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Photo TR: Guatemalan and Costa Rican Parks!


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It's getting harder and harder to find new credits during the cold winter months, so Cheryl and I headed to Central America, specifically, Guatemala and Costa Rica. We had a great time in both places, but Guatemala really is a third-world country, with extensive poverty, terrible roads, and fearsome looking soldiers on patrol. Fortunately, I didn't read the State Department warnings (gang rape, murders, narco-terrorism, highest violent crime rate in Latin America, etc.) until after our trip. Guatemala just elected a new law and order president, so we hope that things improve. Despite all of this, our experiences at the premiere Guatemalan parks, Xetulul and Xocomil, were extremely positive. The IRTRA resort in Retalhuleu is a gem, especially considering its location. We also visited the IRTRA park in Guatemala City, Mundo Petapa. We liked that less, but it's still an impressive facility.

 

We then flew to Costa Rica, which is a somewhat wealthier nation (it helps that military spending = 0), with better tourism infrastructure. After part of a day in the very nice Parque Diversiones in San Jose, we did some very cool adventuring and nature-spotting.

 

First up, Xetulul!

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It's about a 3 hour drive from Guatemala City Airport to the resort town of Retalhuleu. And it's a bad, bone-jarring road, almost all two-lane. We hired a driver because there are bandidos. Seriously.

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IRTRA stands for the Institute for the Recreation of Workers in the Private Sector, and they own the Xetulul-Xocomil theme and water-park resort, as well as other resorts and parks.

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The entrance to the resort hotels is gated and the guard is armed.

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Not what you usually see at theme park resort hotels! The security guard had to call in to make sure we had a reservation, and he took down our license plate info.

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This was our hotel, one of three buildings in a hotel complex called Palajunoj, which is just one of several hotel complexes. It's not Disney, but it's still impressive. The grounds and the theming of the resort are gorgeous.

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This sign advertises the seating assignments for the IRTRA 50th Anniversary New Year's Eve Gala. IRTRA was founded in 1962, and this resort was built in 2002.

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Really nice theming at the pool near our building.

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A mariachi band plays at the tram station before our Dinner/ERT session.

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Our first look at Xetulul.

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Tables set up for dinner. We had a package for the days leading up to NYE, and it included nice events like this one.

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Cheryl's liking the food. The staff at this resort were incredibly friendly and gracious. When you say thank you, they respond "Para servirle", or "in order to serve you."

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This is Avalancha, the 8-inversion Intamin. I'm proud to have this credit, but those old OTS restraints caused skull fractures with every lateral movement.

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Here's a daytime look at Avalancha. Nice looking, with some nice theming.

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Xetulul, Efteling, and Europa-Park are the only non-US parks that have won the Applause Award.

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Friends greet you at the gates of Xetulul.

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Park entrance, yay!

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They're setting up for the NYE Gala.

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El Choconoy is the other credit.

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Cheryl likes this large Zierer Tivoli.

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There's a Disk-O...

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A pirate ship...sorry Larry, I know I'm a shitty park index source.

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Here's the park's money shot.

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And at night.

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Beautiful touches everywhere. I loved the Mayan theming in the Guatemala section.

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Here's the Mayan pyramid without the people, but I chopped the top off.

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They have two jaguars. Native to Guatemala, jaguars are the biggest cats in the Western Hemisphere, and only lions and tigers are larger.

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We did the train ride at Xetulul and it was awesome, like a half hour long. The property was just enormous.

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We saw the IRTRA chopper on the train ride.

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Other themed areas included France...

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...Spain...

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...Italy, and Germany, but I seem not have any pics of Germany. That's where Avalancha is.

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There was a big party for New Years Eve and it was gorgeous.

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Music, dancing...

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Food!

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The place was beautifully lit up. Now, I had mentioned that I was an IAAPA member when I tried to make our hotel reservation (that's a whole other story), and we were told that someone from IRTRA would be sitting near us. We waited for a while, eating at an empty table, feeling a bit awkward.

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Enter Jorge Mario Chajón, Marketing Manager for IRTRA. He and his beautiful family (L-R wife, sister, daughter, and two sons) made us feel most welcome. Wait, I just realized, that's Mario in the rear, dancing with his mom. They were all very very nice to us.

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Awesome New Years fireworks!

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Happy 50th IRTRA!!!

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Mario also treated us to some of El Mejor Rum Del Mundo!

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Thanks for checking out this report. Next up, the best-themed non-Disney waterpark I've every seen, Xocomil!

