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Thread: Kingdom of Little People

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Kingdom of Little People

    I know what you're thinking, but no, I'm not talking about our Off Topic forum here .

    China now has a dwarf theme park.

    Check out this Spanish-language youtube vid: A human zoo? Chinese all-dwarf themepark

    Kunming Journal
    A Miniature World Magnifies Dwarf Life
    Shiho Fukada for The New York Times
    Published: March 3, 2010

    KUNMING, China — Chen Mingjing’s entrepreneurial instincts vaulted him from a peasant upbringing to undreamed-of wealth, acquired in ventures ranging from making electric meters to investing in real estate. But when he was 44, the allure of making money for money’s sake began to wane. He wanted to run a business that accomplished some good.

    And so last September, Mr. Chen did what any socially aware entrepreneur might do: He opened a theme park of dwarfs, charging tourists about $9 a head to watch dozens of dwarfs in pink tutus perform a slapstick version of “Swan Lake” along with other skits.

    Mr. Chen has big plans for his Kingdom of the Little People. Imagine a $115 million universe in miniature, set amid 13,000 acres of rolling hills and peaceful lakes in southern China’s Yunnan Province, with tiny dogs, tiny fruit trees, a 230-foot-high performance hall that looks like the stump of a prehistoric tree and standard-size guest cabins.

    Also, a black BMW modified to resemble a flying saucer, from which dwarfs will spill forth to begin their performances.

    “It will be like a fairy tale,” Mr. Chen said. “Everything here I have designed myself.”

    The site is far from complete. So far, it mainly consists of the tree, 33 Dr. Seuss-style cottages with crooked chimneys where kingdom residents pretend to live and specially equipped dormitories where they actually reside. But it is already drawing its share of detractors.

    Critics say displaying dwarfs is at best misguided and at worst immoral, a throwback to times when freak shows pandered to people’s morbid curiosity.

    “Are they just going there to look at curious objects?” asked Yu Haibo, who leads a volunteer organization for the disabled in Jilin Province in the northeast.

    “I think it is horrible,” said Gary Arnold, the spokesman for Little People of America Inc., a dwarfism support group based in California. “What is the difference between it and a zoo?” Even the term “dwarf” is offensive to some; his organization prefers “person of short stature.”

    Jean Van Wetter, the China director for Handicap International, a London-based nonprofit organization that helps the disabled, argues that integration diminishes prejudice; isolation reinforces it. “This is the kind of thing you see in China,” he said.

    But there is another view, and Mr. Chen and some of his short-statured workers present it forcefully. One hundred permanently employed dwarfs, they contend, is better than 100 dwarfs scrounging for odd jobs. They insist that the audiences who see the dwarfs sing, dance and perform comic routines leave impressed by their skills and courage.

    Many performers said they enjoyed being part of a community where everyone shares the same challenges, like the height of a sink. “Before, when we were at home, we didn’t know anyone our size. When we hang out together with normal-size people, we can not really do the same things,” said Wu Zhihong, 20. “So I really felt lonely sometimes.”

    Mr. Chen asserts he has won support from no less than the United Nations World Peace Foundation. He displays a certificate designating his company, Yunnan Jiucai Yundie Biotech Ltd., as the “Charity Base Camp” for Kunming, the nearest city.

    Supporters and critics agree on one point: the fact that the park is awash in job applications shows the disturbing dearth of opportunities for the disabled in China. Cao Yu, Mr. Chen’s assistant, says she receives three or four job inquiries a week.

    “Under the current social situation in China, they really will not be able to find a better employment situation,” she said.

    The notion that people with disabilities should be mainstreamed into education and ordinary jobs is still new in China, which is home to an estimated 83 million people with disabilities. The disabled seem strangely absent from the streets of Beijing or Shanghai.

    Better than two in five disabled adults in China are illiterate, according to a 2006 survey by the China Disabled Persons’ Federation, a government agency. The average salary of a disabled worker is less than half that of a non-disabled worker. Only one-third of disabled people who need rehabilitation services have access to them, the survey found.

    Professionals trained to aid the disabled are desperately scarce: Europe has 185 times as many physiotherapists per person as China, according to a 2008 study by Renmin University in Beijing.

    Still, some indicators are improving. The number of disabled people receiving low-income benefits jumped to more than seven million in 2008 from fewer than four million in 2005.

    Nearly three in four children with disabilities attended school in 2008, compared with about three in five just two years earlier. The number of disabled students in universities and technical colleges in 2008 increased by 50 percent over 2006. Still, they amounted to a mere handful, just one out of every 5,000 students.

    “There is a clear instruction from the government to do more,” said Mr. Van Wetter of Handicap International. “The problem is implementation.”

    Mr. Chen said his employees had gained self-respect and self-sufficiency. “It doesn’t really matter to me what other people say,” he said. “The question is whether meeting me has changed their lives.”

