The archaeological traces lead visitors deeper and deeper into the Lost Valley. Ancient cave paintings hint at the legend of the Valley, which once served as a refuge for animals escaping mankind. The Wildlife Watch Center, operated by a research team, tells the story of the Lost Valley, offering lively insights into the wild animals and their habitats. After arriving in the Valley, the Safari Adventure can begin – a highlight at Everland Resort adventure park. A one-of-a-kind amphibious vehicle takes visitors on a tour through captivating landscapes and past Asian elephants, African lions, giraffes and rhinos.
We began our work designing the 63,000 m2 site in South Korea in 2011. The challenge consisted in developing a concept that would guide 1,200 visitors per hour through the immersive environment and yet still offer them a unique, individualized experience. For the Lost Valley project we developed an emotional story, created a vast and diverse landscape and produced fascinating encounters with wild animals and an unrivalled experience of nature.
Located near the South Korean capital of Seoul, the destination “Everland Resort” is one of the world’s top ten best adventure parks, entertaining 7.5 million visitors a year with its five theme worlds. Coping with this visitor volume represented a major challenge for the Zootopia world in particular. The new Lost Valley immersive environment was designed to reduce the existing safari’s waiting times of up to three to four hours. The largest single project in the theme park’s history opened in April 2013. We began our planning with a story, creating the legend of the fictional Valley and Tau the White Lion and Jum the Elephant. After man lost his respect for and began hunting the animals, Tau and Jum led the animals away to the Lost Valley – an enchanted, wild corner of the earth. Eventually the humans began to reflect on and regret their actions. From then on they lived together in harmony with the animals. In the 1930s, a research team discovered the forgotten Valley and turned it into a wildlife sanctuary. The conservationists are still active today in Lost Valley, operating the Wildlife Watch Center and accompanying visitors on their journey. A challenge for us in designing the site was its narrow point of access. To reduce waiting times it was necessary to design the nearly 400 m-long path to the amphibian vehicle station in an entertaining and educative fashion. The path leads past several attractions – through a cave and a lively group of meerkats – guiding visitors through a lush garden and directly to the Wildlife Watch Center. Once visitors have boarded one of the nine amphibious vehicles specially created for Everland Resort the main attraction can begin: a safari through the animal enclosures. As the driver and a member of the Wildlife Watch Team entertains visitors, the tour proceeds through a bamboo forest and vegetation zones of the African savannah. At a point in the tour the bus departs from the sandy road and drives directly into a river, much to the surprise of visitors. Thrilling shifts in perspective, encounters with bathing elephants and giraffes who stretch their heads through the vehicle’s open windows, transform the Safari into an emotional experience. Only a VIP-tour allows a more direct encounter with the animals, where visitors can feed the rhinoceros. Our design made skilful use of the site by bringing the landscape to the forefront. The stall buildings, the education centre and clinic are located around the site’s perimeter and disappear behind the Temple of Tau’s rock cladding. Only the Wildlife Watch Center, the large bridge and the kiosk stand out architecturally as a result of their indigenous building style.
FACTS AT A GLANCE
Client: Everland Resort
Project: Lost Valley
Services: Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Masterplanning, Concept Design, Schematic Design, Design Development, site supervision), communication, F&B, retail
Planning and construction period: 2011 – 2013
Overall planning area: 63,000 m2
Building foot print: 6,646 m2
Gross floor area: 9,665 m2
Construction costs: 43.6 million USD / approx. 36.5 million EUR
Awards: 2013 Spark Awards, Bronze, in the category ‘Experiential Spaces’