Edited by milst1
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I always enjoy your reports from exotic locales, Martin. This parks look much nicer than I expected.

 

One of my coworkers is originally from Guatemala and usually goes back a few times each year to visit her family, who live in a "sheltered enclave" of the country. She mentioned to me that it was a lot like Mexico--just "haves" and "have nots."

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Next up, I wanted to show you a gorgeous water park, Xocomil. Most water parks don't have a theme, so it's really cool to see a *themed* water park. Check it out.

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Here's the entrance where we came in.

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And here was a cool display at the other entrance.

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Like the rest of the resort, the settings were lush and immaculately clean and manicured.

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These buildings contained lockers and changing room.

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A fast moving lazy river.

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Sand volleyball.

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Our first big ride was what appears to be a White Water Boomerango. I'd seen photos of these but had never ridden one. Amazing how it's themed.

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I believe this is the name of the slide, but the word is not my Spanish-English dictionary. Whatever, it was a lot of fun.

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This sign on the landings was disconcerting. You can probably figure it out even if you don't speak Spanish.

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Awesome.

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And again, amazing theming, same slide.

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Decent sized water play structure.

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Mayan head with scarlet macaw filling the tipping bucket.

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The lush greenery made it hard to photgraph slides.

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Mat slides.

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Toilet bowl, but everyone was getting stuck.

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The red and blue slide was intertwined with the blue-yellow toilet bowl, and that last drop you see was awesome.

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Large restaurant, camera doesn't capture it.

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Smaller play structure, theming.

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That's the restaurant in the back. I just love this Mayan theming.

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Standard covered and uncovered tube slides.

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Nice lazy river. They also had a couple of tube-less speed slides, but I hurt my back on it (fast water tearing flesh apart) so I guess I forgot to take pics.

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For some unfathomable reason, the shop closed for an inventory and cash count 15 minutes prior to the park's closing. When all the exiting guests are going past the shop. *sigh*

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But overall, we really loved this water park. Highly recommended. And thanks so much for reading this report! Next up: Mundo Petapa in Guatemala City

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Glad you did the water park. So many of our members aren't into them, but they are such an important, HUGE part of the industry. I always find it interesting how, on many of our TPR tours, we'll get people who say they aren't interested in the waterpark ERT, but out of peer pressure end up doing it, and it becomes a highlight of the trip!

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After driving back to Guatemala City, we went to the big inner-city park, also owned by IRTRA, called Mundo Petapa!

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Awesome volcanoes driving back to El Ciudad.

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So it's about US$13 to get in to the park, but I can't remember how much the all you can ride wristband was. I don't think it was too bad.

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Entrance section was nice.

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We saw lots of Zamperla rides in the kiddie section.

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And one of the credits is this Zamperla MotoCoaster.

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I think Zamperla has a good product because of the compact layout, but I prefer the Vekoma Booster Bikes. These are still fun though.

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The other credit was this spinning mouse. One of the ops gaves us a really hard time about sunglasses, even with retainers on. People with regular glasses were't being bothered.

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There were a good many flats. I have no idea what this one is called.

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This DiskO looked extreme.

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Insane elevator lift raft ride.

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Here's the elevator at the top.

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Decent non-S&S air powered drop tower, but we were not happy with the ops. Long unproductive cycles while the line got longer and longer.

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Brinkaguro Kangaroo ride.

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Better shot of the drop tower. Pretty tall. Was worrying about earthquakes.

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Big covered area for games and such.

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Here's that bad queue for the drop tower that formed due to the slow ops. Additionally, the park was getting more crowded as it got later.

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Moving beyond the rides, there was this cool dinosaur play area.

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As well as a zoo, which we did not explore.

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There's also a large public pool.

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Dining area near the pools.

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We didn't ride the powered coaster.

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This was a very cute kids' ride.

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One of those smaller frisbees.

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There was also a theater and some holiday theming.

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Thanks for checking out this report of Guatemala's Mundo Petapa! Next Up: Parque Diversiones in Costa Rica!

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  • 2 weeks later...
Glad you did the water park. So many of our members aren't into them, but they are such an important, HUGE part of the industry. I always find it interesting how, on many of our TPR tours, we'll get people who say they aren't interested in the waterpark ERT, but out of peer pressure end up doing it, and it becomes a highlight of the trip!

 

I'm definitely one that doesn't care for water parks, but I think they are great for the industry. I'm just personally not a fan of water. If done right though, they can be really neat, this one is definitely done right!

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