Cool comfort at city water parks
Under the scorching sun, children and adults cling to inner tubes and go around and around in a flowing pool of water. No matter how many times they go around, they never seem to tire of the circular motion. Nearby, the Han River and the dome of the Olympic Stadium provide a picturesque backdrop as sounds of laughter erupt above the splish-splash of water lapping at feet.
The pools here come in all different shapes. A large pool for adults looks like a shellfish and a smaller pool for children is triangular. A cauldron hanging above sends a rush of water into the pools below.
The outdoor water park near Ttukseom Resort Station in northeastern Seoul reopened on Saturday, after an extensive renovation, with great fanfare. It has been jam-packed ever since. There were 5,000 visitors on opening day alone and 8,100 the next.
The same day, another renovated water park had its grand reopening on Yeouido, near the Full Gospel Church. The scene there was similar to the one in Ttukseom, with 3,600 people flocking to the park on opening day and 5,100 people the day after.
The opening of the two water parks is part of the ongoing Han River Renaissance Project. The project, which is scheduled for completion by 2030, aims to revive the natural ecology of the river and encourage use of the riverside parks, according to the planners.
There are now six water parks on the banks of the Han River in Seoul: Gwangnaru, Jamsil, Jamwon, Mangwon, Ttukseom and Yeouido.
With the summer heat setting in, these riverside water parks have become major attractions for city dwellers looking for a respite from apartment living and the sticky weather.
Despite the upgrade in the facilities, visitors still pay last year’s prices: 5,000 won ($4) for adults, 4,000 won for adolescents and 3,000 for children.
They’ve kept the admission fee the same as it was 10 years ago, “so more people can come and enjoy [the parks],” says Lee Joon, senior director of the Tourism Business Team at the Seoul Tourism Organization, which operates the two water parks.
When compared to the amount charged by privately operated water parks such as Caribbean Bay in Yongin, Gyeonggi, where admission is 50,000 won, the price seems reasonable, although the privately owned parks often offer more recreational facilities.
Lee boasts that the water parks in Ttukseom and Yeouido are on par with other privately-owned water parks in the country.
Ttukseom park has pools for children of all ages. There is also a large pool for adults that ranges in depth from 0.6 meters (two feet) in the shallow end to 1.2 meters in the deep end.
But the biggest attraction here is the 250-meter-long river of water snaking around an island with big orange water slides.
“It is nice to come here [to Ttukseom] with my family, especially with small children, because most other water parks are for adolescents and young adults,” says a woman who identified herself as “Jeong-hyeon’s mom” from Nowon District, northern Seoul. “There are different pools with varying depth, which is good for younger children,” she says. She also had high praise for the low cost of admission.
If the water park in Ttukseom is for children and families, the one on Yeouido is for young people and adults. There are plenty of lounge chairs for sunbathing that also provide the perfect vantage point for people watching.
But children are welcome there, too. One of the main attractions for kids is the water playground, which is a water fountain and playground all in one. There, children can shoot water canons at each other and go through a bright orange coil that rains water down onto anyone who ventures inside.
The park has a circular pool for babies, a clam-shaped pool for children and a large square-shaped pool for adolescents and adults that is one to 1.2 meters deep and large enough for swimming.
“Water parks are much better than they used to be,” says Lee Se-jun, a middle school student from Guro District. “It is spacious and it’s much more fun than going to an indoor pool.”
The hours at both parks are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., but when the temperature rises above 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) at night, the closing time is extended to 10 p.m.
Admission at the parks ranges from 3,000 won to 5,000 won for children and adults. Payments inside the water park for food, lockers and slides (500 won per trip) can be made by electronic bracelet. Tanning beds can be rented for 5,000 won and parasols are free.
Although there are concession stands inside the parks, the selection is limited, so it’s best to bring your own food if you’re planning a day-long outing.
For Ttukseom park, go to Ttukseom Resort Station, line No. 7, exit 2. For Yeouido park, go to Yeouinaru Station, line No. 5, exit 2, and transfer to bus No. 5615, 5618, 5713 or 6633 and get off in front of the Full Gospel Church.
Parking for Ttukseom is available on the riverside for 3,000 won per day. Parking for Yeouido costs 15,000 won for the lot across from the church and 7,500 won for the National Assembly lot.
For more information, call (02) 452-5955 for Ttukseom and (02) 785-0478 for Yeouido or go to www.supiapark.com.
By Limb Jae-un
South of the river shout out
There are some pretty snazzy facilities south of the river, including a new water park near the Yangjae Citizens’ Forest in the Seocho District. The park has a large pool for adults and a smaller one for children. There are changing rooms and showers on the premises.
Admission is 3,000 won to 5,000 won ($2.43 to $4.05). The hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Go to Yangjae Station, line No. 3, exit 7, and take any bus to Yangjae Citizens’ Forest. Public parking is available near the forest at 3,000 won per day. Call (02) 2155-8248.
If you’re not interested in a swim, but are just looking for a place to dip your feet, there are two public wading pools near the Yangjae Stream in the Gangnam District, southern Seoul. One is in Daechi-dong and the other is in Gaepo-dong near the Tower Palace apartments. There is a third wading pool near the Seongnae Stream in the Songpa District, southeastern Seoul, near Ogeum Middle School.
Wading pools are free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
A few blasts from a water cannon help these kids cool down at the water park on Yeouido. The park also has water slides and several pools. By Oh Sang-min
Top: People lounge poolside and swim the streams at the water park in Ttukseom. [YONHAP]
Above: Children enjoy the jets at the water park on Yeouido. By Oh Sang-min