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  • Writer's pictureNik Valcic

Kingdom of the Sun/Cirque du Soleil - Largest theme park in Latin America being built in PV.

You may have noticed a bunch of trees and land being cleared as you drive north right at the Nayarit-Jalisco border. The project is next to the existing Vidanta hotels and is being developed by Vidanta to be the largest theme park in Latin America. Currently the top 10 theme parks are:

10. Parque Plaza Sésamo, Monterrey, Mexico

Located in the northeast of Mexico the Parque Plaza Sésamo presents everything associated with the popular kid’s TV series and then some.

9. Beto Carrero World, Santa Catarina, Brazil

Physically speaking this bad boy is huge and is split into three distinct areas featuring a zoo and over 100 different rides. Different areas, such as: the German Village, the Old West and Pirate’s Island, have some awesome attractions and from medieval jousting to the legendary Firewhip coaster.

8. Parque de la Costa, Tigre, Argentina

The park is set within 35 acres of private land and comprises of over thirty attractions, including: the Saltos del Delta flume ride, the Boomerang roller-coaster and El Desafio which is another coaster that pushes speeds of up to 50 miles per hour.

7. El Salitre Magico, Bogotá, Colombia

Columbia’s second largest theme park is home to more than 30 attractions and regularly invites more than one million visitors per year to enter its hallowed turf. With a total of three roller- coasters, including the 360 degree turns of Banbo.

6. Fantasilandia, Santiago, Chile

Chile’s finest often packs in over one million visitors each year and you can expect to find state-of-the-art ultimate generation attractions including the likes of: Top Spin, Xtreme Fall and Boomerang to name but a few.

5. Parque Mundo Aventura, Bogotá, Colombia

Get ready for loads of rides, events and parades cast over five different sections of parkland which take into consideration everyone from kids and families to those seeking more extreme entertainment.

4. Playcentre, São Paulo, Brazil

Once renowned for pulling in just fewer than one and a half million punters a year, Playcentre in Sao Paulo has since been renovated to focus on children as opposed to the general public.

3. La Feria Chapultepec Mágico, Mexico City, Mexico

With four roller-coasters and ten thrill rides, La Feria Chapultepec Mágico is the second-most popular park in Mexico and boasts annual attendances of over one and a half million.

2. Hopi Hari, São Paulo, Brazil

Situated some 30 clicks from Campinas in Sao Paulo, Hopi Hari has a total of 60 rides and often reaches staggering annual attendances of just under two million. The park itself is split between five different areas: Kaminda Mundi, Mistieri, Infantasia, Liga da Justica and Wild West.

1. Six Flags, Mexico City, Mexico

Smashing the two million annual attendance figure ensures Mexico’s finest theme park rolls in at numero uno and it’s not until you find out that this is the biggest in the whole of Latin America that you begin to realize what you’re dealing with.

The developers estimate between 4 and 5 million visitors per year which is double the number of the current largest park in Latin America. n a new interview with Vidanta's founder, Daniel Chavez Moran, he describes the theme park, which is now being referred to as "The Parks," as follows (paraphrased translation):

The Parks project is of enormous magnitude. In total, there are four parks, occupying an area three times larger than Magic Kingdom. Something we have learned is that a park alone does not generate the synergy that several parks can have together to develop the entire market. We have hired the best park developers in the world, from China, Serbia, and the United States.

The parks are not developed for a hotel, they are made for the destination, as we did with Joyà together with the Cirque du Soleil, to enrich the Riviera Maya. During the first three years of opening of the four parks we calculated to attract between four and five million visitors to the destination.

Over the last year information about this project has been hard to come by and reports were all over the map. Finally there were rumours that the relationship with Cirque du Soleil had been severed. There was definitely something going on behind the scenes. After delving into the issues behind this, I have come to a couple of conclusions. Firstly, it appears that the original theme park idea was for it to be an exclusively Cirque park and to include a "Cirque University" (hold off on the clown school jokes please). Secondly, the Vidanta team were playing up the Cirque concept pretty hard to sell Time Shares. Now, say what you will about Time-Share, but it still exists and it is still a viable product for some vacationers. Thirdly, there seems to have been some kind of a rift and or re-think about the Cirque aspect of the park. As you read in the statement from Vidanta's founder earlier in this post, it's now a "Parks" rather than "Park" operation with Cirque being "One aspect" of the experience. From my perspective that's not a huge issue, even Disney and Epcot are separate experiences. The unnamed author of a recent article in the Mazatlan Tribune laments that his concern is that the folks who purchased Time Share under a different pretence may be getting a raw deal. That is, they were sold on an exclusive Cirque Theme Park and now that's not what is happening. That may in fact be true, but without definitive facts, hard to know exactly. With so little info, we don't know if the new plans call for a better product/option for the Time Share owners than what they were sold on. So what is Vidanta saying? Here is a statement from Vidanta given to Aimfair.com earlier this month:

"Cirque du Soleil has always been—and remains—a very important part of The Parks.

Since we first announced this project, we have decided to greatly expand its size and scale in order to include other mesmerizing, first-of-their-kind developments and immersive experiences to complement the Cirque du Soleil zone. We pride ourselves on delivering far beyond expectations on every new project and initiative we announce, and The Parks is certainly no exception.

The Parks now spans over 830 acres and includes a vast array of 100% original concepts. The goal is to transform Vidanta Nuevo Vallarta into a new kind of destination where guests can experience every possible variation of the perfect vacation—from high-end tropical relaxation to gravity-defying attractions and everything in between—in one extraordinary location. Many of these new experiences are already under construction at the resort. In one section of The Parks, 25 acres of underground tunnels are currently being installed to ensure impeccable park operations and almost 1.3 million square feet of concrete foundations and structures have already been built, including portions of the new resort hotels. Two enormous lakes at the center of The Parks, totalling over 150 acres in size, have already been created with more on the way. And thus far, 1,500 trees have been planted, though once the project is complete, the total is estimated to be over 50,000.

The wonder-filled region of The Parks dedicated to the creative genius of Cirque du Soleil will include a first-of-its-kind thrilling new production—a dazzling, large-scale extravaganza involving acrobatics, theatrics, water performances, music, and even a spectacular dining experience. This monumental new show will be housed in a gorgeous custom theater that will be an awe-inspiring sight in and of itself. Next door, there will be a Cirque Training Studio where guests will get the chance to grab the spotlight, learning tumbling, aerial arts, clowning, and so much more from the modern masters of the circus arts. While in the Cirque du Soleil plaza surrounding the theater and studio, guests should keep an eye open for spontaneous performances as they explore. We’re proud to continue our amazing partnership with Cirque du Soleil and work together on this highly anticipated collaboration so that we can give the world a breathtaking new type of experience unlike anything seen before."

There are many differing opinions on this massive construction project which is happening in conjunction with another Vidanta project "The Estates" which is adjacent to the theme park. I've spoken with several Vidanta employees and insiders and they say the project is full speed ahead with construction going on 24/7 under klieg lights. Another industry insider told me that the initial budget of 1.3 billion is nowhere near enough to build what is shown in the renderings. Certainly the cruise terminal expansion and the recently announced airport expansion are signs that this is where the growth is. We should start to see some real progress in this next year and hopefully some additional updates from the developers.

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