Land of Smurfs

Beloved blue car­toon char­ac­ters find new home at Shang­hai theme park

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - Con­tact the writer at xingyi@chi­

Our team im­mersed com­pletely into the world and DNA of the Smurfs and an­a­lyzed the site … and an in­cred­i­ble Smurfy story was de­vel­oped, which fits the build­ing and bud­get per­fectly.”

Yan­nick Maes, CEO of Bel­gium-based KCC En­ter­tain­ment Design

Just as the car­toon char­ac­ters, Min­ions, are beloved by Chi­nese chil­dren, the Smurfs mes­mer­ized their par­ents, who watched the se­ries in the 1980s and ’90s.

China’s first Smurfs theme park opened in Shang­hai on May 29, giv­ing Chi­nese par­ents a nos­tal­gic place to re­visit their good-old mem­o­ries and their chil­dren a new mag­i­cal land to ex­plore.

Ac­cord­ing to In­ter­na­tional Mer­chan­dis­ing, Pro­mo­tion and Ser­vices, the world­wide li­cen­sor of the Smurfs’ car­toon images and brand, the world’s only other two Smurfs theme parks are in Moscow and Dubai.

The park in sub­ur­ban Songjiang district is about an hour’s drive from down­town.

The Smurfs park is in­side a larger in­door-en­ter­tain­ment park — Dream City, which is built by real es­tate devel­oper Shi­mao Group.

Near Dream City’s en­trance is the Kim­ba­land Guardians area, where chil­dren ride bumper cars and race go-karts, and take a jour­ney to the center of the Earth with the Chi­nese car­toon char­ac­ters cre­ated by Shi­mao.

Be­yond the Kim­ba­land, a giant gate re­sem­bling a jun­gle tells vis­i­tors they’re en­ter­ing Smurf ter­ri­tory.

First cre­ated by Bel­gian comic artist Pierre Cul­li­ford, known by his pen name,

“Peyo”, in 1958, the

Smurfs are a group of small blue elves that are only three ap­ples tall and live in mushroom houses in a se­cret vil­lage.

Vis­i­tors must nav­i­gate a for­est maze to ar­rive at the Smurfs

Vil­lage. It seems as if they’ve been mag­i­cally shrunken to be­come Smurfs — they can check out their new iden­ti­ties at the Smurf Mir­ror, a dig­i­tal-in­ter­ac­tion screen that merges peo­ple’s faces with those of such pop­u­lar Smurf char­ac­ters as Papa Smurf and Smur­fette, who’s the group’s only fe­male.

The vil­lage is where chil­dren meet their fa­vorite Smurfs, ex­plore and play in the mushroom houses and go on rides, the most pop­u­lar of which is the Baker’s Jam, a small, self-spin­ning roller­coaster that mim­ics the process of how Smurfs make their fa­vorite berry jam. The vil­lain­ous Gargamel’s House is a thriller. In the car­toon, the evil wiz­ard Gargamel is the Smurfs’ arch neme­sis and has a cat called Azrael. Here, vis­i­tors can go through Gargamel’s house, which is a ghost house full of dif­fer­ent sounds, lights and mo­tion ef­fects, to res­cue the cap­tured Smurfs. Bel­gium-based KCC En­ter­tain­ment Design is be­hind the Shang­hai park’s con­cept and schematic design. CEO Yan­nick Maes says in a news re­lease: “Our team im­mersed com­pletely into the world and DNA of the Smurfs and an­a­lyzed the site … and an in­cred­i­ble Smurfy story was de­vel­oped, which fits the build­ing and bud­get per­fectly.” Dream City gen­eral man­ager Lou Xuan says the in­door design cre­ates an im­mer­sive ex­pe­ri­ence and is ideal for par­ents with chil­dren dur­ing Shang­hai’s muggy sum­mer­time.

“The con­struc­tion took around 400 days, and we’re glad that the coro­n­avirus has been con­trolled in Shang­hai, so that we can open the park right be­fore In­ter­na­tional Chil­dren’s Day,” he says, adding that the park re­ceived an av­er­age of 2,000 vis­i­tors a day in the past month.

The cur­rent op­er­at­ing area cov­ers 20,000 square me­ters and fea­tures around 40 recre­ational fa­cil­i­ties.

Lou says the park will de­velop its 10,000-square-me­ter out­door area next year to add more na­ture el­e­ments.

Tick­ets are 160 yuan ($23) for adults, 80 yuan for chil­dren be­tween 1.1 and 1.4 me­ters tall, and free for chil­dren shorter than 1.1 me­ters.

Shang­hai-based pho­tog­ra­pher Ji Nan posted a photo of her daugh­ter vis­it­ing the park on the Sina Weibo mi­cro blog on June 13.

“My girl loves the movie Smurfs very much. So, I brought her to the theme park when I heard about it,” the 30-year-old says dur­ing their sec­ond visit.

Other at­trac­tions ad­ja­cent to the park in­clude the In­ter­Con­ti­nen­tal Shang­hai Wonderland ho­tel, built in a de­serted quarry pit with 16 of its 18 floors un­der­ground and two floors un­der­wa­ter, and the Wonderland Area, an­other theme park de­vel­oped by the Shi­mao Group fea­tur­ing a glass plank road along the cliff of the quarry and a zi­pline.

Also nearby are the Shang­hai Chen­shan Botan­i­cal Gar­den and the Guang­fulin Relic Park, an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal site hosting ar­ti­facts from over 4,000 years ago.

HK $10


Above: A theme-park em­ployee wears a Smurf cos­tume. Center: Vis­i­tors cos­play as Smurfs in Shang­hai on June 25, the birth­day of the char­ac­ters’ cre­ator, Bel­gian comic artist Pierre Cul­li­ford. Bot­tom: The en­trance to Dream City — an in­door amuse­ment park that houses the Smurf Theme Park as well as a theme park of the Chi­nese car­toon, Kim­ba­land Guardians, in Shang­hai’s Songjiang district.

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