If you know my family, then you know we tend to gravitate towards Indigo Mall when looking for some indoor fun, meals, and shopping. It is not necessarily the best shopping mall in Beijing, but it is the best one for us that is only a few kilometers away. Consequently, when we discovered the pile of snow and ice out back last week, we asked around until we got the details for the Indigo Ice & Snow Festival that officially opened Sunday.
Despite fearing a hoard of snow-deprived families arriving for opening day (kids were free and parents half price), the crowd felt more like a bunch of kids playing on a hill in a neighborhood park rather than the typical crush of attendees that these things usually attract. By comparison, the free LEGO activities set up in the atrium had kids working shoulder to shoulder at tables and booths.
The listed entrance fee for the Snow Festival is RMB50 for kids (under 140cm) and RMB100 for adults. However, when you get inside, you need to pay an additional RMB50 an hour to rent an inner tube and the giant ice slide is RMB30 for two rides. Frankly, I found this a tad annoying. Why not just include it in the price so people don’t feel like they are being fleeced? If you don’t pay these additional fees, your kids are basically just watching other people sliding around and having fun as the snow is not that great for other activities. Begrudgingly, I shelled out the extra cash, and patted myself on the back for coming on a day when the entrance fee was reduced. Unfortunately, that is not where my sense of foul play ended.
At one point, I thought my friend indicated that we should return the inner tubes and go down the ice slide. I was just handing the inner tube to the vendor when my friend came running up and said not to return it yet. We apologized to the employee and explained the error and he said that once you hand it in you cannot get it back, even though we still had 30 minutes on our rental time. I may have burned a cultural bridge when I decided to ignored him, took the thing and my ticket stub back, and walked away. Not my finest moment, but I would do it again. Then, when going down the ice slide with my daughter, the ticket taker first tried to say that since there were two of us it counted as two rides. That would be fine if I didn’t already know that other people were riding together and it was being counted as one ride. He quickly said he could let us go again, but it left me feeling like the rules at this “Festival” were arbitrary at best.
Although my daughter and I had fun at the Indigo Ice & Snow Festival, I don’t think we will be returning during Chinese New Year. Somehow, I think our time would be better spent sliding on top of a frozen lake while seated on an ice chair. To me, that is quintessential Beijing thing to do on ice.
To find out more about the Indigo Ice & Snow Festival, call 131 6172 1942 or visit the ticket booth across from Starbucks on the ground floor of Indigo Mall. Go ahead, tell them Grumpy sent you.
Photo by Christopher Lay