Category Archives: Theme Parks

Great Posters, Theme Parks / ,

13 Amazing Indian Circus Posters

Shravanabelagola, India

We were in this tiny village to see a 57-foot naked man, towering over everything, but he wasn’t the only thing to catch my eye. Wheat-pasted to every surface — crumbling walls and old wooden shop doors — amazing Jumbo Circus posters!

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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Offbeat Museums, Theme Parks / ,

Chinese Freak Shows: An Age-Old New Years Tradition

Two-headed ladies! Ladies with tails! Big-headed ladies and snake-eating ladies and elephants, too!

All this, for only 75 cents!

Every year, for Chinese New Year, these tents appear across the country. This one was in rural Shanxi Province. Outside, an old lady counted her renminbi in the cold. She shouted out “Five kuai!”

She completely ignored the monkey on the swing.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Strange Tourism, Theme Parks / , ,

Don’t Forget Your Cute Tiger Pictures

After the horrors of the tiger park, I neglected to mention the cute photo ops at the end of the tour. I mean, how awesome is this vertical line of tigerocity?

After taking the picture, the employee wrenched the doped-out cub from our cuddle. He shoved it in a medium-sized tupperware storage container. He clipped on the lid. And he walked away.

The cub struggled for a while, but then went quiet. I wanted to cry.

The other photo opportunity was to pose with a fierce photoshopped Siberian tiger. We didn’t, but this sweet champ did.

/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Strange Tourism, Theme Parks / , ,

Small Children Feeding Live Animals to Tigers in a Chinese Zoo

In northern China there’s a tiger park. Like so many things in China, it’s nothing like you might expect. To start with, there’s a menu at the gate.

These aren’t animals to take home and domesticate. They’re fodder. Victims to be released on your tour.

“Let’s get a cow,” I said.

Michelle just glared at me.

“But this is nature in its purest form,” I said. “It’s the circle of life. It’s the maintenance and renewal of the microcosm. Come on. So how about a sheep?”

She kept glaring.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Modern Ruins, Theme Parks / , ,

Wonderfully Crumbling Old Cardboard Castle

Just off the beaches of Chennai, covered in crow guano, trash and cow dung, lies the creepily gorgeous ruins of the Snowball amusement park.

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Holy Curiosities, Theme Parks / , , , ,

15 More Pictures from weirdoid Tiger Balm Park

AsiaObscura friend Dawn Xiana Moon ( sent over a pile more pix from the absolutely incredible statues and terrifying dioramas at Tiger Balm Park aka Har Paw Villa. See our original story here, or click on her pix below for full-sized versions….

/ by Dean Pickles / Leave a comment
Holy Curiosities, Theme Parks, Top Stories / ,

The Creepiest Amusement Park of All Time?

Singapore is bland. It’s a high-priced row of shopping malls and fine eateries, with a few hawker markets thrown in. “It’s soooooo boring,” warned my hairdresser Miss P.

But then you stumble on something like this. The Tiger Balm Gardens: The most disturbing theme park of all time.

There’s sex, violence, bear-maulings and scabies. Statues of slutty immoral crotch-grabbing wenches, and creepy animals dressed as humans. Down a dark musty cave, a terrifying tableaux displays every vengeance that awaits you in the hell you’ll surely meet.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 11 Comments
Events, Theme Parks / , , , ,

Return to Fake Disneyland? Sweeeeeet!

This past weekend, AO hosted our third BeijingObscura outing: a return to the magnificent Copyright Infringement Park, aka Fake Disneyland! Thanks to everyone who made it–it wouldn’t have been the same without you, and your absolute awesomeness!!!

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/ by Dean Pickles / 1 Comment
Theme Parks / , ,

Beyond the Valley of the Dwarfs: The Strangest Theme Park Ever?

“Before coming here, I was tending cattle, and feeding pigs,” Xiao Cao told me. “I never even knew how to dance.”

“And now, she’s our leading dancer!” laughed Zhang Furong.

