When we arrived we saw signs that said "Festival for Foreigners" over the three-day holiday, but they didn't have any more information. Searches on the internet, in English and Korean, and on the Everland webpage when I got home didn't turn up anything either. But when we got to the ticket window we were told foreigners should line up at a different window. I figured we would be tested for swine flu or something, or made to pose for some photographs about globalized Korea, but eventually we were directed to the group ticket window where we learned foreigners could get in for 25,000 won instead of the regular 35,000 won admission price. I didn't think to snap any pictures of the "Festival for Foreigners" signs, and like I said there wasn't even a pop-up on the Everland site when I checked. Today I did find a mention of a special discount in a Korean-language article from the 3rd, and a Joongang Ilbo Chuseok preview didn't mention a discount:
At theme parks in and around the city, visitors can enjoy rides as well as events that highlight Korea’s traditions. Everland in Yongin, Gyeonggi, for instance, will offer folk games from Friday to Sunday, while Lotte World in eastern Seoul will feature the percussion band Dudeurak.
When I got home I resolved to send an email of thanks to whomever it concerns over there, and encourage other readers to do the same. Many of us don't get the discounts Koreans routinely get because we don't, and often can't, use credit cards to pay for tickets and meals. Most importantly, people at the park probably realized that many foreigners feel bored and lonely during large nationwide holidays like this. However, I haven't been able to track down the proper email address. When I do I'll pass it along. It was a nice gesture, and a heck of an addition to a fun day.
These photographs are nothing special. Flickr will be your friend for stuff worth looking at.
As you can see the theme was Halloween.
For a little while they did have an area set up with traditional Korean holiday games and paraphernalia.
The most pleasant spot to walk around was the Four Seasons and Rose Gardens.
There's a Safari Zone in which you ride in a bus that passes by lions, tigers, and bears walking around freely. The bears do tricks like walking, clapping, or doing a 섹시포즈 for food.
The safari was my fiance's favorite part, and it is quite a change for those used to zoos where animals sleep all day. I think getting up close is a neat experience, but I'm not sure if combining preserve and circus is the best way to teach about these animals. Here are some baby lions with a baby fennec fox.
Overhead there are wire pipes through which squirrels and chipmunks run. Coati were overhead as well.
I'd like to see less of this, though:
This also annoyed me:
But then I saw there was a vending machine next to the polar bear exhibit with polar bear food.
Regardless of how appropriate that food may or may not be for polar bears, considering how often Koreans will throw their own food into all the other exhibits---to say nothing of other inappropriate behavior around animals---I think anything that encourages the habit should be removed.
One small complaint we had, in addition to visitors feeding the animals, was that there was really nothing to buy. As I wrote in August, my fiance and I are keeping our eyes out for souvenirs of our time in Korea. Everything in the gift shops there was crap, though, largely because Everland doesn't have any characters. There are some things that are basically imitations of Mickey and Minnie, and there are some other creatures, but none of those unidentifiable stuffed animals had anything with "Everland" on them.
Also interesting was the "Halloween Festival" going on in September and October. Koreans by and large don't celebrate Halloween, and aside from a few scraps of information gleaned from their native speaker English teachers, they know nothing about it. From what I gather, Halloween is basically a hagwon holiday here. Everland is in a position, then, to define the holiday for itself and set a tradition for how its celebrated. I know at least for Christmas---one of Korea's many just-for-fun holidays, and one divorced from Western context---when I think of Christmas-y stuff going on in Korea, Everland and the "Christmas Fantasy" event in November and December come to mind. For better or worse, Everland has basically a blank slate to work with for Halloween; a great idea, were it really interested in hitting it out of the park, would be to offer free treats to kids who came to the park dressed up. Hell, offer something for anyone coming in costume. It gets chilly in October, I know, but in Pittsburgh I used to trick-or-treat in the snow.
If you're interesting in going to Everland, located in the city of Yongin just south of Seoul, there are a number of buses that go there from Seoul and Gyeonggi-do. If you do take the bus from outside Gangnam Station, as we did, be advised that though it's outside exit 6, it's not listed on the placard with all the other buses. You'll need to walk a few minutes.