Entertaining on a grand scale
South Korea’s Everland theme park and resort has developed into one of the world’s leading theme park destinations, as Andrew Mellor discovers.
Perhaps one of the best known Asian theme parks is South Korea’s Everland, situated in Yongin-Si, Gyeonggi-do.
Having begun life as Yongin Farmland, opening for business on April 17, 1976, the park was the country’s first national theme park and sits on an overall site of approximately 2.2 million sq m, taking up just under half of this space. Its name change came in 1996 and today the Everland resort entertains over 10 million guests annually in its various themed and other areas, which include the Everland theme park, the Caribbean Bay waterpark, Everland Speedway, the Hoam Museum (a traditional Korean museum), a golf course and accommodation facilities.
Everland is a division of Samsung Everland, Inc., a subsidiary company of the Samsung Group, with Samsung Everland consisting of four business divisions – resort, E & A, golf and food culture. The park is open all year round and employs a full time staff of approximately 800 with another 1,000 part time staff coming on board during the summer period.
According to Juan Kim, senior manager/park planning team, Everland is a family oriented park in the main, but also focuses on the 13 to 25 year old age group, as is reflected in the mix of attractions on offer and the park’s marketing strategy. The average length of stay is four and a half to five hours.
Like any major theme park venue, this element of Everland is a mix of thrill, family and children’s rides, along with a host of other attractions and facilities, including a safari bus tour, live entertainment, numerous catering outlets and a range of retail opportunities.
The park is made up of five individual areas, namely Global Fair, American Adventure, European Adventure, Magic Land and Zootopia. Global Fair features oriental and western style architecture, restaurants and gift shops, while American Adventure provides cultural experiences reflecting the pioneer period of the US as well as the 50s and 60s period. European Adventure recreates the flowers and gardens of Europe and the culture of the Alps and surrounding countries, while Magic Land is themed on magic, fantasy and fairy tales and is aimed, not surprisingly, at families with younger children. The fifth area, Zootopia, is home to 100 different species and over 1,000 animals in the Animal Zone.
Looking at the larger attractions, examples of these include the T Express wooden roller coaster, the most recent major ride development in the park which was supplied by the Swiss company Intamin and opened in 2008. Aesop’s Village, a large themed children’s area, opened in 2005, having been built by a local contractor, while the Double Rock Spin, a Huss Top Spin, opened in 2004. Another Huss ride, the Columbus Adventure swing ride, opened in 1998, while the Eagle’s Fortress, a suspended coaster from US company Arrow Dynamics, made its debut in 1993.
A variety of live entertainment is also provided, with the Magic Parade, Night Parade, a musical and a multi-media show all catering for this element, while the most popular attractions at Everland, according to Juan Kim, are the Safari bus tour, on which guests can view free roaming lions, tigers and bears, and the Amazon Express water ride, supplied by German manufacturer Schwarzkopf back in 1994.
A total of 23 restaurants are to be found around the park, the Holland Village being the most popular street café style outlet, while accommodation is also offered in the shape of youth hostel style facilities with a capacity of 200 visitors. This opened in 1996.
Special events are another part of the overall offering at Everland, with a variety of concerts taking place, suitable for a range of musical tastes, along with a series of “festivals.”
“Our main events are festivals,” explains Juan Kim, “which are the Snow Festival, Flower Carnival, Summer Splash, Happy Halloween and Christmas Fantasy.”
Among the most recent developments at Everland have been the White Tiger Safari and the Dream of Laciun multi-media show.
Clearly a major part of the resort is the country’s first waterpark, Caribbean Bay, themed on the Caribbean Sea in the 17th century with a Spanish colonial style. Covering an area of 119,900 sq m and featuring an indoor aquatic centre of 18,182 sq m, this section of the resort can accommodate up to 14,000 visitors at any one time, including 2,500 indoors, and has a maximum daily capacity of 22,000, including 3,500 indoors.
Operating the Bay Coin payment system to alleviate the need for guests to carry cash, the indoor and outdoor sections of Caribbean Bay are connected by a 550m flowing pool, while other facilities include nine restaurants, three of which are inside, and three shops. Attractions include a Water Bobsleigh, tube slide, body slide, activity pools both indoors and outdoors, wave pool, standard pools, adventure pools and children’s pools. A beach volleyball area and saunas, jacuzzis and a suntan room are also available.
Away from the theme park and waterpark areas, as already mentioned, Everland also features the Hoam Museum, the first national private art museum which opened in 1982. This accommodates over 15,000 pieces of historic relics and art collections and 91 pieces of Korean cultural treasures, along with oriental and western works of art and a traditional Korean garden, Heewon, displaying stone works such as stone monuments and Buddhist sculptures.
The Samsung Traffic Museum is yet another attraction within the resort, and features approximately 40 cars, while the museum also houses a traffic safety education centre where children can learn about road safety.
The main accommodation offering at Everland is provided at the Home Bridge area, a 10 minute walk from the Everland park, where the Hillside Hostel and the Cabin Hostel are to be found. A total of 700 guests can be accommodated in these facilities. Golfing facilities and the first national race track are also features of the resort, as is the Activa park featuring the Pyeong Playground and a banqueting hall.
Everland as a whole clearly has much to offer its millions of annual visitors and it is no surprise that it is among the top five most visited theme park resorts in the world. For the future, “we just try to develop our resort as more family and nature oriented sites” says Juan Kim, which will, no doubt, ensure continued high visitor numbers and success.
‘At a glance’
Opened in 1976 as Yongin Farmland
A division of Samsung Everland, Inc., a subsidiary of the Samsung Group
Over 10 million visitors annually
Resort features theme park, waterpark, museums, gardens, golf course, race track and accommodation
5 themed areas within the theme park
Major attractions include – T Express wooden roller coaster, Aesop’s Village, Double Rock Spin, Columbus Adventure, Eagle’s Fortress suspended coaster
Safari Bus tour and Amazon Express water ride most popular attractions