    Ms. Wu said it had. Nicknamed Itty Bitty, she is just 3 feet, 9 inches tall. Before Mr. Chen hired her, she developed photos and worked as a telephone operator, jobs she said deliberately kept her out of public view.

    Now, she said, she sometimes see spectators tear up during the performances. If they laugh, she said, it is because the routine is funny, not out of ridicule.

    One theme of the show is the need to overcome hardships — a lesson Mr. Chen says he believes is too often forgotten as Chinese families grow richer. And there is the Swan Lake parody, a crowd pleaser in which male dwarfs dress up in pink tights and tutus and wiggle their derrières.

    “The first time I wore that, I felt really awkward,” said Chen Ruan, 20, who used to collect refuse with his parents. “But then I got up on stage and people liked it. People were applauding and I felt proud.”

    The park, 40 minutes by car from Kunming, is not yet profitable. One recent chilly afternoon, only a few dozen spectators showed up. Performers hope for bigger crowds.

    “At first I thought it was surreal,” Zhang Furong, 38, a lead actor. “But the strongest emotion I felt was here, we are among equals.”

    Xiyun Yang and Li Bibo contributed research.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    well that appears to be a wrong that has gone
    Kung Fu is good for you.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Featured on Nightline last night

    HA! I scooped Nightline. You heard it here first.

    Click the link below for the vid.
    Chinese Flock to Dwarf Theme Park
    Thousands Pay to See Dwarves Breakdance, Pretend to Live in Enchanted Village
    April 12, 2010

    At the newest and hottest theme park in China right now, there are no rides or roller coasters, no cotton candy or games.

    There are just lots and lots of little people.

    Welcome to the Kingdom of the Little People, where more than 100 dwarfs from across the country are paid to sing and dance before a captive audience.

    "There are only three requirements to work here," said owner Cheng Mingjing. "No infectious diseases, no one older than 50 and no one taller than 4 feet 3."
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Holy cats! Shaolin Martial Arts!!


    Anyone here going to Kunming?

    No yellow brick road needed for this 'Dwarf Empire'
    April 14, 2010 5:00 a.m.

    The long and the short of it is simple — this is the world’s only Dwarf Empire and if you’re above 1.5 metres, you’re not coming in.

    But this land of little people in Kunming, in the Chinese province of Yunnan, where little people live in a sanctuary entirely separate from the average-sized world has become an unlikely tourist attraction.

    Everyone at the settlement has their accommodation, healthcare and food taken care of in return for performing musicals and shows for average-sized visitors.

    Their community, set on the Xishan mountain, in which they will allow you into their mushroom-roofed houses to make you cups of coffee and smoke shisha, is a trek up a windy, vertiginous road, but at the top the little people provide a giant welcome.

    You can take in one of the spellbinding musicals in their ramshackle amphitheatre, where performances include ballet, Shaolin martial arts, breakdancing, traditional folk Chinese songs and a dwarf version of U.S. pop act the *****cat Dolls.

    The performances aren’t always note perfect, but the tiny showmen are hard to take your eyes off.

    On arrival you will be greeted by around 100 people in fancy dress —belly dancers, Roman centurions, folk dancers, and dwarf men in top hats rush out to meet you through the mountain fog.

    The community was set up by average-sized businessman Cheng Mingjing, a former electronics salesman who spent millions on building a butterfly park as well as the settlement.
    The settlement is a haven for dwarves who have been abused in the wider world.

    It even has its own parliament, which settles domestic disputes and promotes the regular activities outside the park, and their own national anthem which is sung before each performance.

    No little person — regardless of musical talent — is turned away from the park, if they do not perform they are given maintenance catering, public relations or security roles.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    Dwarf Empire

    You must take the slideshow tour by following the link below.
    World’s strangest theme parks
    These parks attract the curious — and the crazy
    By Charlotte Savino
    updated 7:01 a.m. PT, Thurs., May 13, 2010

    Mickey has one. Dolly Parton has one. Heck, even the Budweiser Clydesdales have theirs. So it should come as no surprise that Jesus has a theme park, too, right?

    The Holy Land Experience may be in Orlando, but Disney World it’s not; thousands visit the park–cum–living museum annually to witness reenactments of the Passion of Christ, the Last Supper, and the Virgin Birth—all set to music. Weird, you say? Not according to the faithful.

    Whatever your interest or taste for fun, chances are there’s a theme park created with you in mind. And Holy Land aside, many of the odder options are located overseas.

    From re-created 19th-century ****ensian towns to an imagination of Buddhist heaven, offbeat theme parks offer insights into culture rarely found from hobnobbing with life-size characters or riding a run-of-the-mill Ferris wheel.

