Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Everland Resort, Korea: Childlike Ambitions

Everland Resort, Yongin City, South Korea.

It's easy to forget what exactly being a child feels like. I remember playing with toys that cost around 4 cents for upwards of 5 hours. It is that absolute carelessness and willingness to get lost in a moment that Everland appeals to. The geographical location of the park states Yongin City, but Samsung Group went through painstaking efforts to make it feel like Disney World. All week I seemed to have a certain schoolgirl giddiness about me while looking forward to Everland. I know now the rest of Korea had their eye on the same prize because parts of this day redefined the word "busy". I informed my students at school that I would be going to Everland, and their expression alone was enough to make the night before going to Everland a sort of quasi Christmas Eve. They blurted out recommendations with a fierce intensity and general disregard for English grammar. They were especially excited when I told them that I would be accompanied by "Briana teacher, Thomas teacher, and Jeanne teacher". I should note that I debated capitalizing the word "teacher" in the previous sentence because in many ways "teacher" has become a pseudo last name for teachers at our academy. Everland, like Disney World, is a great experience for an individual of any age. To be honest, I'm already excited for when I get to use the guise of being a father to enjoy Disney World once again (Family: kindly note this won't be for an extended period of time). Although, I have a feeling that Disney World isn't quite so magical when you are paying for everything yourself. However, I felt that Everland maintained its magic even while I was paying for everything because Korea doesn't feel the need to gouge your wallet simply because they can (please see Toronto sporting events for the aforementioned gouging). I'll try to keep this post short and sweet like Korean short ribs.

We got up bright and early to get to the theme park when it opened. We left our apartment around 8:30 am and I can't imagine we arrived at the park much later than the Korean toddlers. Upon entering the park, soft Korean fantasy music seeped into your eardrums. Harps beckoned you to spend money, and flutes did their best to convince you that you had entered another world with an imaginary currency. We ran like children at recess to the famed T-Express. At first, it was only famed because of the folklore the students created around the school. However, after looking into it a little more, the T-Express is indeed one famous roller coaster.
The T-Express is Korea's first wooden coaster, and the world's steepest wooden coaster. This fact certainly translated into the ride. The initial drop, which sets the record, leaves you in an absolute free-fall. I haven't yet participated in sky diving, but I can imagine this massive coaster would count as training for it. It is also the eighth fastest, third tallest, and seventh longest wooden roller coaster on the planet. Who said that a theme park couldn't also count as a little historic tourism? The childish running I mentioned in the previous paragraph was to get to this behemoth before everyone else did. We waited only 40 minutes to get on(note: that is short in Korea), but the wait time for the rest of the day was well over 80 minutes. If you're a statistical junky then you may enjoy this:

Characteristics & Records of T Express (2008)



  • South Korea's first wooden roller coaster

  • World's steepest wooden roller coaster (77 degrees)

  • Drop : 57m (7th in the world)

  • Attraction time : 3min 00sec (the longest in Asia, 7th in the world)

  • Air time : 12 times (the most air times in South Korea)

  • Altitude : 56m (the highest in Asia, 3rd in the world)

  • Maximum Speed : 104km/h (the fastest in Asia, 8th in the world)
After being inflated with adrenaline we headed over to the "Zootopia" area which was headlined by the attraction called "amazon ride". The ride itself was underwhelming and featured an array of borderline racist depictions of Indians shooting darts at the raft. In many ways it was humorous as there was clearly no malicious intent. I always get a certain kick out of discerning what would absolutely not be allowed in Canada that exists elsewhere. The aboriginals in Canada would have an absolute field day protesting this ride. I should also mention the five things that Everland wanted to bring to your attention before going on the ride. Well, actually I will just share two of them. Number two instructed the rider not to "put up an umbrella while riding." In my wildest and most bizarre dreams I would never have conceived of doing such a thing. Also, despite being a water ride, number 5 notes, "Be careful, shoes or clothes can get wet." It occurred to me that perhaps the point of a ride like this in Canada would be to get wet. But hey, I'm in Korea and enjoying it thoroughly. I'm not here to ridicule their culture, but only to observe and immerse myself within it.

It was a beautiful and sunny day, so we decided to stop for a beer. The beer was served in a classy pint glass in the "European Adventure" portion of the park. If you look closely at the picture above you can see the words "Everland" engraved into the bottom. I really should have made some attempt to take one of those home with me. I was able to snag a beer stein from Hofbrauhaus in Munich, but I feel as if it is not something you should be doing in Korea. I probably should have just attempted to buy one, as I'm sure it would have been reasonably priced. We wandered over from the German portion of "European adventure" to the Dutch portion. A wide array of flowers and a windmill welcomed us in. They did an excellent job recreating the feel of a European market. Thomas, Bri, Jeanne, and I had an excellent spot on a patio and watched the day go floating by. Of course we had a schedule though, so we headed off shortly after our visit to "European Adventure" to "American Adventure".

"American Adventure" had a suave sort of 1950's American music feel to it, but it also had some fantastic rides. We rode on all of the thrilling rides in this sector, then quickly departed when the repetitive music from the ride "Let's Twist" threatened to give us an incurable headache. It's important to mention how much effort they put into capturing the feel of each distinct sector. The layout of "American Adventure" was a large functioning street complete with streetlights, signs, and diners. The rides even carefully maintained and preserved a certain atmosphere. The picture to the left should persuade you of such a phenomenon. This ride was hinged between a giant guitar on the right, and an enormous piano on the left. The attention to detail gave Everland a certain fantastical consistency throughout the day.

The last portion of the day I wanted to mention was our ride on "safari world". You hop on a bus and go to observe a variety of different exotic animals. I'm always a little opposed to these types of rides on principal because of the treatment of the animals, but it appears as if they are treated decently here. It was a really interesting ride though. We saw lions, tigers, ligers, elephants, giraffes, and zebras. However, my personal favourite part of the ride was with the bears. The bears would walk on two legs up to the bus driver for food. The driver would throw what looked like cheetos into the bears mouth as he walked along side of the bus. I believe now that a bear looks even more intimidating standing up then on all fours, but also more adorable somehow.

Day had unfortunately turned to night so we headed off to the "Horror Village". It was really only a converted portion of "European Adventure," but they certainly went all out. Children were terrified by the hired actors who gave them stern and frightful looks with seemingly no mercy being shown for their age. The night wore on, but the fun never wore off. We ended our day at Everland by once again riding the famed T-Express. My students were astounded to find out that I'd managed to ride the T-Express twice in one day. We waited for the crowd to flee to the fireworks and got in line for T-Express. We happily watched the fireworks erupt from the safety of the T-Express line. In almost pitch black conditions we tore through the air for three minutes of sheer exhilaration. Sometimes, I've decided, it's just fine to indulge and embrace your childish ambitions.


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