Wonderland Eurasia finally opened its doors for its inaugural week on Wednesday after nearly 6 years in the making. The park was built to be a symbol of pride for the city and to compete with Disney’s Magic Kingdom; something we have no doubt that they’ll easily be able to do given the sheer size and features of the park.
Wonderland Eurasia encompasses 14 million square feet and offers its guests some truly unforgettable experiences. In addition to some truly wild rides, visitors to the park can also stay close to the grounds in luxury hotel accommodations and watch the view of the rides in action from their hotel balconies. “We didn’t want to put the hotels on the park grounds but we wanted them to be close enough to feel like they were still part of the action,” said park officials.
In addition to a number of ride, there are also tents and outdoor pavilions where visitors can give their feet a rest and watch concerts as well as theatrical productions. The park also puts on animatronic shows as well as top-notch holographic performances so there’s plenty to see. Most of the concerts will take place in May and June, but there is stuff planned for the park year round.
And Wonderland Eurasia isn’t done yet.The park is only in its inaugural phase, there is much, much more being planned for the park’s future and that future looks super bright. “We have a lot planned for the park, this is only the beginning,” said Cem Uzan.
What are some of its features?
Wonderland Eurasia isn’t just a theme park; it’s its own little world. The park stretches a staggering 1.4 square miles or 14 million square feet; 3 times the size of Disneyland’s Magic Kingdom. Given all that room, you’d expect a number of attractions and you’d be right!
There are 26 large-scale rides in operation. These include 14 thrilling roller coaster rides that are sure to please everyone as well as a terrifying 246-foot tower ride. According to park officials, these coasters also have some of the sharpest twists in the world, making them perfect for thrill seekers. With so many rides in play, the park is confident that the waiting lines for attractions will be much, much smaller than they are at other theme parks. The park is also in the works of adding even more attractions over the coming years. “We want to make this park more than just Ankara’s symbol of pride; we want it to be a symbol for all of Turkey as well. And we can easily accomplish that by continuing to expand and improve on the features,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said regarding Wonderland Eurasia.
There are also 2,117 smaller attractions spread throughout the park that are suitable for all ages, making it a great place for the whole family to enjoy. There’s also a 21,000 square foot dinosaur jungle area that’s sure to impress. In this area, you’ll find one of the park’s coolest features: a 229-foot T-Rex. But the thrills don’t stop with the dino’s size either; the T-Rex is animatronic and capable of several realistic movements and sounds. The park is also hoping to submit the T-Rex to the Guinness Book of World Records. If it does make the submission, it would take the cake as the largest of its kind.
In addition to the massive T-Rex, you can also find the world’s second largest fountain within the park. The fountain stretches 394 feet in height and offers guests a stunning photo opp. And if you’re left craving more water, you can check out the canal that runs through the park and showcases reproductions of Turkey’s landmarks. You’ll travel through this winding waterway via boat so it’s a great way to relax your legs after you’ve been on your feet all day.
Alongside the rides and attractions, you’ll also find more than 2 million species of plants and trees throughout the park.
Inclement weather? No problem!
If there’s one thing that can ruin a theme park experience fast, it’s inclement weather. Sudden rainstorms can leave you grounded and confined to covered areas. This means having to share shelter areas with other visitors in hopes of the rain passing, or packing up and calling it a day. Either way, you’re not getting on any rides due to the weather. However, Wonderland Eurasia has accounted for this. Many of their smaller rides are covered, making them perfect for situations like this.
“The last thing anyone wants to do, especially kids, is sit in a gift shop or a covered area watching it rain with nothing to do. It’s so taunting seeing all the rides just sitting there, asking to be rode but you can’t. Many parks have indoor concerts and rides, but the lines for these get super long when rain occurs because they’re few and far between. This is why we wanted to put a lot under tent covers. That way if it’s too hot, cold or wet visitors can still enjoy the rides without any safety concerns,” said park officials.
And as someone who has been to Disneyworld and been caught in the rain, we can assure you that it’s incredibly boring. Taking refuge in a gift shop with hundreds of others and nothing to entertain you but your smart phones and the people around you sucks; especially when there’s so much to see and do outdoors.
Not everyone is happy with the park
The only thing more shocking that the staggering height of that T-Rex is the fact that not everybody is thrilled with the new park. That’s right, a lot of people are actually angry about the park.
Supposedly, the park took more than five years to finish and cost $256 million to complete. The project started nearly 6 years ago and was finalized last year. “That’s a ridiculously long time spent building a park,” said a local. “Not to mention, that’s a big chunk of money. That money could have gone towards other things like fixing roads, repairing slums, and what not. Did we really need a theme park or should we have spent that money on other things?” A lot of people echo this sentiment and are bitter about the amount of money that was poured into the park.
