Man am I pooped after today. This is technically the second day that we are in Seoul but, once again, we are venturing outside the city. This time it isn’t something of major historical importance but Everland – the biggest amusement park in South Korea and the 14th busiest in the world. If you take a Klook deal, or the like, it’s about an hour outside of Seoul and is worth trying to get as late a return as possible. We were there for 12 hours and whilst I am absolutely knackered, I have had an absolutely incredible day.
Seeing that it is October as I am writing this, Everland has been all kitted out in Halloween decorations. This also means twice daily Halloween parades and food. However, it really kicks off after dark with some rides becoming spooky versions (more on that later) and Halloween shows including a zombie dance show and metal music (although, to be fair, the one we saw did a metal cover of Lady GaGa’s ‘Born This Way’ with a full death growl). I think seeing how a Korean theme park dealt with Halloween stuff has endeared this country to me all the more.
Anyway let’s talk about the day itself. Despite being a Monday, the park was a lot busier than expected with the waiting time for the big roller coaster hitting 150 minutes at one point. This meant that we actually explored a lot of the park before getting onto our first ride of the day – Thunder Falls. In some ways it’s a conventional log flume, which is good to do first in order to have time to dry out, but they actually had the first smaller drop done backwards and then did a fake out about repeating that for the final plunge. I’ve never had that on a log flume before and little unexpected things like that are really made this day exceptional.
It took a long I time before we got to the next ride, because the queues were ridiculous and because Everland also has a zoo and that was set to close five hours before park closing. On the way we shared a snack of peanut butter roasted squid (nice and chewy) and I lived out my odd dream of trying Dippin Dots for the first time.
The zoo area is deceptively large and boasts something that you wouldn’t expect from an amusement park zoo – the countries only pair of pandas. I know, four years ago I had never seen a panda and now I have seen my fifth set (the others being in Tokyo, Vienna, Singapore and Taipei). Both pandas were awake, happily chopping on bamboo and generally acting like they were the monarchs of all they surveyed. To be fair, they’re probably right.
The zoo section, or Zoo Topia as its called, also has an impressive collection of primates (including enough squirrel monkeys that you could fill a barrel) as well as penguins, seals, fennec foxes and tigers. There’s a bunch of animals that we didn’t get a chance to see as they’re part of a time-slotted ride, but we definitely had a good enough time with all the animals out for they general visitors.
I even made some new bird friends in a small section where you could get close to macaws and the really friendly zoo keeper allowed me to hold a bird on my finger. The bird had his eyes on bigger prizes apparently.
After the zoo we finally got our act together over rides and we started off at the second most popular coaster in the park – the Rolling X-Train. I’m not sure this had a theme other than playing instrumentals of 1950s rock and roll songs. Maybe being a roller coaster with two consecutive loops and some substantial corkscrew action means you don’t need to be as themed. Amazing ride.
Since the app told us it was due to close soon (which ended up being not true, that time ended up being for when the ride was going to to be re-skinned as the horror version) we made a beeline for the Amazon Express. This is one of those river rapids tube rides with two noticeable differences. For one the course is very choppy, so they actually Velcro a tarp over you to prevent you from getting totally drenched. Also, rather than being single ring, you are instead in one of six connected pods, like the pie pieces in a game of Trivial Pursuit. Definitely an excellent twist on the standard, plus the ride worker rapping the Korean safety instructions to the beat of the ambient music was a real treat.
By the time we left the ride it was nearly five and we hadn’t really eaten all day. Since my husband was really fancying the look of the premium burgers in the park’s Burger Cafe, that’s where we went. In the end, when in an amusement park sometimes you just want some stereotypical park food and this shrimp burger did a nice job of being both park food and something I wouldn’t find in the UK.
After our meal of the day, we quickly polished off two more rides (two indoor shooters of sorts, the latter one having a twist of being a shooter mixed with madhouse ride) before joining the queue for the big coaster of the park – the T Express. This coaster may be one of the best that I have ever been on and I am not usually the biggest fan of the giant wooden coasters. It goes super fast with a max of 104 km/hr and has an unpredictable amount of drops and turns. I was on such an adrenaline rush afterwards – unlike the little girl sitting behind me who would not stop crying once the cart drew to a standstill.
At this point night had most definitely fallen so we had a proper look at the Halloween decorations as they really came alive once the sun had set. Also, the ‘Blood City’ area played creepy music and had search lights (looking for escaped zombies) which added to the experience. It was so well done.
We ended up with just one more ride to finish off the day and that was a repeat of the Amazon Express tube ride, but this time as the horror counterpart. On this go around, projectors and screams were up showing zombies, hanging bodies and one even had a demonic little girl stabbing her toy rabbit. Lights were off in certain areas so you didn’t know where the bumps were coming and they’d reduced the number of boats in play, which made the water choppier and even more unpredictable. With the added commentary of uneasy Korean passengers, this was a brilliant experience.
This just left us with some time to kill before the end of the day shows, so we killed some by exploring the Halloween accessorised Four Seasons garden, the rose garden and Rose Castle, which was all lit up and had some musical fountains going every now and then. It also helped that this was where we needed to be in order to scope out viewing positions for the Moonlight Parade.
The Moonlight Parade at Everland is the best show I have ever seen at any amusement park ever. It’s obviously a take on the really popular Disney night parade, but as Everland doesn’t have the cast of characters to fall back on or the strict content rules, they’ve been able to have some real fun with it. Not going to lie, by halfway through I was so full of childlike joy that I was overwhelmed to the point of wanting to cry. It really was truly magical.
After some final souvenir shopping and escape route scoping, it was time to watch the final show of the day which contained singing, dancing, fire, dancing fountains and fireworks. Lots and lots of fireworks. The final five minutes where they went from the show depicting the loose narrative of a “Time Odyssey” to a metric shit-ton of fireworks was truly spectacular. I mean this was one hell of a lot of fireworks being released in a clear sky with a full moon whilst parts of the park were decked out in their Halloween best. You can’t ask more than that to end one of the best amusement park days you’ve ever had.
Well tomorrow I will actually be staying in Seoul all day and seeing something very cultural as big contrast to today’s fun fest. It’s going to be an all day affair in the National Museum of Korea, but first sleep and some well deserved knee resting.