China’s Abandoned ‘Wonderland’

Situated on an area of around 100 acres, and 45 minutes’ drive from the center of Beijing, are the ruins of ‘Wonderland’. Construction stopped more than a decade ago, with developers promoting it as ‘the largest amusement park in Asia’. Funds were withdrawn due to disagreements over property prices with the local government and farmers. So what is left are the skeletal remains of a palace, a castle, and the steel beams of what could have been an indoor playground in the middle of a corn field.

All these structures of rusting steel and decaying cement are another sad example of property development in China involving wasted money, wasted resources and the uprooting of farmers and their families. It is a reflection of the country’s property market which many analysts say the government must keep tightening steps in place. The worry is a massive increase in inflation and a speculative bubble that might burst, considering that property sales contribute to around 10 percent of China’s growth.

Construction work at the park, which was promoted by developers as ‘the largest amusement park in Asia’, stopped around 1998 after funds were withdrawn due to disagreements over property prices with the local government and farmers. With local governments often dependent on land sales to fund payments on a staggering 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) of debt, Beijing worries that a collapsing property market will trigger a wave of defaults that in turn will hit the banks. More worrisome, the property market, which contributes about 10 percent of Chinese growth and drives activity in 50 other sectors, could drag the real economy to a hard landing. (REUTERS / David Gray)

A farmer carries a shovel over his shoulder as he walks through an abandoned building, that was to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, to tend his crops on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

A sign for ‘Wonderland’ adorns an abandoned building that was to be part of the amusement park on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

Footsteps in fresh snow are seen across a walkway leading to the entrance of a derelict amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

A view of a vacant carpark in front of abandoned buildings that were to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

Boarded entrance gates are seen at the front of abandoned buildings that were to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

A building in the shape of a castle stands uncompleted in a field in what would have been an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

A view of abandoned buildings that were to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

Cracks are seen in a carpark in front of abandoned buildings that were to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

A stone covered in fresh snow sits in the ruins of an abandoned building that was to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

Farmers dig a water well in a field that includes an abandoned building that was to be part of an amusement park called ‘Wonderland’, on the outskirts of Beijing December 5, 2011. (REUTERS / David Gray)

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