Others worry that it won’t make the money needed to sustain it. “A park that size is going to cost a small fortune to run, operate, and keep up to par. I’m not sure that it’s going to have enough visitors to keep it up and going. It would be a shame to spend that much money on a theme park just to have it fail in a couple of years and get left to rot. Plus if it doesn’t make it, what are they going to do with it? Are they going to demolish it or just let nature reclaim it? I don’t want the eyesore of an abandoned park just sitting there decaying.”
There were also those who simply didn’t like the park for the inconveniences that were sure to come along with it. “We don’t have much tourism, but it’s nice. It gives our city a really homey feel. I’ve seen the TV shows of cities with heavy tourism and I don’t want that for us. It’s great having tourists from the world visit, but it also means that it’s harder to visit your local bakery for lunch and traffic is much, much worse. This new park means that there will be heavy tourism and it’ll be that much more difficult to get to where we’re going.”
More were angry with the amount of space that the park took up. “That’s a lot of space! We could have used that space for hospitals, schools, and wildlife sanctuaries. Instead, forests and open land were demolished to build a theme park. Yeah it’s great and all, but that’s a lot of space that could have been used for better things in my opinion. A park half of the size of Wonderland Eurasia would have been just as good.”
In addition to the people that are aggravated regarding the amount of money and time spent building the park, there are those that are concerned about the park’s safety.
According to the Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects, or TMMOB for short, rust was spotted on the roller coasters and they found some foundation irregularities around some of the attractions. “Rust is definitely a concern when it comes to roller coasters. Not only can this make the ride less than smooth, but it can cause some serious safety issues if the rust eats its way through the metal. Plus, even just a small rust spot can compromise the ride’s integrity. That’s a lot of weight that’s going over a weak point,” said one of the authorities. “Plus, you really don’t expect to see rust on rides that are so new. That sort of thing usually happens a few years in; not right after the doors have opened. So we don’t know if maybe these structures have been in place for so long due to the lengthy construction that they’ve developed rust, or they’ve been properly maintained, or if cheap materials were used. It’s worrisome.”
As far as the foundation irregularities, they’re equally as concerning. “Uneven heights and compromised foundation can definitely affect rides. Not only do they put stress on joints and shift/stretch the ride’s construction, but they can lead to the ride actually falling apart. Weak foundation can do the same.”
However, many of the park officials believe that this is just the media “blowing things out of proportion.”
“All terrain is uneven and we accounted for that when constructing our rides. There’s absolutely no reason why people should be afraid of our rides falling apart. Rust is normal on roller coasters; if you ever got a good look at some of the ones you ride, you’d be shocked! Our coasters are well maintained and were rigorously tested for safety. We would never put people and their families at risk! We hold ourselves to a high safety standard,” said park officials regarding the safety concern allegations.
Can’t stop, won’t stop
However, these concerns didn’t stop 980,000 visitors from coming to the park since its inauguration. This was the first week of its operations and President Erdogan is confident that it will continue to grow in the number of visitors coming. “We believe that Wonderland Eurasia will bring in nine million lira per year in revenue,” he said in an interview. Cem Uzan, the park’s general manager, also supported this claim. “We estimate that we’ll get more than five million visitors to Wonderland Eurasia in our first year alone. That number will only grow over the years.”
Until March 31, entry to the park will be free of charge. Afterwards, visitors will need to pay a minimum of TL 25 (or $4.43 USD) after that date. The park also offers free shuttle services at a number of pick-up points around the city and these are free. They will continue to remain free of charge even after March 31.
With such bold claims but numbers to back it up, we’re reasonably confident that the park will reach those expected numbers in no time flat. Plus the fact that the park is planning on adding even more features and attractions will continue to draw people in for years to come.
The park will also offer employment for over 1,400 people and will greatly contribute to Ankara’s tourism. According to officials, the city’s tourism is extremely low. “Ankara’s been limited to local tourism only. It’ll be nice to open our doors to the world and welcome them in with open arms,” Erdogan said. “It’ll generate a lot of income for Ankara and the park offers some much needed jobs. It’s a good thing all the way around.”
Would you like to visit?
We’d love to know whether or not you intend to or want to visit this park. Given the sheer size of it and the features, we’re definitely interested but the safety concerns have us leery. What do you think about the foundation irregularities and rust that was found on the coasters? Do you think this is just the media blowing things out of proportion or do you think there’s reason for concern? Let us know in the comment section below!