CONTRIBUTED BY TERESA FOWLER
Over the 4th of July weekend we traveled with our church group to OceanWorld, a waterpark set in the mountains of Korea. I am not sure we could have found it by ourselves, even with our GPS. It truly is set in the middle of the mountains, with the Vivaldi Ski Resort right next to it. There are 4 or 5 Las-Vegas-size hotels located there are well; a sight to see.
Monsoon season had begun in Korea and so we were VERY worried about the weather. There was a 90% chance of rain all day long, so we were questioning whether to go or not. We were assured that there was also in indoor section and so off we went.
It was a Monday, so we were not expecting crowds, but I still consider it crowded. I can only imagine what it must be like on a weekend! However, being only 90 minutes from Seoul, and having massive hotel resorts to stay at, I can see how Korean families make a long weekend trip for this. The park is huge, the biggest that I have ever seen, and you can easily spend 3 or 4 days there. I imagine that during the winter months the same holds true for the ski resort. I tried booking rooms for the winter and summer and ALL hotels were already booked. I heard that you have to book at least in a year in advance.
When we arrived we were each issued a life vest. Park rules say that everyone, even the adults, have to wear life vests. You can bring your own but their vests, available for rent for 5000 won, are nice and clean and pretty new. It was not much of a bother to wear them all day. They even had sizes for my 2 year old.
Once we got our life vests we went in search of a place to put all of our stuff. Most Koreans just rent a locker and keep everything in there, not needing a central place like Americans seem to desire. For those with a large group or who just want to splurge, there are Veranda’s available; raised up porches with roofs and tiki-blinds to keep the sun out. These are 90000 won per day but you can probably fit a group of 10 people in them. My problem with the verandas is that there is no place to recline, no chairs. There is also the extreme option of a bungalow, which is a little “house” overlooking the whole park with TVs, bathrooms, small kitchen, etc. You don’t stay the night but it is a place to call home for the day. I have no idea how much those would cost. We opted for the lounge chairs, which are scattered all around the park, ours was right next to the children’s pool (perfect!). Each chair is 15000 won and well worth it (according to me). You go pay for your chair, then they give you a ticket to attach to the chair to make sure that people know that this chair is taken and paid for. The lifeguards walk around frequently to make sure no one is sitting on a chair that is not paid for. The one chair was enough to have a place to put our stuff, have a central location the kids would know, and give Mom or Dad a bit of rest while the kids played.
Once we were settled it was PLAYTIME! And man, did we play! This park has it all, for all ages! The wave pool has the biggest waves I have ever seen, the slides are fantastic and huge, the children’s area has a large variety of slides and play items, etc. I seriously give this park 5 stars because of the set-up, cleanliness, variety, and safety. I always felt safe with my little ones; this seems to be a theme in Korea. Even though the park is huge, it was crowded, and I kept a constant eye on my little ones because of their ages (6 and 2 yrs), I always knew that they were safe and the lifeguards were very good at keeping an eye out for everyone.
There are a few rules about the park that we did not realize before we got there (such as the life vest rule): You need to wear a swim cap or hat of some kind while in the water. This is a Korean rule (they don’t like hair clogging the drains). As a person who is “hair-phobic” this is actually a good thing. However, most of us were not prepared for this and had to buy swim caps for 2500 won. The other rule is that you cannot bring any food or drinks into the park. In Korea you can bring a cooler with you almost everywhere you go, but not to Oceanworld. However, there is plenty of snackbars and restaurants in the waterpark. All of the outdoor facilities are only Korean food (which we love!) but there is a Burger King and Starbucks located on the inside portion of the park for those of you who need a taste of home.
Speaking on the inside, this park is so huge that we didn’t even go inside while we were there! However, I did venture inside just to see what it is like and we did end up eating our final meal there because the outside had closed. The inside is very big, and very humid. I am glad that it did not rain and we were not forced inside. It is very nice, think “Great Wolf Lodge” but there is no way we could have all fit into that space. I can see that during the winter it is a wonderful respite from the cold outside. I seriously considered booking rooms for a weekend of skiing in the winter for Savannah and I while Daddy and Jackson played at the water park, but no rooms available.
All in all, it was a wonderful trip! The drive was about 90 minutes east, the weather held off and was actually perfect, and everyone had a great time. As we were leaving the park, I briefly looked at the prices, just to see how much a full day would cost (we got in free with the chapel). From what I could understand, I believe a full day for an adult would be about 50000 won. Children about 35000 won. Plus you need to include life vest rental, food, and any other items. It could be pretty pricey, especially with a large family but I guarantee you the whole family would have an amazing time. Here is the website for OceanWorld / Vivialdi Ski Resort. http://www.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/SI/SI_EN_3_1_1_1.jsp?cid=266940
For those of you looking for a less-expensive option, the Camp Humphreys water park is fantastic! I also give it 5 stars because of the price (not more than $16 for the whole family), the ease of getting there (especially by post-bus), and how fun it is for the kids. For my kids, it is just enough to keep them entertained for the whole day and I can find a comfortable seat and keep my eye on them while relaxing.
Address: 강원도 홍천군 서면 한치골길 262
1290-14Palbong-ri, Seo-myeon, Hongcheon-gun, Gangwon-do (About 1 hour drive from Jamsil if coming from Seoul)
Price: June 2 – July Day Pass: 60,000 won (adults) 48,000 (children) (10,000won off if you come after 2pm)
July 7 – July 27 Day Pass: 70,000 (adults) 55,000 (children) (10,000won off if you come after 2pm)
Map from the Daemyung Resorts Website