My website would not be legitimized as dealing with « urban exploration » if I had not written about an abandoned amusement park. So I found one, thanks to Brïn, my mentor, the person who knows all of Beijing’s hidden treasures. Indeed, his web page about the Floating Dragon Amusement Park gave me the idea to go explore it (even if I found the exact location and entry strategies by myself). Thanks again Brïn, although I do not agree at all with the B grade, give the place more dignity! Here is why.
Beijing Amusement Park: the first symbol of entertainment during the economic reforms in China
Ok this is not Wonderland, Beijing’s world famous urbex spot. You can read and admire pictures of that one here. I have never been to Wonderland, it is really sad that one got demolished in 2013, before we went there… But in my opinion, Beijing Amusement Park is a pure little jewell. The essential and most valuable difference with Wonderland is that this park has a long history and carries a strong social memory in the city of Beijing: the place is not a failed project, it was actually used for more than twenty years! So yes, perhaps professional photographers did not value it as much as Wonderland but urban sociologists and true urbexers will agree with me: this abandoned theme park will make you travel even more!
First of all, it is a huge park, located in the center of Beijing. How amazing is that, to enjoy a walk alone in such a large empty place within the second-ring road! That is the first reason why this urbex site is precious. The surface is large for the city center: 530 000 m2 in total including 170 000 m2 of (former) water area.
Secondly, it carries great historical value. It has a been a witness of the changing leisure practices in China since the beginning of the economic reforms. The park started construction in 1984, it features architectural designs which take us back to the beginning of China’s opening up to the world, as it was the first amusement park equipped with structures and machines imported from the Western countries. At the time, it was a « modern » revolution for the people born after the 1970s, especially for the « after 80-generation » of Beijingers that grew up with this park and considered it as the « earliest » amusement park in the capital city. That is also why I am not hiding the park’s real name on the entrance sign. In Beijing, this place is really a « secret de Polichinelle », an open secret, if you see my point: every Beijinger remembers this park as the first Chinese « Disney » (迪士尼) theme park and many of them have been there at least once, they all know where it is located and they know that it is abandoned now. When arriving to the place, one can notice many people taking photos of it, walking along the gates, with clearly a lot of memories in mind.
That is why I believe this place conveys a romantic atmosphere a bit like East Berlin’s Spreepark, the mythical theme park which closed in 20011. Both theme parks were built as new amusement facilities in socialist societies and both kept their ferris wheel intact, abandoned, moaning and oscillating along with the wind.
Therefore, this park deserves all our attention and respect as a silent witness of the past. It closed down on June 17. 2010. It seems that in 2008 the Dongcheng district government published a plan of expanding the sport center area (龙潭湖体育产业园) next to Beijing Amusement Park by removing the theme park equipement and building sport facilities instead, including an ice-rink for instance. This project was never carried out and the park went in decay. On this photo, you can get an idea of how it used to look like:
I must agree with Brïn about the demolition, a large part of the equipment has been torn down since 2010, especially all the rollercoasters. This is a pity: abandoned theme parks with rollercoasters are the best, just check out Japan’s Nara Dreamland and you will understand what I mean.
A tale of two parks
If you want to push the exploration further to the whole area, you can go to the other Chinese park located just on the opposite side of the main road: Floating Dragon Park (龙潭公园). There is indeed an interesting sharp contrast. While Floating Dragon Park is crowded with visitors on weekends, Beijing Amusement Park is only used by employees (namely security guards, park cleaners and gardeners). The Floating Dragon Lake (龙潭湖) is shared by the two parks. While it is well maintained in Floating Dragon Park, it is all dried out in Beijing Amusement Park. Beware of the mosquitoes during the summer, they are crazy strong.
And finally, when Beijing Amusement Park closed in 2010, the bus lines that arrived in the area to « Beijing Amusement Park » station were all re-named after « Floating Dragon Park »…
Exploring Beijing Amusement Park: let the magic of vintage urbex happen!
Maybe the architecture is not breathtaking but this exploration was great thanks to the vintage spirit of the park!
Beijing Amusement Park displays a mixture of cheesy theme park architectural features, both Western and Chinese, which are quite interesting. While the Chinese elements focus on dragons, the Western elements focus on Disney-style forms.
When one enters through the main door, one can look at the main island, where the ferris wheel is located.
The first big abandoned building is a video game center.
To walk in the park, there were a series of bridges connecting to the different islands but they are all blocked now, one must go in the former lake to climb on each island. To arrive to the ferris wheel, people used to take this Disney-style bridge that seemed to be part of a whole castle.
The area where the ferris wheel is located still has a lot of photogenic items. There are quite a few abandoned buildings and restaurants.
The ferris wheel is not even rusty, it looks stunningly beautiful.
There is a 4D cinema next to the ferris wheel.
These two look good together.
The many boats that were in the lake are now stocked outside, stranded on the wild grass.
Do not ask me about the horror house, I was too scared to go in as I went alone on this urbex…
On the other side of the park, there was the rallye area.
As you can see, I felt touched by Beijing Amusement Park, even if it is indeed really empty now. Yet, for an empty place, it is still quite lively with all the movements of the security guards present at all the gates and the employees who continue to work as if the place was just temporarily closed…
Actually, about the future of the place, here are some interesting insights: after a long period of uncertainties due to a lack of officially disclosed projects and according to the most recent news reports and interviews, this place would get rehabilitated and could open as an amusement park again in the near future2. Construction work could resume shortly.
Before too many changes happen, I hope I can come back to admire this sleeping beauty again.
If you are scared of climbing over a fence, I still recommend you go admire this place from outside, it is worth a few photos, especially at dusk. You might find local people who also like to walk around the park, full of nostalgia.
If you liked this report about an abandoned theme park, you can also read my reports about the amazing Mekong River Ropeway and the forgotten Mengle Culture Garden in the Monkey Mountain in Yunnan (Xishuangbanna).
- There are quite a few differences between the two parks though. Beijing Amusement Park has been abandoned for only five years and a half while it has been more than ten years for Spreepark. Moreover, in Beijing Amusement Park, most of the equipment was demolished while in Spreepark, most of it was left there. The general aspect of Spreepark is more overgrown than for Beijing Amusement Park. ↩
- See « Abandoned for five years, Beijing Amusement Park’s ruins will be rehabilitated this year » (北京游乐园今年原址修复 曾关停五年已荒芜), Beijing Times 京华时报, January 7. 2016. ↩