Friday, June 15, 2007

Happy Valley

Happy Valley Amusement Park in situated about 10-15 minutes taxi ride from Jianguomenwai Road. It is an amusement park styled after Disney and Universal Studios theme parks. It is quite sizeable, hosting themed locations such as the Lost Maya(n) Empire, Atlantis, Ant Kingdom and the obligatory features such as roller coasters (I counted three of them, each with varying degrees of challenge), Vertical Elevator, 4-D Theatre, Game Stalls, and what looked like an Indiana Jones themed location showing the adventures associated with treasure seeking. Of course souvenir shops dotted the whole park for visitors to take home a little of the memories through its merchandise.

We arrived at about 11.15am by taxi, which charged us RMB80 - not by meter although it was a taxi. But the cabbie was willing to fit 5 of us in his cab, so we wouldn't run the risk of getting separated and lost. We learnt much later from Alex Wu, the Chief Concierge at Paragon Hotel, that in Beijing, only taxis with a car plate number starting with 'B' is legally licensed. All others are illegal and if the operator/driver of these 'taxis' are caught, as was the driver that drove us back from Happy Valley to Paragon Hotel was, he faces a potential fine of thousands of dollars.

Anyway, back to the theme park. We could tell that the kids loved the place, particularly a multi-layered enclosure much like the kids' player area you'd find in Downtown East. The enclosure is wrapped round with mesh ropes to prevent the small cushion balls from getting out of the enclosure. What were the cushion balls for? To throw at each other, of course. There were several ball cannons for greater effect. Not only kids were having fun here, but young adults as well!

The park is pretty big, so we paid RMB20 for a maximum of three rides on the electric buggies. The first ride, we took through the whole park with the driver giving us an overview. Its probably what every new visitor to this park should do. We were almost drenched at Atlantis. One of the attractions here is a boat that would slide down from atop a hill and make a big splash when it reaches the bottom. But people were deliberately standing around to get drenched. Such was the huge splash it created every time the boat dived into the water.

Towards the end of the day, at about 6pm, we attended a show which is located at the entrance of the park. This show had athletic kids do slam-dunks over various obstacles, caucasians doing a Chinese dance, and acrobatic displays by on bicycles and skates. Very entertaining indeed. That was a good way to wrap up the day at this theme park.

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