China’s Zhangjiajie National Forest Park and the World’s Tallest Elevator

Editor’s Note – Monthly Ticket is a CNN Travel series that sheds light on some of the most fascinating topics in the world of travel. September’s theme is ‘Build it Big’, as we share the stories behind some of the world’s most impressive engineering feats.
(CNN) — The world’s tallest outdoor elevator may be two decades old, but it’s still just as popular, offering a quick and effortless view of a national park that many say inspired the incredible scenery in the movie ‘Avatar’ of 2009.

Zhangjiajie National Forest Park in Hunan, China, is famous for its towering pillar-like karst formations and bears a striking resemblance to the floating landscape of the alien world of Pandora, which plays a prominent role in the film.

The 326-meter-high Bailong Glass Lift was built into the side of a cliff in the national park and offers stunning views of the karst formations.

It consists of three double-decker elevators, each of which can carry up to 46 visitors up the mountain in less than two minutes each way.

The elevator serves as a gateway to some of the park’s top attractions, including the Golden Whip Stream, Tianzi Mountain, and views of the South Pillar of Heaven – which was later renamed “Hallelujah Mountain” in honor of the floating mountains of the “Avatar” director James Cameron. .

Alternatively, visitors can climb the mountain, which takes around 2.5 hours.

Completed in 2002 with a hefty price tag of 180 million RMB ($26 million), the lift has not always been celebrated. Local experts and scholars initially criticized the project, saying construction of the Bailong Elevator, which began in 1999, had damaged the natural landscape.

Some 20 years after its opening, the Bailong Elevator has proven to be one of the park’s most popular attractions, carrying more than 60 million tourists over the past two decades.

This feature was first released in 2020. It was updated in September 2022.

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