Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park was once the largest amusement park of Hong Kong, and is a source of happy memories for many of the older generation. However, in 1997 its 48 year tenure came to an end, when the government requisitioned the land for public housing. The new "Lai Yuen Super Summer" instalment pays homage to the original park, such as bumper cars, ding-dong boats and even a robotic version of the dearly-loved elephant, Tino. But does it live up to its inspiration?
Dennis Lui & Henry Lui
All sorts of fun and games
Games are the first thing we think of when it comes to amusement parks. One attraction was the Gum Tile game booth. The rules are simple: just land a token on one of the coloured tiles to win a prize. Of course, it's not that easy: if the token touches the edge of the tiles or falls into the hole in the middle, you lose.
The unique game stalls were one of the best parts of Lai Yuen. For example, Mom's Weapon is a game where players must throw feather dusters into a pot to receive prizes, with its name referring to the feather dusters commonly used as method of corporal punishment.
We were impressed by how Lai Yuen manages to take an old, traditional concept, and successfully recreate it with a blend of Hong Kong culture to it, such as the Tsui Wah Spinning Teacups.
But Tino the Elephant stole the show. Formerly the most beloved animal in the old park, Tino passed away in 1989 before the park closed its doors. However, Tino has returned as a robotic replica and you can win prizes by feeding him bananas. The prizes at the park were great, and we found ourselves trying the basketball game again and again just to win the cute plush sheep toys.
The Ding Dong Boats are one of the park's nostalgic rides. Consisting of several boats with bells swung round a circle, they were one of the main highlights of the original park, proving to be very popular with families. Apart from the boats, there were also several other classic attractions, such as the Merry-Go-Round, Crazy Bumper Cars and the Swings.
Julia Cheung and Dennis Lui
The final verdict
Hyped about visiting the new park, we headed out to it with high spirits. It had a retro fairground environment with several interesting attractions reminiscent of the old park, such as the giant Dino. Photo opportunities were everywhere. The Big Dino Slide, Robocon Cakes and the Lai Yuen Castle are just some of the places where you can snap a few quick pictures to share with your friends and boast about your experiences at the amusement park.
The biggest problem we found was that the blazing summer heat made the experience far less enjoyable than it could've been.
However, some of the older visitors we spoke to were not very happy with it.
Mrs Lee brought her two daughters, aged six and eight, to the park. She had visited the original park in Lai Chi Kok when she was a child, and wanted to let her children experience what she had experienced.
Although the new park had some elements that were similar to the original, Lee thought that the park "lacked authenticity", and that it "did not have the same feeling as before". And even though the park had free admission, she felt that the individual attractions were very expensive. The lack of variety of rides was also an issue for her and she said that she would not be returning.