Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Lotte World

Well, of course I could not spend my whole holiday in Seoul engaged in matters of exchanging clothing items for cash now could I? So, I switched gears and decided to indulge myself in a little bit of R&R by the means of an amusement park, aka the biggest indoors amusement park in Asia, aka Lotte World.

 P1110100Now, the place is fun and all but it is no Disneyland so let me get that out of the way before diving in a bit. Not that you don't get that  impression as soon as you get off the train. The station which is connected to Lotte World has no signs as to how one might manage to get to the park. Contrast that with Disneyland directions all the way in Tokyo Station which is more than 30 minutes away by train and you can get a good idea about the difference in approaches. Even when one is literally 2 minutes walking distance in the underground maze of stores leading to the park one does not see directions to the park. I guess they may prefer having some sort of elimination mechanism to weed out the guests who are not resilient enough to get through the maze...

P1110103 OK, I guess that was a bit more than I thought I would mention about, you know, just getting there but I think it was relevant. The place itself is nice with many rides but since the place is covered, even though it is the largest covered theme park, is small compared to the usual fare of theme parks which tend to be huge outdoorsy deals. There are a couple of roller coasters, a stage where they do live shows (which I found pretty strange since the dancing people seemed like with their costumes they would feel much more at home at Las Vegas than at a place like this filled with little kids), bunch of restaurants including a Turkish one , an ice skating rink, and a lot of other relatively small rides.

P1110118 Connected to the "Lotte World - Great Adventure" is the "Folk Museum". This is basically a national history museum for Korea. It starts talking about Korea and cavemen if you can believe it and goes all the way up to the Japanese occupation. It is a pretty interesting place and I think it is a great idea - you take the kids to the amusement park and they also get to visit a museum. Not a bad way to squeeze some education into the  amusement park visit. My favorite here was hands down the miniature cities complete with miniature soldiers, townspeople, and all.

P1110130 The park is also connected to another, more traditional, outside park. In the temperature-wise challenged months of winter this park is still open but it is completely painful to walk around in. There is a castle here which seems so.... Disney... In fact they use the silhouette of the same castle as the logo for Lotte World and I half expected Tinkerbell to come out with her wand. I felt pretty bad for food vendors in this park who had to stick around and work in the cold. There was even a yakitori vendor which I thought was pretty cool.

If you are in Seoul, by all means, go and pay this place a visit. It is not so expensive and you can get a day-pass for less than $30 which lets you visit all three big attractions - two parks and the museum - I mentioned. Now, I doubt you would want to visit the place twice but it is definitely worth it to see it once.

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