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E-Ticket rides of the Caribbean
Katmandu Park opening soon in Punta Cana
Folks travel to Punta Cana, the renowned tourist destination in the Dominican Republic, for its stunning beaches, gorgeous sunsets, and laid-back tropical vibe. Visitors to the new Falcon’s Resort by Meliá will be able to engage in the usual Caribbean indulgences. But on a whim, they will also have the opportunity to battle sea monsters, engage in blaster duels, and be transported to the Himalayas for a gripping adventure. That’s because Katmandu Park will be a short walk from their hotel room.
Set to debut in early 2023, soon after the all-suites hotel opens in December, Katmandu will be the first Disney-like theme park in the Caribbean. Compared to the major destination parks in Florida and California, however, it will be relatively small. Its developers are promising E-Ticket-level rides, just fewer of them. Katmandu will open with four key attractions.
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The park will be themed to “The Hidden Realms of Katmandu,” a proprietary brand developed by Falcon’s Beyond. Formerly a shop that created attractions and media for third-party parks and other clients, Falcon’s is expanding into the ownership and operation of parks. It is partnering with Meliá Hotels International for the Punta Cana Resort. Falcon’s created the characters and storyline for the first Katmandu Park that opened in 2012 at a Meliá resort in Mallorca, Spain.
Perhaps the most ambitious attraction will be Legend of the Desirata. Incorporating a roving motion base vehicle that is synced with 3-D media (a concept pioneered for The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Universal’s Islands of Adventure), it will send passengers on a journey to Nepal and Katmandu’s mythical Hidden Realm. Voyage of the Fathom Wanderer will be a flying theater (think: Disney’s Soarin’) that will take riders under the ocean where they will encounter a menacing sea creature.
Described as a 4-D interactive theater, Challenge of the Mad Mage will arm guests with blasters for an immersive, large-format experience that will have hints of a video game. The theater’s seats will be tricked out with motion capabilities as well as sensory enhancements such as vibration, poking, and blasts of air and water. EtherQuest will be a walk-through attraction that will feature immersive projection mapping and also incorporate gaming elements.
No roller coasters or other thrill rides are planned for the initial phase of Katmandu Park. But it will include the Wheel of Infinite Wonder, a carousel that will greet guests as they enter the main plaza. There will also be a ropes course, climbing courses, and a Himalayan-themed mini-golf course. Games of chance, an arcade, shops, and eateries will round out the park.
“Through innovative rides and attractions that deliver unmatched and immersive storytelling, guests will truly lose themselves in the Hidden Realms of Katmandu,” Cecil D. Magpuri, CEO of Falcon’s Beyond, says in a press release. “Katmandu Park will offer an extraordinary experience for families and theme park lovers in the premier resort location of Punta Cana.”
Katmandu represents a trend to build smaller parks that can be experienced over the course of a few hours rather than a full day. Peppa Pig Theme Park, which opened adjacent to Legoland Florida earlier this year, is another example. They are less overwhelming, more manageable, not as expensive to build, and do not cost as much to enter as more traditional parks.
Falcon’s has announced plans to open additional Katmandu Parks, including a location in the Canary Islands in 2024 and one in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico in 2025. With mini theme parks as their centerpieces, the company says that their new hotel properties offer “resortainment.”
Falcon’s Punta Cana location, which is being pitched as an upscale, five-star resort, will open with 622 rooms. The oceanside property will also include a water park, multiple restaurants, and a spa. An all-inclusive hotel, the rates will bundle admission to the theme park. In a future phase, the resort will introduce Falcon’s Central, a shopping, dining, and entertainment complex.
What do you think about the trend to build smaller theme parks? Would you want to visit Katmandu Park? What do you find most intriguing about the new park? Would you want to stay at Falcon’s Resort by Meliá?