Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Splendid China closing a tragedy

Chinese temple scene5
Chinese temple scene5, originally uploaded by mharrsch.
Splendid China was a family theme park featuring more than 60 incredibly detailed replicas of China's most historic landmarks, including a half-mile long Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the modern archeological site of the Terra Cotta Warriors and dozens of other sites and scenes. Sadly, I read on its web site that it closed on December 31, 2003 because of the post 9/11 downturn in tourism.

I found the park fascinating despite the fact that it was 105 degrees the day I visited. I thought the opportunity to see so many beautiful historic places, even in scaled-down versions was truly wonderful, especially since I may never have the chance to see China in person. This type of educational experience is so much more memorable in the long run than a traditional amusement park full of rollercoasters although younger visitors need to have interactivity to stimulate them. When I was there, visitors had already dwindled so many of the scheduled events were scaled back or no longer offered. I love architectural models so I was enthralled anyway but other visitors would probably need additional activities to heighten their interest. I did attend a performance of Chinese acrobats but I think it would have been more intriguing if the acrobats had chosen people from the audience and tried to teach them how to balance the jars and other objects they used in their act. I think having audience participation is critical now days in themed venues since everyone is becoming so used to interactivity with the internet and with modern video games.

I especially enjoyed walking through the 1/3 scale model of the excavation of the terracotta warriors. I had seen the original warriors when the "Tombs of China" traveling exhibit was displayed at the museum in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. However, seeing even a scaled down version of them still in their trenches was very unique since I doubt that I will ever be able to see the real ones in situ.

To see my other photos check out Splendid China
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