China’s Theme Parks Ride a Boom as Tourists Have Nowhere to Go

China’s Theme Parks Ride a Boom as Tourists Have Nowhere to Go

KUNMING, China—With foreign vacations off limits, China is in the middle of a theme-park boom as domestic tourists seek amusements in their own backyards.

In Wuhan, the epicenter of the initial Covid-19 outbreak, thousands of people packed the Maya Playa Water Park in mid-August for a pool party, banishing memories of the 76 days the city had spent under strict lockdown until early April.

To sustain that uncorked enthusiasm, entry to Wuhan’s Happy Valley theme park, next door to Maya Playa, is free until the end of 2020 as the venue, like many other Chinese parks, seeks to capitalize on the foreign-travel freeze by offering deals to drive up visitor numbers. (The park generates revenue from food, souvenirs and other items.)

At Colorful Yunnan Paradise in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province, the Ferris wheel is decorated with a vast neon peacock, a traditional symbol in Yunnan. One recent day the mostly college-age visitors shrieked as they corkscrewed past the outstretched talons of a giant sculpted eagle while riding the Broad-Winged Snow Eagle Roller Coaster.

Some park visitors said that without coronavirus-related travel restrictions they might never have come.

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