Indoor theme parks offer accessible thrills : Families looking for ways to have fun in the winter cold have options in the Seoul region
But just because it’s cold, children don’t need to be stuck inside. It may be too chilly for the family to pack themselves a nice lunch and go for a picnic in the park, but there are places for families to go to enjoy the day regardless of the weather.
For those with kids who’d like to spend their school holiday outside of the house, here are four places to have fun regardless of the weather.
Lotte World Undersea Kingdom is the new name of the Lotte Kids Park in Gupabal, northern Seoul, which opened on Dec. 22, 2016. The underwater-themed space, which changed its name on the first day of 2018, is an indoor theme park that provides visitors hours of fun in an undersea kingdom.
The entrance of the park welcomes guests with a giant pearl oyster fountain, and walls painted to resemble the deep blue sea. The two floors of fun begins with the coral village, a playground with all sorts of sea creatures. The section next door has small bumper cars for children in the shape of colorful fish.
The main attraction of the park is just past the fountain, where massive columns are adorned with swarms of white fish that look as if they’re moving and colorful coral reefs that make you stop and stare with awe.
Since it’s a theme park, there are rides that children can go on such as Merking’s Merry-Go-Round, the Dolphin Spin, Under Water Rock Climbing and the Bubble Bubble Swing. Other smaller rides include a slide that links the two floors and the flying whale that gives you a tour high above the park. The teamLab Studio allows kids to color on paper drawings of cars and airplanes with crayons and watch them move on screen, after the staff members scan them into a special program.
“We changed the name to Undersea Kingdom to differentiate ourselves with the kids cafes that have become common in other areas,” said Park Soung-gyung of the operations team. “We want to offer fun for the whole family, and not just children. So we have places for the parents to rest at, such as the cafe and rest areas. This is a place for the whole family.”
The park is located on the third floor of the Lotte Mall, connected to Gupabal Station, line No. 3. Tickets cost 25,000 won ($23) for children between 36 months and 12 years old, and 12,000 won for anyone over 13 years of age. It is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekends and public holidays. For more information, visit kidspark.lotteworld.com or call 1661-2000.
Onemount Snow Park
While it’s fun to sled down a snowy slope or play tag on a frozen lake, it might not be so easy to fight against the strong winds blowing in your face. Besides, it’s near impossible to find a lake frozen enough to play on in the Seoul region.
At the Onemount Snow Park in Goyang, Gyeonggi, visitors get the chance to try out their favorite winter sports without having to brave the elements. The indoor ice and snow park is kept at a minus 2 degrees Celsius year round - just enough to keep its ice and snow nicely frozen. In the main hall is a big ice rink where families can skate. Every hour, snow falls from the ceiling - an exciting spectacle for every guest.
Around the ice arena is a skating track, not only for skaters but also for a dog sleigh. Some eight dogs, professionally trained in the mountains of Gangwon, lead the sleigh into a tunnel that’s decorated with seven different themes for visitors to enjoy while on the speedy ride.
There are three sled slopes in the park, with a small one inside and two bigger slopes for older kids on the rooftop. The rooftop slope turns into a gigantic water slide in the summer, with a water pool at end of the slide. The water park is also open all year round, so you can choose between the two.
To get to Onemount Goyang, get off at Juyeop Station, line No. 3, exit 2 or 3 and walk for 15 minutes. Onemount includes a water park, snow park, shopping mall and a premium sports club. Entrance to the snow park costs 35,000 won for a whole day starting at 10 a.m., 20,000 for an afternoon ticket which can be purchased at 3 p.m., and an evening ticket from 5 p.m. at 15,000 won. The park closes at 8 p.m. For more information, visit www.onemount.co.kr or call 1566-2232.
For those who’d like something a little more adventurous and competitive, Sports Monster Goyang is the place for you. On the fourth floor of the shopping mall Starfield Goyang is every sports enthusiast’s dream come true.
Sports Monster is for children over 120 centimeters (47 inches) in height due to safety reasons. There are also limits on some of the facilities according to height, as some of the obstacles can be dangerous for smaller children.
Starting with the Basic Zone that has activities most are familiar with, the facility provides even more thrilling sports in the Exciting Zone, the Adventure Zone and the Digital Zone.
In the Basic Zone are sports commonly played in gym class, such as volleyball, basketball and baseball. Visitors can play in teams to compete with each other, or against themselves to get the best scores.
In the Exciting Zone, people can practice shooting or jump around a long path of trampolines.
The Digital Zone includes a virtual reality motorcycle-shaped ride that moves around in all directions while users lay flat.
The highlight of Sports Monster is in the Adventure Zone, where you get to test your nerves like never before. You can try walking through the six different rope courses 6.5 meters (21 feet) off the ground or ride the zip-line, where you must hold on while flying from the ceiling. If you get too tired, you can try the 8-meter long monster slide.
Starfield Goyang is a 10-minute walk from Samsong Station, line No. 3, exit 3. Admission for adults is 24,000 won for two hours and 19,000 won for children. Every 10 minutes after the two hours costs 1,000 won extra. Sports Monster Hanam is located inside the Starfield Hanam. For more information, visit www.sportsmonster.co.kr or call (031) 5173-4009.
VR Monster Town
Although it says VR (virtual reality) in its name, VR Monster Town isn’t just about putting on headgear and walking through a 3-dimensional world. The indoor theme park, which opened its doors on Jan. 26 in the Wirye New Town in southern Seoul, offers a variety of high-tech fun that cannot be found in an ordinary household.
Inside the park are four sections to choose from: the virtual reality zone, the augmented reality (AR) interactive zone, the multi-cafe screen zone and the cyber zone.
The virtual reality zone offers a variety of fun, from shooting games and horseback riding to an exciting roller coaster ride. In the AR zone are digital screens on the wall and the floor that react to the visitors’ motions. For instance, when guests take a step on the screen, the fish gather around the foot as if the foot is in the water.
The multi-cafe is a multi-purpose space that not only serves drinks and food, but also offers books and other souvenirs for parents to enjoy. Next to the cafe is the screen zone, which offers a range of digital sports games such as screen golf and baseball. The cyber zone is great to educate children, as it offers simulations about hazardous situations such as earthquakes and fires, and informs them about safety precautions that must be taken during these events.
“We aimed for the whole family to be able to come and enjoy our facility, not just kids,” said the manager. “It’s a theme park suited for the upcoming fourth industrial revolution.”
To go to VR Monster Town, get off at Jangji Station, line No. 8, exit 1 and take bus No. 3012, 60 or 362. Get off at Songpa Dream Apartment station and go to the 11th floor of Wirye Central Tower. Admission costs 18,000 won from Monday to Thursday and 20,000 won from Friday to Sunday. For more information, call (031) 756-7759.
BY YOON SO-YEON [firstname.lastname@example.org]