You may know that we traveled to the People’s Republic of China last fall to visit some of the world’s coolest theme parks. Every park stands out in their own way, especially in Asia. However, there is one park that ranked on our “worst parks” list but I can’t wait to revisit. I was in awe the entire time. In a way it was one of my favorite experiences ever. To set the mood, imagine a sprawling resort over mountains, spreading across a bay on the South China Sea. Golf courses, hundreds of villas, hotels, worlds to explore. Now imagine it all being abandoned.
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The resort I will be discussing today is known to most of our western audience as Knight Valley, though that’s technically just a part of the resort that has the infamous Wood Coaster by GCI. Many don’t realize that this is part of a park that is in the top largest parks in the world. Throughout this report you’ll discovery experiences unimaginable in the west. A different world, I’m excited to share with you guys.
We’re in Shenzhen, a major Chinese city bordering Hong Kong and the city of Guangzhou. A region with amazing landscapes and a tropical climate. Shenzhen is home to two OCT properties, Happy Valley Shenzhen (original park from the company) and OCT East. Happy Valley Shenzhen is very nice, a green and well-presented park in the middle of the city. OCT East is the opposite.
This park is large. I’m not talking Magic Kingdom large, I’m talking the size of a city. It’s built in the mountains and roads connect attractions scattered through this lush forest. As you may imagine, there was a whole lot of exploring to do. Here’s a flooded western town themed splash battle. A weird theme, water was disgusting, and clearly there was no one around to battle. Was the ride even open?
The ride is highly suspended and in the process of being taken over by nature. The downside, the animals in the aviaries along the bobkart did not seem in good shape. The ride itself was fun, however. See that road and bridge somewhere in the distance in the hills? Oh yeah, just a midway through the park.
Here’s your first exposure to the massive size of OCT East. The awesome and long Jungle Kart is probably a 15-20 minute walk from the entrance in the bay. There are several hotels in the middle of the lower-part of the park. These are all abandoned. We’ll take a closer look in a bit!
On another plaza we find a great example of the common problem with Chinese parks: a lack of maintenance. A once blue-painted plaza is open, however looks like no one has touched it in like 10 years. In the hills in the background are several dozen 3-story villas, all of which are completely unoccupied. The skyride to the top of the mountain took us past ’em and it was just fascinating.
Somewhere a little closer to the front of the park is a shopping street with restaurants, where we had Pizza Hut and a real fun time trying to order just cheese pizza! This was by far the nicest part of the park, and for a minute it felt like the average Chinese theme park. Everything here was added around the same time as Wood Coaster, when the resort opened. Only very little bits of it were maintained. See the part of the park all the way in the back on the mountain? That’s next.
Seemingly the only place we saw people was the shopping area and then the skyride station for the OCT East transportation to the tallest part of the resort. Just getting here however was so exhausting. Parks like this are heavily under attended to begin with, but all 4 Walt Disney World parks’ capacity combined would still comfortably socially distance at OCT East.
The views are just spectacular, hovering several hundred feet above the jungle past abandoned villages of villas or roads that were partially constructed but never finished. It’s something else guys, like how did we get here.
Okay, we made it to the top of the park! I was excited, we’re talking about some of the most amazing views I’ve ever seen, absolutely stunning. South China is gorgeous. Much of China brings along urban beauty. Entire ghost cities, infrastructure like no other, but crumbling from the get go. I can start a whole blog just on that, but you’re here for theme parks so I digress.
It’s just gorgeous up here. By now I’m starting to have my Chinese aha-moments. (I had them several times a day). The majority of what you see in this picture, from the lakes/roads/villas on the left to the park’s hotels in the middle, and the resort village on the bay, is abandoned. Shells posing to be the world’s most fantastic tourist destination. Just writing this gives me mad flashbacks to so many developments all over this great country in the exact same shape. Fascinatingly beautiful.
Enjoying this amazing view took a while. I was truly having the time of my life. I just wasn’t expecting this. Little did I know that the most amazing, surprising, an beautiful parts were yet to come.
Okay so we have looked at one side of this massive park, right? Our park map talked about temples, golf courses, tea gardens. We look at the other side of the mountain and there it was. A sprawling world of gardens, temples, hotels, golf courses. It was incredible. Who ever thought this was a good idea? Like Walt Disney World is not this large.
A ghost town in the sky, a new obsession. It was gorgeous out. Where was I? As I was editing these pictures I realized why I waited so long to write this. I was overwhelmed. It is one of the coolest things I have ever done. I can’t believe this place is “open” for business. Another reminder that everything you see in front of you is closed:
Thousands of hotel rooms, a town meant for the rich. A world hovering in the gorgeous tropical mountains, meant to be perhaps the biggest entertainment complex in the world. The Orlando of China. Chimelong actually made it happen only a few hours away in Hengqing Bay, but this is the failed predecessor.
Funny enough we went to Chimelong Ocean Kingdom the day before, and these two polar opposites had me shaken up. Early in the day I wished that we had just gone back to Hengqing Bay, but this place ended up being one of my absolute favorite things on earth. Here’s a once-relevant African themed section of the park. For some reason there were actually people selling food up here from street carts.
What looks like it was once the most amazingly located hotel in the region, stands here abandoned. Thousands of empty hotel rooms, broken windows, roofs blown off by tropical storms that hit this region every fall. The bridge: a rusted piece of infrastructure falling apart while you stare at it. Meanwhile we’re the only ones wandering about, at least an hour trip back to the entrance of the park.
We’ll get to the hotels in the middle of the park soon, but first let’s walk through some more scenic parts of this park. If you look up you see the amazing ghost town that we explored earlier in the report.