Culture

This Día De Muertos Themed Amusement Park Is Next Level ‘Coco’ And I Want To Go

Just like a scene in the movie Coco, imagine neon lights, skulls, candy, cempasúchil, Catrinas and Catrines, ofrendas and lots of rides and rollercoasters. Day of The Dead is a huge celebration, and some think that it shouldn’t be exclusive to cemeteries and plazas. This vision of a Mexican-insired ‘inframundo’ is actually a real theme park in Mexico. Here’s everything you need to know about Calaverandia. 

‘Calaverandia’ takes visitors through an immersive experience inspired by the ancient Aztec’s take on the underworld.

Like a tour of the underworld, Calaverandia, is a theme park that takes visitors through the Aztec netherworld of Mictlan. The park is open to visitors this year again, after its initial inaugural run in 2018.  “We’re very proud that Calaverandia was a success last year,” said the park’s creative director, Marcos Jiménez. “We have big plans for growth.”

Located in Jalisco, the Day of The Dead theme park is packed with ofrendas, rides and music.

Located in Guadalajara —a city known for tequila and mariachi music— this year’s Day of the Dead theme park Calaverandia will feature over 30 attractions, including immersive tours through the underworld, exhibitions of altars and decorated skulls, live music, a neon lights area, ball pits and more.

The park’s main showpiece ‘El Inframundo’, or The Underworld, was expanded 50% over last year due to its success.

The immersive experience takes visitors through the Aztec netherworld of Mictlán. In Aztec and Mayan mythology, the underworld (Xibalba for the Mayams and Mictlan for the Aztecs) played an important role in everyday life. According to these ancient peoples’ beliefs, death was closely incorporated into the world of the living and death is evident in almost every aspect of Aztec and Mayan philosophy, culture and tradition.

According to ancient Aztec mythology; after death, souls had to endure a long journey through Mictlan.

Mictlantecuhtli is the Aztec god of the dead, and next to his wife, Mictecacíhuatl, he ruled Mictlan, the underworld. According to their beliefs, Mictlan consists of nine distinct levels. The journey from the first level to the ninth is difficult and would take four years to complete. The dead must overcome many challenges, but the gods bestowed them with a guide, the psychopomp Xolotl — a Xoloiscuintle dog, who got his own role in Disney’s Coco as Dante.

‘Calaverandia’ is an adventure-filled ‘skull land’ that takes visitors through Mictlan-worthy journeys across the netherworld.

The theme park features a 4-D show called Alma, which will tell the ancient history of the Day of the Dead traditions. There will also be a seven-meter-tall alebrije statue, photography areas, themed characters, videomapping and Catrina shows, canoe tours and cultural games for the kids. The interactive cemetery has also been expanded to include activities for children, and there will be lots of traditional Mexican delights in the food court.

To top off the experience, there will be mariachi and lots of traditional Mexican food.

A mariachi band will play traditional songs every hour at the park’s main altar to the dead, and will perform tributes to famous Mexican singers who have now passed away, such as Juan Gabriel —and more recently, José José.

‘Calaverandia’ has been well-received by the public and organizers are expecting a surge in attendance this year.

Last year’s park saw around 3,000 visitors a day — about 40,000 in total, but the organizers are expecting that number to rise to 4,000 daily visitors this year, so they have extended the hours park’s opening hours of from 7:00pm-12:00am Sunday to Thursday, and 7:00pm-1:00am on Saturday.

Calaverandia will run from Friday, October 25 to Monday, November 18 —the only Monday on which it will open. Tickets cost 255 pesos (US $13) for children and 595 pesos for adults; VIP options are available.

The park might be coming to LA in the near future.

After being received with such positive feedback from visitors and seeing the park’s growing popularity in Guadalajara, ‘Calaverandia’ creators have big plans for the years ahead. “We’ve been asked to organize a Calaverandia in Los Angeles in 2021, and we have spoken with people in Chicago and even Madrid,” said the park’s creative director, Marcos Jiménez. “We’re in a really cool process of growth.”

Throwback: Remember When Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos?

Entertainment

Throwback: Remember When Disney Tried To Trademark Día de los Muertos?

shot_by_prum_ty / Instagram

Since Disney Plus launched on November 12, people have been swept up in all the family-friendly chaos, indulging in a long list of classic Disney favorites. While the streaming service also plans to offer new original content, the company is definitely taking advantage of our generation’s lust for nostalgia, providing exclusive access to the Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic franchises (and reminding us how much Disney dominated our youth with films like The Lion King, The Cheetah Girls, and Gotta Kick It Up). Honestly, the list of iconic feel-good films is outrageously long, and it’s easy to understand why everyone’s so excited.

But it’s no secret that Disney’s wholesome image has been blemished by a long, varied history of controversy and criticism. While Disney has been accused of sexism and plagiarism numerous times, one of the most notable topics of discussion in recent years has been the company’s tendency to racially stereotype its characters, a propensity that is  especially notable in early Disney films (though many scholars and film critics argue that this has carried into the 21st century, despite Disney’s attempts to be more culturally sensitive).

On many occasions, Disney has acknowledged the racist nature of its older animated films, like Dumbo, The Jungle Book, and The Aristocats. In the descriptions for several programs on Disney Plus, there is a brief warning about the “outdated cultural stereotypes” contained within each film, and while several people view this disclaimer as a sign of progress, Disney has been criticized for making a bare minimum effort toward addressing the problematic elements of its past.

And speaking of the company’s past, how could we forget the time that Disney tried to trademark the term “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead”?

