Alarming News: China's Mechanical Clock Theme Park Closes

No time for fun? Due to an unexpected lack of visitors, operations at the Mechanical Clock Theme Park project in Ganzhou, China have been suspended. According to a report published in the Workers Daily, approximately 450 million yuan ($72 million) had been invested in the project, the original aim of which was to boost tourism in the Ganzhou region by an estimated 13 million yuan ($2.08 million) annually.

Due to the low number of visitors, however, only 300,000 yuan ($48,000) in income was received in the park's inaugural year of operation. It should be mentioned that Ganzhou is hardly some back-of-beyond boondocks, boasting a population of 8,969,900 as of 2009. In any case, once visitors decided the park wasn't worth their time, so to speak, the clock began ticking on a countdown to shutdown.

The “Harmonious Ganzhou Clock Tower”, to use its official name, encompasses a series of parks and facilities spread over 234 acres surrounding the clock tower. The park was built by Ganzhou Expressway Company Limited, who before the first shovel hit the ground in August of 2009 assured Ganzhou municipal authorities they would not need any funds from City Hall. Instead, the company would completely rely on visitor admission and other associated fees to solve any foreseeable funding issues. 

“Clock tower will become a symbol of the future new Ganzhou city landscape,” stated an exceedingly optimistic company spokesman, “and further enhance Ganzhou as a regional center city with a modern image, while promote economic development.” Sounds like a plan!

On the face of things the park certainly looks impressive, especially from a distance, thanks mainly to its 113 meter (370.7 ft) high central clock tower. By comparison, London's iconic Big Ben stands “only” 96 meters (315 ft) tall. Mind you, Big Ben doesn't sit in the middle of a theme park... a three-ring circus, perhaps, if you're one of those not enamored with parliamentary democracy as currently practiced in the Palace of Westminster.

The so-called “sightseeing” tower rises 9 stories into Ganzhou's humid skies and the clock dial spans an impressive 12.8 meters (42 ft) from side to side. Self-correcting technology using GPS ensures accuracy to within 30 seconds per month. The clock is set to chime every half-hour after sunrise with the clang of its struck bells audible over a distance of up to 3 km (1.865 miles). Lord have mercy on anyone living inside that radius... hell's bells indeed.

In the event, Chinese consumers already fed up with watching the clock from 9 to 5 on weekdays were less than thrilled by the prospect of visiting a clock-themed park on their day off and after four long years, the chickens finally came home to roost.

On April 28th, 2014, the Ganzhou City Hall website published an article in response to concerns about the project's financial viability. In a nutshell, the “harmonious clock tower theme park project... did not achieve the expected economic benefits and social benefits.” Therefore, “in line with the principle of seeking truth from facts to stop investment and construction... the limited financial resources (will be heretofore spent on projects) closely related to people's livelihood, to maximize the effectiveness of the use of funds.” So ends a hard-earned economic lesson and, so much for beating the clock. (via and Insurance Information, images via ZOL/dcbbs and Shanghaiist)