Monday, 14 November 2016

Visit a park and travel back in time

It's more like a wonderful time-travel experience to the Song Dynasty (960-1279).

You are standing in a bustling street with stores such as a blacksmith's shop to explore. Performers dressed in traditional costumes perform and interact with visitors.

You are at Songcheng Resort in Xianghu Lake, Hangzhou, in Zhejiang province. It is about 20 kilometers from the city's landmark scenic area West Lake.

Headquartered in Hangzhou, the Songcheng Group has similar Songcheng resorts in Hangzhou's downtown and other Chinese cities.

Near Songcheng Resort in Xianghu Lake, the group has three other parks-Hangzhou Paradise, Langlanglang Water Park and Crazy Appleland-all adjoining each other.

"You come here not just for one theme park. The four parks offer a wide choice, an amusement park experience, either cultural or thrilling, including land and water facilities," says Zheng Jiejun, the manger of the planning department, Songcheng Resort in Xianghu Lake.

Tourists can buy a through ticket to the parks, or travel agencies offer a popular three-day itinerary.

Travelers can either stay at Songcheng's 5-star hotel for two nights, spend two days in the parks and visit other scenic areas in Xianghu Lake, or leave for Hangzhou's downtown on the last day.

In the Songcheng Resort in Xianghu Lake, your adventure starts when you enter the street.

Do not be scared if you are in a haunted house in pitch darkness, with simulated screams and whistling winds.

One room on the street has the digital version of Along the River During the Qingming Festival, a classic painting by 11th-century painter Zhang Zeduan.

It shows the daily lives of people from all levels of society in the Song Dynasty, such as innkeepers, farmers and peddlers.

Computer animation and sound effects give life to the painting on a 200-square meter screen. It portrays the scenes vividly in a day-night cycle.

All characters move-porters carry goods on their backs, locals chat with each other in a teahouse, and a group of traveling salesmen transport merchandize using camels.

Another room offers three-dimensional artworks on the walls for tourists to pose and take eye-catching photos. Many scenes are from classic costume dramas, such as New Legend of Madame White Snake. It's a household story about a white snake fairy that falls in love with a human in West Lake in Hangzhou.

Tourists can also enjoy the 40-minute performance, The Love Story of Xi Shi, done with projections on screens.

The show is about the legend of Xi Shi, one of the Four Beauties of ancient China, who devoted herself to a king to save her country.

She was born in Zhuji city, Zhejiang province at the end of Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC).

Those who like thrilling rides must visit Hangzhou Paradise.

It also has facilities suitable for children, including a carousel.

The 800-meter-long rollercoaster gives you an exhilarating experience with a vertical drop of about 30 meters.

Other rides can swing and revolve in crazy loops, making you dizzy and feel weightless.

After the rides, visit Langlanglang Water Park.

It has an exclusive water area for children, a vast swimming pool and various water sports such as surfing and water slides.

Crazy Appleland is an indoor theme park for children with a four-dimensional cinema and virtual reality games.

The park also has performances, which focus on subjects like animal migration in Africa.

Children can also join classes which focus on traditional Chinese culture such as Hanfu, or traditional Chinese costumes.

According to Zheng, their main target customers for the parks are Hangzhou's residents and those from the Yangtze River Delta.

Most of their visitors are between the ages of 18 and 30, besides parents traveling with children.

To enhance the visitor experience, the parks have a free Wi-Fi network, free books and magazines, and portable battery chargers for mobile phones in the parks.

When visitors are in long queues during peak hours, staff dressed as clowns sing and dance for the visitors and distribute small gifts.

Every facility has staff equipped with emergency kits containing commonly used medicines.

"Safety is very important. And staff examine and maintain the facilities regularly. We also have an emergency drill every quarter," says Zheng.

When the parks are closed during the off season from December to February, the facilities are upgraded.

Tourists enjoy a fireworks show in a water park in Songcheng Resort in Xianghu Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. [Photo by Xu Lin/China Daily] 

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