Any tourist not afraid of heights must rejoice! China finally opened the long awaited Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge. Announced in 2012, construction of the skywalk began in late November 2014. Designed by Israeli architect Haim Dotan and constructed by China Railway Major Bridge Reconnaissance and Design Institute, the structure cost nearly $4 million and connects two cliffs in the Tianmenshan National Forest Park, at Chestnut Pass, which is located in the Hunan province. While the bridge is open for tourists without vertigo, construction on additional components of the skywalk will continue through most of 2017. In the meantime, here are seven bizarre facts about the new attraction.
1) Is that a glass bridge in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?
The new glass bridge is the longest and tallest in the world. At a staggering 1,400 feet long and 984 feet high, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge towers above the United States’ Grand Canyon glass walkway. The former record holder is a mere 720 feet above the ground.
2) Cut. Who is the idiot who f*cked up my shot?!
Famed film director James Cameron opposed construction of the bridge. Cameron drew inspiration for the planet Pandora in the movie Avatar from the Tianmenshan National Forest Park. He even filmed scenes in the area. Upon learning about the bridge in 2012, he contacted the Chinese government and asked it to consider locating the skywalk in a less pristine location. Chinese officials obviously did not listen to this plea. This should come as no surprise as they thought the movie was simply Dances with Wolves in space.
3) If you walk on it, you won’t die.
China actually thought about safety during a construction project. Stories about poisonous running tracksand fake rice and eggs cause many to wonder if the Chinese government actually cares about public safety. A series of earlier glass bridges and walkways cracked and scared away tourists, most notably Brave Man’s Bridge in Shinuizhai National Geological Park and the cliff walkway on Yuntai Mountain. As a result, engineers at the Tianmenshan Bridge let people smash some of the triple-pane glass panels with a sledgehammer. While they cracked, they did not shatter. For good measure, they then drove an SUV over the cracked panes to show the bridge’s strength.
4) You can strut its catwalk, if you can open your eyes.
Three fashion shows will take place on the bridge each year. Some of China’s most famous designers, including Masha Ma and Yiqing Yi, will be involved in the first one. Calvin Klein, DKNY, and Armani will also participate.
5) Long, pointy things are not welcome.
One thing you will not see during the fashion shows is stiletto heels. Even with all the durability tests, officials will not take any chances with the 99 glass panes. The harder to enforce ban is on selfie sticks. The Chinese government fears people will fall off the sides while trying to get a perfect shot.
6) Let’s shift into the down, down, downward dog pose.
In addition to annual fashion shows, the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge will host monthly yoga sessions. For those looking forward to the experience, the time to sign up was six months ago. There is already a wait list of over 50,000 people. Two hundred people per day were signing up before the bridge opened.
7) It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing.
If yoga is not your speed and you’re looking for more adventure, a visit to Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is still worth your while. Construction crews are currently building the world’s largest swing, zipline, and bungee jump platforms. When they open in summer 2017, the swing will be over 500 feet long, while the bungee jump will be over 875 feet high.