Japan’s Space World theme park sparked worldwide controversy after it froze 5,000 fish, crabs and other shellfish in the ice of its newest skating rink, aptly-named ‘Freezing Port–Ice Museum’.
On November 12, Space World, a popular theme park in the city of Kitakyushu, south-west Japan, opened its newest attraction – a skating ring embedded with 5,000 frozen fish, crabs and various other shellfish, as well as enlarged photos of larger marine creatures, like stingrays and sharks. It was advertised as the first of its kind in the world, and in the beginning, the reaction of the public was very positive. Space World officials said that since Freezing Port opened two weeks ago, they had an unprecedented number of visitors, but things went south very fast after the bizarre ice rink received coverage on a local TV station, on November 26. Inquiries and criticism started pouring in, and the Space World Facebook page was bombarded with negative comments.
Photo: Frozen World/Twitter
People all over Japan expressed their outrage about the unique ice rink, with most of them calling it cruel and immoral. Apparently, everyone assumed that the fish had been frozen alive to create the new attraction, which Space World insists is completely false. “We purchased fish hauled and sold dead at a market through a dealer,” one official said. “Misunderstanding spread on the Internet that the fish were frozen alive, but that was not the case. We should have explained more.”
But the explanation didn’t seem to appease the outraged public, and the online backlash continued. “You have no soul to plan such an event to begin with,” one person wrote on the Space World Facebook page. “Why is it fun to skate over the frozen? It is shocking that this kind of idea was taken up normally in Japan … This is the worst attraction educationally,” another person added.
Photo: Frozen World/Twitter
By November 27, faced with countless messages about their controversial skating rink, Space World had decided that the only sensible thing to do was to shut down the attraction just two weeks after its inauguration. In an official statement, park officials claimed that Freezing Port was supposed to allow visitors to “have a sense of sliding on the sea,” but also apologized for those who found the ice rink “uncomfortable”. “We deeply apologise to people who felt uncomfortable about the Ice Aquarium event,” the announcement stated. “As a result, we have stopped the event from today.”
Space World has deleted all photos and promotional materials related to the controversial skating rink from its social media pages. To make amends for the error, the theme park has also announced that it will organize a memorial service for the fish next year. Talk about a turn-around…