Our second day in Seoul was dedicated to one destination only…Lotte World. Since this trip was an advanced birthday celebration for our soon to be full fledged toddler, we made Lotte World our top priority.
Seoul is the only city I’ve been to, so far, that has a theme park right in the middle. Yeah I know, Singapore has Universal, Hong Kong has Disneyland and Orlando has Disney World, but all of those theme parks are actually on some detached island or on some neighboring jurisdiction. Lotte world is the only park I know where you can see the fantasy castle along side high rise buildings, and part of it is even inside a mall.
The Lotte World theme park is accessed through the Lotte World Mall, a unique characteristic of the park. Unlike the Univerals and Disneys, this one doesn’t give you that “you’re in another world” feeling, and you’re pretty much conscious that you’re in the middle of sprawling, urban Seoul the whole time. However, this also works both ways. Half of the park is inside the mall, so you get air conditioning while doing some rides or just plain strolling.
Looking at the “mall side” half might lead you to think that Lotte World is a park for children, like a Magic Kingdom miniaturized and enclosed in a glass topped building, but wait ’til you go outside. This park has got loads in store for adrenaline junkies.
The outdoor half of the park is accessed through a pedestrian bridge from the mall side, as it sits on a separate city block, and the two are separated by a multi-lane road. From the bridge you could get a good look at the park’s castle, which is a bit too similar with Princess’ castles on Disney parks, but the “fairy tale land” stops there. This side of the park has rides that could either excite you to the max or twist your guts just by looking, depending how much you enjoy getting scared out of your wits.
There is also an overhead monorail that goes around the park, another Disney-esque concept. The monorail can be used to transfer from the mall side to the outdoor side, but you can also ride it all the way around, providing you a chance to see the whole park without wearing down the soles of your shoes. The round trip takes about 5 minutes, not bad for a park squeezed within the city.
Like most theme parks, Lotte World also has scheduled shows, as well as regular “mini-parades” throughout the day, where floats, mascots, and other fictional characters go around the mall side to dance and mingle with the crowd. Since the park’s theme while we were there was anchored on the upcoming halloween, the parades featured ghouls of various sorts, as well as the Korean contingent of the Ghost Busters.
They do also have a major “parade of lights” at the mall side every 7PM. In the absence of major fireworks, they dazzle people with floats and dancers all lit up. This parade is actually quite spectacular, and is surely worth the wait. The way they decorated the floats and the dancers could actually serve as inspiration for the organizers of the likes of the Kadayawan and the Sinulog back home in the Philippines.
Overall, Lotte World does have a character of its own. While it’s true that it employs some of the same formula used by other, more globally popular parks, in more ways than one, Lotte World combines the theme park with a town carnival feel – something you might no longer find in larger parks. And while the park itself maybe a bit smaller than most popular ones in terms of land area, it certainly doesn’t feel smaller in terms of fun. Lotte World offers genuine theme park amusement, in a compact (and more accessible) package.
More photos of Lotte World below.
* We visited Lotte World last September 2011. All photos taken with Olympus E-420 and Zuiko 14-54mm f2.8-3.5.