A sense of magic seems to hang in the air as we make our way towards the enormous castle gateway. I am bouncing up and down with anticipation, unable to contain my excitement. Although no longer a child, this is a childhood dream come true. Today, my friends and I are going to Dream World; a large, Western-style amusement park just outside Bangkok.
We pass through the iron gates and pay our fees, then charge into the park. Upbeat music mixes with my mood, causing me to skip along. I’ve been looking forward to visiting Dream World for some time and I’m not disappointed by what I see. Here, the natural Thai flare for fun and style has been utilised to make the park a true fantasy wonderland.
First stop is the obligatory roller coaster, an elevated orange tangle of track, which loops suddenly and violently, causing its passengers to scream loudly, although I cannot tell whether from delight or terror.
I am reluctant to join the queue but am persuaded by my friends’ enthusiasm and it is not too long before I am strapped firmly in place and making my ascent along the steep track. I have just a few seconds to admire the view of paddy fields and surrounding countryside before I am being whisked violently through a series of sharp turns.
The ride comes to a halt just a couple of minutes later and I climb out, grateful to be on solid ground once more. My friends take one look at the startled expression on my face and burst out laughing. General consensus that day; no more thrill rides.
We wander through a garden full of large cartoon statues including The Flintstones, a hungry shark and a man soaking in a bath full of suds. Just ahead I see the Giant’s House and can’t resist taking a look.
Inside the house everything is blown up to 50 times the usual size, which instantly makes me feel like a small child. There is an enormous giant snoring in a bed and I tiptoe past him as I bravely explore his house.
Everything seems realistic and yet magical at the same time; it feels just like being inside a fairy tale. There is a magic mirror, goose with golden eggs and even large cobwebs with spiders. Fantastic. The best part is that you are free to play with things and climb on them as you choose. For once, there are no barriers.
Perhaps the main attraction is Snow Town and we head there now, my Thai friend impatiently pulling me along. For most Asian people this is a rare opportunity to experience snow, and a room has been specially created with rooms around 0 degrees C.
We are handed a large padded coat each and a pair of rather large wellington boots and waddle our way in to the snow room. Although somewhat smaller than I had imagined, Snow Town is suitably snowy and filled with quaint decorative touches such as model penguins, Eskimos and a colossal snowman.
To one side is a long icy slope and people are queuing up to ride large padded tyres down the slope. Having had plenty of practice at this back home in England, I am happy to watch and throw snowballs at my friends as they reach the bottom.
As we emerge from the winter world, a loud announcement tells us that the Hollywood Action Show is about to start. We settle ourselves on the large wooden benches opposite the stage and the show starts with a bang – literally. The theme of the show is a SWAT team invading a criminal den and is full of stunts and special effects that keep us on the edge of our seats.
After lunch it is time for the Haunted House. Thai people really believe in ghosts, so make sure you take a Thai friend along for maximum enjoyment. As we walk through the darkened corridors my friend is shaking with fear, screaming so loudly and frequently at absolutely nothing that the rest of us can’t help but laugh. We finally emerge from the Haunted House crying with laughter, much to the confusion of the nearby staff.
The next few hours are spent indulging in all that Dream World has to offer. The go-karting track provides the opportunity to race and let off a little steam, while the bumper cars are also a good way to vent unspoken frustrations. Also exciting are the water rides, especially The Super Splash and White Water Rapids, where you can cool down after walking around in the heat.
Finally, evening starts to draw in and it is almost time to leave. Before we go, we all pile into the cable car for an aerial view of Dream World just as the sun is setting.
Information: The park is open daily from 10:00 – 17:00. Entrance to Dream World costs 450 baht for foreigners, which includes most rides, although attractions such as Snow Town and go-karting cost extra.
Most travel agencies offer a package tour that includes transfer to and from your hotel, entrance fee, a guided tour and lunch. The tour costs 1,000 baht and is a pretty good deal.
Alternatively, it is easy to find Dream World on your own. Air-con bus 523 from the northern bus terminal and bus 538 from Victory Monument will take you right there.
The address is: 62 Moo, 1 Rangsit Nakornnayok Road, Km 7 Thanyaburi, Pathumthani.
For a full colour map, go to: http://www.dreamworld-th.com/english/index.php