    “Even if you’re seeking out the strange and delicious, theme parks always hold the potential for unique and memorable experiences,” says Gene Jeffers, the executive director of Themed Entertainment Association (TEA), an international organization that represents park creators. More from Travel + Leisure

    If you’ve hit up all the SeaWorlds and Wisconsin Dells of the globe, why not take a trip to a make-believe town populated by little people?

    According to TEA, Asia has the fastest-growing theme-park market—with 77.6 million visitors for Asia’s top 15 parks alone. One of the region’s biggest recent openings was the 2009 blockbuster debut of Dwarf Empire, a hilltop park in southern China devoted to—and almost entirely staffed by—people under four feet tall.

    The park also gained worldwide media coverage for employing many of the country’s height-challenged, who traditionally have had a hard time finding work. Thanks to the park, many of China’s dwarves are now gainfully employed as everything from janitors to crown-wearing empresses.

    Thrill-seeking families might prefer a rendezvous down under with some of the planet’s most majestic (and ferocious) creatures—crocodiles. At Crocosaurus Cove in Darwin, Australia, park-goers can see the reptiles up close in the Cage of Death, or choose to tease and taunt baby crocs the old-fashioned way—with bait.

    So forget the roller coasters, magic castles, and fuzzy rodents, and tour our list of the world’s strangest theme parks—it’s a different kind of small world, after all.
    Here's a good one:
    Suoi Tien Park, Vietnam
    Located on a sacred site, this righteous park is meant to simulate Buddhist heaven. Filled with godlike statues (a one-acre-round giant frog, a 300-ton dragon head), it also features an aquarium, 1,500 crocodiles (symbols of victory) in its Crocodile Kingdom, and a Secrets of the Sorcerers Jungle, where visitors encounter evil ogres, monsters, and larger-than-life scorpions (symbols of transformation).

    Best of the Strange: Unicorn Palace (a.k.a. 18 Gates of Hell) may sound innocuous, but the mythic creatures are actually gatekeepers to the underworld. The freezing dungeon-like complex includes screams, murder tableaux, and repentant tourists.
    Another destination spot:
    Shijingshan Amusement Park, Beijing
    At this trademark-skirting park in western Beijing—where a banner over the entrance proclaims: “Disneyland is too far”—there’s a replica of Sleeping Beauty’s castle (with less sparkle and more Communist-brick realism); live character doppelgangers of Shrek, Donald Duck, and Minnie Mouse; and even a copy of Epcot’s dimpled globe. Opened in 1986, the park caught Disney’s attention for its infringements only in 2007.

    Best of the Strange: The copycatting is not limited to Disney icons; Hello Kitty knockoffs often mingle with Loony Tunes’s Bugs Bunny.
    And of course, our star attraction:
    Dwarf Empire, Kunming, China
    Located on a hilltop in southern China and opened in September 2009, this pint-size park is almost entirely staffed—from entertainers to janitors—by people less than four feet tall. The 100 or so employees live in miniature domed houses and eat on site, but this is no utopia: the for-profit enterprise puts on costumed spectacles (think break dancing, ballet, and gourd instruments) for the hundreds of tourists who flood the place daily.

    Best of the Strange: The small town operates like it is, in fact, an empire, complete with an empress and emperor who oversee the commune’s parliament.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 1970
    Fremont, CA, U.S.A.

    ttt 4 2012

    There's more photos and an 11 min vid if you follow the link.
    By Paul ****erton
    17 Apr 2012 18:15
    Dwarf Empire: The controversial theme park where little people put on shows for tourists

    Twice a day the residents put on costumes and perform a variety show which could involve acrobatics, sport, singing and dancing

    Dressed to impress: Performers ready to put on a show
    Barcroft Media

    These pictures were taken inside the Dwarf Empire, a controversial theme park where more than 100 dwarves live and put on shows for tourists.

    The commune, which is overseen by an emperor, an empress and a parliament, was built in 2009 in Kunming in southwestern China.

    At 10.30am and 3.30pm every day, the residents put on costumes and perform a variety show for visitors, which could involve acrobatics, sport, singing and dancing.

    The residents, who range between two feet and just over four feet in size, are drawn from all across China and live in small mushroom-shaped houses.
    Many Western tourists are said to feel uneasy about visiting the Dwarf Empire, fearing that it is exploitative.

    As Matt Poulter of website eChinacities wrote: "Is Dwarf Empire providing its employees with a legitimate means of earning their living, or is it just exploiting them and cashing in on the fact that they are dwarves?

    "Well, probably a bit of both is our conclusion after visiting."

    But theme park bosses pointed out to Chris Horton of the Go Kunming website that dwarves working at the park are paid better than university graduates in nearby Kunming can command.
    Gene Ching
    Author of Shaolin Trips
    Support our forum by getting your gear at MartialArtSmart

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