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Everything You Need to Know About Ulsan

California Beach in Gyeongju

By Lauren Zink

Gyeongju World’s water-park arm, California Beach, is an oasis on a hot day in South Korea. The admission price depends on the day of the week and time of year. Expect to pay between 40,000 won and 60,000 won, but some tickets include 5 free rides in the neighboring Gyeongju World.

Upon entrance to the park, you will see two kiosks marked “Coin Stand.” You must stop here and pick up a bracelet if you plan to go into any pools or ride any of the rides. The bracelet costs an additional 30,000 won and it works as a debit card throughout your time at California Beach. All purchases can be done through the bar code on the bracelet — including your 5,000 won, required life vest. Even if you are an expert swimmer, you must wear a life vest in California Beach. (Save yourself the embarrassment of wading into the deep end of the wave pool, only to be publicly shamed by the pool’s emcee for not wearing a life vest. Not that I’m speaking from experience or anything. Cough cough.)

Once you’ve got your bracelet, head into the locker rooms and follow the carpet back to the lockers. The locker rooms are two levels, and it is easy to get lost in them if you do not follow the carpets. Here you can stash your clothes and get a wearable, stretchy key to put on your wrist or ankle. Bring change for this step. Then head out into the main park and pick up your life vest from the main stand located inside the entrance.

Congratulations. Now you are ready for your adventure to begin!! There are several water rides to choose from, as well as some loungey pools. As a slow introduction to California Beach, head over to the wave pool and try not to giggle as everyone around you squeals “wooooooo” when the waves lift them. I also recommend what looks like an ordinary lazy river. You are given an inner tube, wade into the water, and wait until they release a tidal wave that propels you — and the people behind you — forward. You will think that they are going to crash on top of you, but that is unlikely. Relax and enjoy the ride. The log ride is also a classic; prepare to get drenched on the ride as well as on the bridge overlooking it. For the adrenaline junkies, head to the single-person, no tube water slide where the floor drops out from underneath you with a heart attack-inducing thud. You will experience a near vertical drop, so it is important to cross your ankles, put your hands behind your head, and keep your head pointed toward your feet to avoid any unwanted skull cracking on the way down. Prepare to scream.

Upon completion of your day, return your life vest for a 1,000 won refund, and walk back to the Coin Stand. Here they will cut off your bracelet and give you any leftover funds you did not use. Don’t forget to bop over to Gyeongju World next door to claim your 5 free rides!

Address: Gyeongsangbuk-do Gyeongju-si

Cheongun-dong 191-5

For more information: 054-1330 (Korean, English, Japanese, Chinese Tourism help line)