Happy Magic Water Park: Reverie and Leisure in Communist China
The Water Cube on Beijing’s Olympic Green is easily one of the most enthralling aquatic centers on the planet. Its bubble-like exterior is almost as recognizable in China as the Mao portrait hanging above the Forbidden City. However, ever since Michael Phelps walked away with eight gold medals in 2008, the Beijing municipal government has struggled to make the complex a commercially viable venture and just recently placed all their hope in an incredibly ornate theme park. The “Happy Magic Water Cube, Beijing Water Cube Water Park,” now dominates the southern end of the structure and caters to an emerging urban elite who can afford the hefty entry price. The water park epitomizes the fantastical escapism so sought after by a burgeoning moneyed class in Beijing. Here one can slip into a state of reverie and forget about the smog-covered skies and endless traffic jams just outside the aqua-blue cellular membrane encasing the Happy Magic Water Park. It is the ultimate leisure playground in a country still coming to grips with profound social inequalities.