Xiao Cao is a dancer. Zhang Furong is a singer. They’re both under 4’3″ tall. They live in, and perform at, The Kingdom of the Dwarfs.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 3 Comments
Theme Parks / , , , , ,

Incredible Low-Tech Laotian Merry-Go-Round

When I was living in Kathmadu 20 years ago (yow!) this summer, I found this awesomely makeshift ferris wheel in a nearby theme park.  A teenager would stand in the middle, and walk from one bar to the next, giving passengers a slow, staggered ride.

Much more recently in southern Laos, down on the island Don Khon, I stumbled across a close cousin: the makeshift merry-go-round or carousel.  I think there was a generator giving it a little power, but the operator had to push it around for it to keep any momentum.  For context, this is an island where rooms cost one dollar a night, there’s electricity for only a few hours a day, and the closest email terminal was an hour away.

Here’s a short video…  pretty awesome.

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Strange Tourism, Theme Parks / , , , ,

Fiendishly Fun Photo Ops at World Park

While we were busy on our own adventures, Chinese tourists flocked to Beijing’s glorious World Park of their own accord. Some of them with entire camera crews in tow. Wedding photos, engagement photos, bff shots, they were costumed, posed, and so immaculately arranged. Here’s a couple of our favorites!

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Modern Ruins, Theme Parks / ,

Another Abandoned Beijing Amusement Park

What is it with these half-built, then abandoned, Beijing amusement parks? We’re old fans of The Romance Park of the Heart, which is filled with Swiss chalets, Siamese pagodas, and packs of wild dogs looking to tear your legs off. But we kept hearing about another one, in the opposite direction… Wonderland!

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/ by Dean Pickles / 2 Comments
Theme Parks / ,

Tongzhou’s "Kids with Measles" Ride

I don’t know if I’d feel too comfortable getting close to these kids…. let alone allow my children to ride their backs…

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Theme Parks / ,

Outsider Art Kangaroos at the Beijing Zoo

I wasn’t much impressed with the Beijing zoo.  Quite the contrary…  I was absolutely horrified. We left depressed.  (See this story for a hint of the madness.)

But on the upside, while we saw no live kangaroos, we did happen on these lovely grazing sculptures, made from pieces of found wood. It felt more like something you’d see made from North Carolina driftwood…

My favorite’s the last one, so minimal, and so cute.


/ by Dean Pickles / 6 Comments
Copyright Carelessness, Theme Parks / ,

Beijing’s incredible (and completely fake) Disneyland

I was always sad Beijing didn’t have a Disneyland for weekend fun, but it turns out we do. Well, a fake one. Not far from the center of town, at the Bajiao stop on subway Line 1, is the incredible Beijing Shijingshan Amusement Park (北京石景山游乐园). Admission was about US$1.50, and what a world of wonders lies inside!

The Park!

I know, I know, it looks a little like Disneyland.

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/ by Dean Pickles / 8 Comments
Modern Ruins, Theme Parks / , , , , ,

The Romance Park of the Heart – an abandoned Beijing theme park

Beijing’s filled with hidden secrets. Behind all those highrise tower blocks and overpasses, there is awesomeness to be found. And so it was that we heard rumors of a decrepit half-built theme park, somewhere way out west. The rumors came from a Chinese film student, who’d heard them from a friend, who’d heard them from another friend. No-one knew where on a map they were. “Just go to the Yuquanlu subway stop,” said Bing, “and walk south. That’s where it is! Ask a passerby.”

We did just that. And two hours later, we were still walking and asking passerby. The problem wasn’t that no-one had heard of it… everyone local seemed to know what we were talking about, but everyone local pointed us in a different direction. Two blocks in one direction. Twenty minutes in another. Half an hour walking along a highway. Finally we got wise, and paid a stranger to drive us around the neighborhood. And, in a moment of enlightenment, through a gap in the buildings, we saw what we were looking for: The Romance Park of the Heart.

This is what it looks like from the roadside (at least last year, it did. The last time we happened by, it was all being torn down.)

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