Royal Jubillee Carousel

Everland: What Would Stefan Zwanzger Say?

One of my inspirations for starting KateWasHere is blogger Stefan Zwanzger, a.k.a. The Theme Park Guy. Ever since I stumbled upon his zany website in 2009, I would always picture myself in Stefan’s shoes whenever I’d visit a new theme park.

Last week, when my family and I stepped into Korea’s Everland, I asked myself, “What would Zwanzger think?” I wanted my initial impressions of Everland to be organic, so I resisted the urge to check his blog until our trip was over.

Entrance to Everland

K-Pop Hologram. During our visit, it was a PSY concert. Next attraction: 2ne1!
Snow Festival: Everland’s theme from January 3 to February 28, 2014

At the Global Fair area
Global Fair’s gift shop section
Venetia restaurant at Global Fair

My family and I were on a scheduled group tour, so we had only four hours to explore Everland. In my book, first-world theme park needs at least eight hours to be fully experienced. My sister Karen and I are the types who’d enter every gift shop, sample every bit of overpriced carnie junk food, and watch every kiddy show. As for the major rides, let’s just say I’m the roller coaster lone ranger of the family.

My thoughts on Everland:

While you can feel this theme park’s strive to have their own persona, there’s just something very Disneyland-like about the place, from the way they’ve structured their five themed neighborhoods—Global Fair, American Adventure, Magic Land, European Adventure, and Zoo-Topia—to the “It’s a Small World”-like architecture of the shops and attractions.

Tree playhouse
Rolling X-Train at American Adventure
The Skyway ski lift that takes you from American Adventure to European Adventure’s carnival square
Snow Buster at European Adventure

I felt a bit lost with Everland’s identity. One souvenir shop had all things cutesy and K-Pop, but I didn’t feel the urge to buy anything because I knew I could find them in more affordable street shops. Another area was banking on Madagascar with plush animals and safari shows. I noticed the Snow Festival theme in some parts of Everland, but not enough to make a lasting imprint such as Legoland and Knott’s Berry Farm. At the end of our short visit, I found myself asking, “Who are you really, Everland?”

Dubbed as the biggest and best theme park of South Korea, Everland’s standout attractions were their thrill rides that I mustered enough courage to go on—Rolling X-Train (with two 360° revolutions), Let’s Twist (a octopus-like ride that will make you see stars), Hurricane (a “megaton-grade tornado” that spins 19 meters above ground) and Snow Buster (a novelty for pacific islanders like myself). For the life of me, I skipped the Double Rock Spin (up to four consecutive full spins at a height of 20 meters).

Royal Jubillee Carousel
Carnie food

Castle of Oz: a playground for kids
’50s vehicles and vintage posters at American Adventure

Safari World, although one of the main attractions of Everland, left the PETA in me feeling sorry for the lions, tigers, and lone liger living in captivity with a limited running radius. Yogi Bear was cute—he stood up and “danced” whenever the safari driver lured him with biscuits, while one lion resting in front of an iced formation was worth a few Instagram photos. Other than that, I was ready to erase the captive wild animals out of my mind.

Rolling X-Train and Sky Cruise
Pororo 3D Adventure
Etude House has its own makeup shop inside Everland.

It’s too bad their biggest roller coaster, T Express, was closed for the winter season. As I compared notes with Zwanzger’s blog review after my trip, he raved about how this steep wooden roller coaster makes Everland one of the most successful theme parks in the world. His winter visit was a bit disappointing because many rides were closed, so he came back one summer to ride the T Express, thus increasing his rating.

It sounds like summer is the best time to visit Everland.