Friday, August 12, 2011

Mega Kiddie Play Area and Mall in Changchun

In an earlier post, I commented on a ramp at an historic site in Guiyang, Guizhou that was being used in a manner its designers had not likely intended -- as a kiddie slide.

In Changchun, Jilin I saw something else that prompted kids to play.  However, in this case the designers clearly had kids in mind:

This rather incredible play area is in a very large mall in central Changchun.  It was particularly striking to me since I'd never seen a play area on this scale before.  A Shanghainese friend told me that they recall seeing even bigger play areas in Shanghai as a child but they now seem to be fewer in number (I haven't seen anything like this in Shanghai myself).  I have to admit I was a bit jealous nothing like this was available when & where I grew up as a kid.

Is this one of those things that's easy to be impressed by only to discover it's unsafe or built improperly?  I saw nothing obviously amiss but I really don't know.  If I had kids, I probably would have caved in if they wanted to play in it.  All I know for sure is that it's been open for at least well over a year (based on my two visits to Changchun).

It is but one of the attractions in the mall.  For example, there is also an indoor amusement park on the 4th floor.  It includes a number of rides such as the ubiquitous swinging pirate ship and also some dinosaur scenes such as this one:

Fortunately not real

Similar (but smaller) to what can be found at The Grand Canal Shoppes at The Venetian hotels in either Las Vegas or Macau, China there is also a fake Venetian-style shopping corridor with its very own canal:

As you can see in the photos, there weren't a lot of people at the mall (at least relative to its size).  I've seen it far busier on other days, though, and there is a lot of space for people to be.

The mall is not representative of the typical shopping experience in the Changchun area, but it represents the "big" side of China that can be found in a variety of places.  As China's economy grows, malls like this may become more common in places such as Changchun, an area with over 7 million people.

At least that's probably what some kids are hoping for.

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