Dwarf Empire seems like the most exploitative amusement park on earth. Yet despite the political incorrectness of this modern day "freakshow," it offers its little people a chance to start over in a safe, decent environment.
Comprised of tiny mushroom-like castles, almost 100 dwarves live and work in the Empire. Twice a day, they entertain tourists with songs and live performances, along with a special speech from the "king" of the dwarf village. Each performance begins with an appearance by his majesty, in which the sunglass-wearing king waves to the crowd in a flowing yellow coat, printed with colorful mushrooms. The park’s dwarves range in height from a little over two-feet to just over four-feet, and each has a unique part to play, from caped guards with fake swords to acrobats.
While some sources report that the Empire was a dwarf colony that was later turned into a theme park, this is incorrect. The park is in fact solely a business venture that lured dwarves from across the country with the promise of a better life. Although the park seems to take advantage of these little people, each earns $147/month with guaranteed housing, which is much better than what most people in the region are making.
Besides their wages, the dwarves are also offered counseling and extracurricular activities. A stark contrast to their former lives, since most of them used to live in the streets. Since life is fairly good at the Empire, the owners have plans to expand, creating an army of sorts, featuring 800-1000 dwarves from across China.
Know Before You Go
40 kilometers southwest of Kunming