Yongma land opened in 1983 and was an amusement park in Mangu. It’s actually a bit closer to where I use to live instead of where I now live, but is kind out out of the way regardless. For my first year in Korea, before figuring out the ITX I passed Mangu station a lot. It’s been on my to-do list for a long time. It’s not the easiest to get to. Mangu station is the closest station to Yongma land but it’s about 25 minute walk from the station. No buses go directly there so it’s suggested you either try to get closer by bus and walk the rest of the way (which we did) or you take a taxi, which should be about a 6 minute ride for 3,800 won. I highly suggest the taxi if you’re carrying anything heavy or don’t like hills, because the entrance is up a steep hill.
Yongma land is still open…sort of. It’s technically an abandoned amusement park. It closed in 2011, unable to compete with Lotte World which had opened in 1989.
At the entrance you pay a 10,000 won fee to be let in and then do what you want. (They only take cash.) The 10,000 fee is to keep the place at the level it’s at. Allow it to continue to fall apart but not to a super dangerous beyond recognizable level.
When we went, it was quite hot, especially after hiking up the hill, so our first stop was what looked like it was once a concession stand that had vending machines and a huge fan. I thought it was nice that everything was done by the honor system when it came to the concession stand. They sold ice cream and drinks where you dropped off your money and took your own change. Or you could buy something from the vending machines, which I did. Water was a necessity. Then there were a couple tables around where you could sit and enjoy your snack. Mostly we just took in the air from the fan before venturing out.
I’d say the highlight to Yongma Land is probably the carousel. It’s the first thing that you see.
It’s a bit rusty, a bit dirty, and it still moves and creaks when you get on it. But you can still sit on one of the horses or benches for some photos.
I think part of the appeal of Yongma land is the fact that it’s not running. You don’t often get an opportunity to walk through a closed amusement park. You can take pictures with the rides while they’re not running and it’s a different sort of fun then getting to ride them. It’s a little spooky too which makes it fun to go to in October.
Most amusement parks wouldn’t allow for the grass to break through the sidewalks or the weeds to grow so high. They’d repaint or repair the rides so they’re not so creepy looking.
Seats would be repaired and replaced and lights would be fixed. But I personally like the look of abandoned things like this. I like seeing how time has changed things. What has happened over the 8 years of the park being closed.
I also just found it fun to walk around and wander through the grass trying to avoid spiders and grasshoppers.
I think Yongma land is still open because it’s a good place for photography. I saw several people in cosplay milling about getting cool pictures and doing photo-shoots. There were also a lot of couples on dates taking pictures. There’s one spot in particular that’s quite popular. On the other side of the carousel if you walk a little ways away is a square pool of water. It’s man-made. There’s a hose along the edge adding to the water. And there’s a mat to one side.
If you lay down on the mat with your camera flat on the ground on the edge of the pool of water and have the person for the photo sit along the other side of the water on the upper left corner then you get a beautiful picture of them and their reflection in the pool with the carousel in the background. It’s very cool. We spent a ton of time in this area. Mostly due to cats. There’s a surprisingly large amount of cats wandering around the area and we played with them for a very long time before what I assume was a staff member came over and showed us how to pose and take pictures using the reflection pond.
There’s a lot of really cool things they’ve added for photography, there’s a rope swing and various other tricks you can do throughout the park for cool photos. And if you like cats, just keep your eye out, they’re everywhere.
The park itself is quite big. And with a good chunk of our afternoon going into getting there and distracted by playing with cats we didn’t see it all. But we did see a lot and I’m happy with what we saw and the pictures we took.
I’d also suggest being a bit careful when exploring the back part of the lot where a lot of the more overgrown rides are. While this area is cool to see more how nature is overtaking everything and has more of that abandoned vibe, it’s also full of spiders and tall grass. So be extra careful.
A couple things also look a bit newer, like these indoor animal rides which I’ve only begun to see somewhat recently and definitely are not meant for the outdoors. Take my word for it. Don’t touch their fur. They’re super gross.
If you want professional photos there is a professional photographer studio on the grounds and I believe you can even make a reservation. It’s also a popular spot for events, and even weddings have been hosted there.
If for some reason there’s no one at the front gate, there should be a phone number for you to call and they’ll come let you in. Yongma Land is open from about 9am until 7pm. Sometimes they’re open a little bit later and for an extra fee they may turn on the lights for the carousel.