Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween in Happy Valley

A few weeks ago some friends asked if I wanted to go to Happy Valley. Happy Valley? I've been there, albeit back in central Pennsylvania. I inquired: What is this "Happy Valley"?

Happy Valley (Beijing), as it turns out, is a theme park in the southeast of the city. It's similar to Universal Studios' Islands of Adventure in Florida with the park divided into different areas with different themes. The areas included Atlantis, the Ant Kingdom, the Aegean (Mediterranean), an ancient Maya Civilization, and a race car/speed way area.

Happy Valley had thrill rides. Happy Valley had games you can never win. Happy Valley had people in costume in the different themed areas. And Happy Valley had roller coasters.

Back in the States, when I was in high school, my dad and I would go to a major theme park every summer to try out some of the best roller coasters America had to offer. Six Flags was one of our favorite parks, but we also took a road trip to Cedar Point in Ohio to ride the world's tallest roller coaster (at the time), Millennium Force. Happy Valley's roller coasters weren't the biggest, or best, but they served their purpose and provided me with a much needed adrenaline boost.

Halloween decorations were everywhere in preparation for the coming ghoulish holiday. It was nice to see jack-o-lanterns since the Western holiday is largely ignored outside major tourist spots.

Happy Valley Beijing wasn't as fun as Happy Valley PA -- rides and roller coasters just can't compensate for football games, parties and the college life. But buckling into the seat of a roller coaster and letting the anticipation of the first drop build up brought back great memories of summer trips to some of America's best theme parks.

ATLANTIS DISCOVERED: Who knew that the lost city of Atlantis was actually in the suburbs of Beijing? The roller coast had the same design as the Superman ride at Six Flags theme park in New Jersey

MA MA MAYA: Another themed area of Happy Valley was like ancient South America, with Mayan statues and other native structures

MAYAN PARADE: A few park staff in costume paraded around the Mayan themed area

ANT KINGDOM: The kid area of the theme park was a larger-than-life ant colony. The ant in this photo is doing a traditional Chinese camera pose: two fingers up making the "peace" sign

HAPPY HALLOWEEN: Halloween decorations were all around -- a nice reminder that the holiday was upon us

BIG SPLASH: A visitor to the Aegean sea area is about to get his by a wave from a Poseidon ride, similar to the Sploosh at Knoebel's Grove in Pennsylvania

SAFE ZONE: I also took the opportunity to get a cool photo of the massive wave -- but I stood far enough away to avoid getting wet

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