Dwarf Empire

14 May

Can you imagine a theme park where the main (in fact the only) attraction is an eighty-strong troupe of singing and dancing dwarves?

Such a theme park actually exists just outside of Kunming in China’s Yunnan Province, and we were excited to check it out.

Dwarf Empire opened about 12 months ago to showcase the little people employed perform here on a daily basis. So ridiculous is the spectacle of so many midgets dressed as Roman soldiers, fairies and punks that the park has been successful in attracting the confused attention of the international media.

Western media have debated the ethics of such an attraction, questioning whether the Dwarf Empire really empowers dwarves as the non-dwarf owner of the Park has publicaly contended, or if the whole affair merely exploits the vertically challenged?

Prior to visiting the Dwarf Empire this week I had decided that it was probably more an exploitative than empowering institution, and the most un-PC theme park in the modern world, but one I still wanted to see it with my own eyes.

It took us about an hour to get to the park taking local buses from Kunming, and we were lucky to arrive in time for the 11am song and dance spectacular.

Judging from their applause, the hundreds of Chinese tourists in the audience, including several school groups, loved the show and the performers themselves also seemed happy.

We chatted to one dwarf who told us that he used to work in a car-component factory and was making more money at Dwarf Empire than he did in his previous job. He also shared that many dwarfs have partnered up with other dwarfs after relocating to Kunming, which also added to their satisfaction with life.

In one news article I read, a teacher who brought her young students to the Dwarf Empire reported that the excursion helped her class to understand that little people are people too. But I think the small mushroom houses in the park that are presented to visitors as dwarf homes wouldn’t achieve this end and would more likely confuse the kids.

2 Responses to “Dwarf Empire”

  1. Anne May 14, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Sounds like some fascinating social observations! And I like the mountains on your mast head- sooo remote.
    Canberra is fun despite your absence at the moment. 🙂 A

  2. christine May 16, 2010 at 6:38 am #

    Mum was telling us about this last night when we went to a trivia night
    Love Christine

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