Having grown up exclusively visiting Disney parks, I feel like a bit of an amusement park snob. After all, everything at Disneyland is just so, down to the most minuscule of details and I often find myself saying in real life places, “I feel like I’m in Disneyland!” So of course when I visited Lotte World in Seoul, I instantly began an in depth comparison. What made it so easy to do however, is that Lotte World seems as though it’s trying desperately TO be Disney-esque, from it’s rodent inspired mascots Lorry and Lotty, to an electrical parade rife with smiling, dancing, imported-from-Russia performers, Lotte World even has the quintessential castle which looks suspiciously like Disney’s Sleeping Beauty variety.
As I heard countless times from my students when I taught ESL in Daegu last year, this half indoor, half outdoor park is the dream outing for Korean children when they eventually get a break from the books. Filled with a bevy of rides like Pharoah’s Fury (a mediocre copy of the Indiana Jones Adventure in D-Land), shops sporting colorful character clad tchotchkes and food stands purveying way more than the ubiquitous amusement park corn dogs and churros: Peanut buttered roast squid anyone?
After the initial frenzy of park comparisons I simply relaxed into the Korean-ness of it all, appreciating quirks of grammar on signs and hand-clasped pairs sporting all-out couplewear (matching outfits worn by couples in Korea). The park was deliciously empty due to it being a weekday during the school year and a typhoon a-brewing in the sultry skies. Good thing too because I would have been highly irked had my 34,000 won (that’s with the foreigner discount–sorry Koreans, you must pay 40,000) entrance ticket only enabled me to stand in hours long lines for rides that last a maximum of about 60 seconds.
Although I didn’t indulge in any peanut buttered squid or buy matching tiger ears to wear with my boyfriend, I did scream on the coasters, crunch on a churro and snap photos at every souvenir photo op. Despite my snobbishness, I confess that I thoroughly enjoyed the day at Lotte World–but don’t worry Disney, you’re still my main squeeze.