Credit: Pinterest / The Walt Disney Company

Back in 2013, Disney approached the US Patent and Trademark Office with a request to secure “Día de los Muertos” / “Day of the Dead” across many different platforms. At the time, an upcoming Pixar movie with a Día de los Muertos theme (read: the early stirrings of Coco) was in the works, and Disney wanted to print the phrase on a wide range of products, from fruit snacks to toys to cosmetics. Por supuesto, Disney received major backlash for trying to trademark the name of a holiday—what is more culturally appropriative than claiming ownership over an entire celebration? Especially one with indigenous roots?

“The trademark intended to protect any potential title of the movie or related activity,” a spokeswoman for Disney told CNNMexico at the time. “Since then, it has been determined that the title of the film will change, and therefore we are withdrawing our application for trademark registration.”

But prior to withdrawing their application, Disney received extensive backlash from the Latnix community. Latinos all over social media expressed their disdain for Disney’s bold and offensive attempt to take ownership of the holiday’s name, even starting a petition on Change.org to halt the whole process. Within just a few days, the petition had garnered 21,000 signatures.

Although Disney didn’t acknowledge whether the online uproar had influenced them to retract their trademark request, they were clearly paying attention. Lalo Alcaraz, a Mexican-American editorial cartoonist, had expressed open disdain at what he called Disney’s “blunder,” creating “Muerto Mouse”—a cartoon criticizing said blunder—in response.

Credit: Lalo Alcaraz / Pocho.com

This wasn’t the first time Alcaraz had criticized Disney with his cartoons. After the trademark fiasco, Disney definitely caught wind of Alcaraz’s position, and in an effort to approach the upcoming Día de los Muertos movie with sensitivity, the company hired him to work as a cultural consultant on the film.

Although several folks celebrated this development, Alcaraz was widely denounced for collaborating with Disney—many people called him a “vendido,” accusing him of hypocritically selling out to the gringo-run monolith against which he had previously spoken out. But Alcaraz stood his ground, confident that his perspective would lend valuable influence to the movie and ultimately prevent Pixar from doing the Latinx community a disservice.

“Instead of suing me, I got Pixar to give me money to help them and do this project right,” Alcaraz said. “I was let down because I was hoping people would give me a little bit of credit for the stuff I’ve done; to give me the benefit of the doubt.”

And, sin duda, Coco emerged as one of the most culturally accurate films that Disney has ever produced. Employing an almost exclusively Latino cast and crew, Coco seamlessly captured the beauty, magic, and wonder of Día de los Muertos, depicting the holiday with reverence and respect. And after becoming the top-grossing film of all time in Mexico, it’s safe to say that Coco helped Disney bounce back from its trademark mishap, even if more controversy is bound to emerge in the future.

This Navidad Theme Park Features ‘Las Posadas’ And ‘Reyes Magos’ And I Want To Go

Things That Matter

This Navidad Theme Park Features ‘Las Posadas’ And ‘Reyes Magos’ And I Want To Go

Navidalia

It looks like the people of Guadalajara love a theme-park. Earlier this month the capital city of Jalisco, hosted the ‘Dia de Muertos’ themed amusement park; ‘Calaverandia’. And now, from the same creators, we‘re getting  ‘Navidalia’ a Christmas-themed amusement park full of lights, fake snow and vibrant shows.

The park will be divided into four Yuletide-inspired worlds, the flagship of which will be that of Mexican Christmas traditions.

Much like Disneyland, which is divided into kingdoms, the Mexican Christmas-themed park will be divided into four Yuletide-inspired worlds, the flagship of which will be that of Mexican Christmas traditions, called “Posada Navideña”. Another world will be dedicated to the holiday’s Nordic origins.

Attendees will be able to see a recreation of baby Jesus’s birthplace in Bethlehem.

Naturally, for a predominantly Catholic country, one of the worlds will recreate the Middle Eastern atmosphere of Jesus’s birth in Bethlehem, this section of the park will also include a show featuring the three wise men, known in Mexico as “Los Reyes Magos.” The fourth world will celebrate European Christmas traditions.

It wouldn’t be a Mexican Christmas without a ‘Nacimiento’.

A standout display will be a giant nativity scene, in which the spectators will also be part of the decorations. There will also be a giant Christmas tree, an ice road (not rink) for ice skating around the park, a large lake in the park will be used for boat rides and dance presentations. The organizers spared no efforts to get the best artificial snow. They said in an interview with a Mexican newspaper that they hope that the artificial snow will help kindle the Christmas spirit in the hearts of visitors.

‘Navidalia’s parent company has also produced other theme parks and events like ‘Calaverandia’.

In addition to Calaverandia, the Day of The Dead theme park, Alteacorp —the parks’ parent company— has also organized Festival GDLuz, which lights up Guadalajara in an array of bright colors in February. The company hopes to repeat the success of those festivals with Navidalia in December.

Alteacorp CEO Marcos Jiménez said that the group wanted to offer something different from stereotypical U.S. Christmas celebrations. Instead, they chose to focus on creating multisensorial journeys dominated by images of a very Mexican-infused Christmas.

Such imagery and customs will include traditional lanterns, piñatas, warm fruit ponche, the sweet fried snacks called buñuelos and the Latin American Christmas observance of Las Posadas. Other attractions will include an 18m tall Piñata which will offer a light show, 8 meter tall ‘Reyes Magos’, a medieval Santa Clause and 30 other attractions spread across the 4.5 acres that make the theme park grounds.

Visitors must buy a ticket to take part in the park’s attractions at night, but the grounds will be open to the public free of charge during the day. Tickets cost 255 pesos (US $13) for children and 495 pesos (US $26) for adults. VIP tickets cost 685 and 1,999 pesos respectively. Discounted presale tickets will be on sale until November 18. Navidalia runs from December 13-25 at Parque Ávila Camacho in Zapopan.