It’s as if the whole of China has been given a golden ticket — or the whole of Beijing, anyway. Last week saw the opening of World Chocolate Wonderland, a real-life chocolate theme park housed in the former Olympic stadium.
The wonder is that, Willy Wonka aside, nobody has ever thought of it before (and what else are Olympic hosts supposed to do with all those big old stadiums?). But, in China at least, there’s a very good reason: they’re just not that big on chocolate. ‘We think of chocolate as a 3,000 year-old part of Western culture,’ explained exhibition organisor Sherry Wung. ‘We want to bring it here… We just want to use the Western chocolate culture to create a Chinese symbol. ’
Unsurprisingly then, highlights at the chocolate theme park (made up of 70,000 kg of Belgian chocolate) include suitably patriotic sculptures of the Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall of China. There will also be classes for children to learn how to make chocolate themselves — and try it afterwards.
World Chocolate Wonderland is open until April 2010 (when it gets too warm), and will reopen again in January 2011. No word as yet on who gets to ‘help’ with the leftovers in April.