The Hunan Xiangjiang City of Joy, built within a 100-meter-deep deserted pit in Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province, is a giant amusement park that will feature a ski resort. It is expected to be completed in 2019. (Photo: Cui Meng/GT)
A 100-meter deep former mining pit is about to be reopened as an amusement park, in Xiangjiang New District of Changsha, capital of Central China's Hunan Province.
Named the City of Joy, the amusement park is built within the pit, which is 400 meters by 300 meters in area and 100 meters deep.
The Discovery Channel hailed the construction project as one of the nine most difficult in the world.
The park itself is contained in a giant oval-shaped building suspended in the pit, with an appearance similar to Beijing's iconic Bird's Nest stadium.
The project was built by China Construction Fifth Engineering Division Corp (CCFED), which gave the Global Times a sneak preview.
The deserted pit was formed after years of mine blasting.
Gao Weiqiang, the director of the project with the CCFED, told the Global Times the construction of the City of Joy is expected to revitalize the deserted urban area, which used to be an industrial ruin with severe pollution problems.
Seven cement plants, 14 chemical plants, and more than 10 mining companies were shut down since 2008 in the area known as Pingtang.
"This is the first mega-innovative and comprehensive tourist project in Hunan Province. The damaged land will be open to the public with a brand-new look," Gao said.
However, construction of the project was not easy.
Li Lu, the technical manager of the Hunan Xiangjiang City of Joy with the CCFED, said the concept was courageous.
The deep pit brought many technical hindrances. The rock face is steep. There are many complex geological features such as lava flows. An extremely heavy steel structure needs to be built within the deep pit.
"It's not exaggerating to say it is one of the most difficult projects in the world," Li told the Global Times.
Joy Snow Land is one of the five core projects of the playground. It weighs about 200,000 tons and is suspended in the middle of the pit. To do this, technicians use 48 pillars, with a diameter of 4.3 meters each, and 18 shear walls to support the weight.
Snow in the south
In the future, visitors in ski suits indoors will participate in snow sports, while visitors outdoors at the same time will be in bikinis basking in the sun.
China has been striving to promote winter sports in the sub-tropical and tropical south of the country by promoting skating, and building more and more indoor ice arenas, according to a skiing industry report in May.
China has a total of 703 ski resorts, 57 more than in the 2016-17 snow season, mainly located in northern China. Those regions have sufficient snowfall and favorable weather conditions for skiing, the report said, according to Xinhua News Agency.
Hunan Xiangjiang City of Joy is only one of many snow and ice sports entertainment venues in warmer southern China.
People can even find many rinks in the shopping malls in Haikou, capital city of Hainan, a tropical island that is China's southern-most province.
Gao noted that the Hunan Xiangjiang City of Joy will meet the demand to visit a large-scale snow-themed vacation spot in a southern city from local citizens and visitors from nearby provinces, such as Jiangxi, Fujian, and Guizhou provinces.
The City of Joy required an overall investment of 12 billion yuan ($1.7 billion). The majority of the total investment was used to pay fees for house demolition and the resettlement of residents. The construction fee for the project is about 400 million yuan.
The investment will be recouped through annual tickets sales as well as economic benefits brought by employment and industrial upgrading due to the construction, Gao noted.
It is expected to create more than 8,000 direct job positions and 50,000 indirect jobs. The park is expected to attract 15 million annual visitors, generating an annual income of about 3 billion yuan.
The Winter Olympic Games is coming to Beijing in 2022, and winter sports are booming across the country, especially among ordinary people.
Many local governments in other cities in southern China are considering introducing snow-themed tourist attractions to their regions as well, Gao told the Global Times.