade in its entirety.

While I wouldn't say it makes you feel like you're in the heart of the real Carnaval, it might just be one of the places that come at least a little close while outside of Brazil. The parade isn't the only thing that stands out besides the rides. It's probably something that will have more appeal to the adults in the party (unless you have a kid who was just like me). On the upper floor of the park, there is a folk museum (yes- Korea has a museum in an amusement park. It's one of the reasons I love this country). It's a fairly large one, and some areas are quite elobrate. There are the usual (though no less exciting to see) artifacts- weapons, pottery, tools and various outfits. They're interesting, but also varations of what you've seen in any half decent museum in Korea. The best part are the minitures. Now, I know dioramas aren't everyone's thing. These, however, are detailed beyond belief, bigger than pool tables (per) and there's enough of them to fill a room that is basically the size of a gymnasium. There are so many different scenes -a royal wedding, greeting foregin dignataries, ancestor ceremonies, villagers celebrating a harvest festival...if there was an everyday/regualr event in Koran history that you can think of, it was there. It wasn't only there, but moving, lit up and in perfect detail. How amazing they are only becomes more impressive when you climb up the quite big fortess wall and see them all laid out below you. It was pretty mind blowing.

Of course, there's more to offer inside. Sores selling various souviners (mostly related to the park mascots, which are Lotty and Lorry, cartoon raccoons), resturants (a food court featuring delicious Korean food -I reccomend the dunkas- more traditional Korean resturants in the folk museum, and if you're craving some western food, a T.G.I Fridays. There's laser tag, a small haunted house and an arcade). If you want a little taste of a Canadian pasttime, the world's largest indoor ice rink is also located in Lotte World.

I've given you the run down of all that Lotte World interiour has to offer, but we're not quite done. For all that I spent very little time there, Magic Island (exteriour) still deserves a nod. Magic Island continues the European fairy tale feel. The buildings still have to old European look, and there's even a big fairy tale castle (think a smaller version of Disney World's Cinderella's Castle). It was a nice set up that contrasted nicely with the rides. This is the place where the extreme rides are, though I didn't get on any (I just ate before going out and I'm uncomfortable getting on park rides when they're wet).

There's a secondary roller coaster called Atlantis that loops around the whole area. The gyro swing, which is a monsterous cross between the merry-go-round and swining ship (you're strapped into a circle that spins while simoltaniously swings back and forth- my stomach turns just turns thinking about it), the gyro drop (guarnteed to introduce your stomach to your throat during a freefall), a bungee drop (giving you three drops, not just one a la the gyro drop) and the Comet Express (much like the swings, where your seat spins freely...prepare to be dizzy).

There's other rides of course, ones that won't make you potentially throw up. Some laid back rides (monorail around the park, a classic European car rides for kids, a swan ride tunnel of love). There's a few rides inside buildings, and since it was still drizzling, one of those is what we chose.

Fantasy Dream is definetely geared more towards kids, but the line was short (and we weren't the only adults) and it was dry. It's basically Lotte World's version of It's a Small World, complete with cheerful, moving/singing dolls and animals. It's set up along a track that you slowly ride on. You pass through different areas/rooms, each with a different theme going on. Candyland, Santa's Workshop, Magical Forest...it's got it all. There's also a section for dolls/bears of the world, where different countries are represented in rather cliche ways. America has a football game going on, Korea has the traditional wedding, amd Brazil Carnaval. It was amusing, though a little creepy. It was also a good way to kill twenty minutes or so.

Amusement parks may not be my thing in general, but Lotte World was a good time. I enjoyed going, and would go back if the oppertunity came up...but hopefully one with better weather.
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