A new eco-themed park in Costa Rica? First, we all have to ask the obvious question—will there be velociraptors running around?! Many friends living in Costa Rica are happy with this announcement, hoping for the economy to improve, bringing more jobs to the area. But, just as Jurassic Park wasn’t the best of ideas, is this wise? Here’s what we think.
If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like for the thrills of the discovery channel to life with the gorgeous splendor of the natural environment in the tropical rain forest, then you’ll be excited to know about this new ecological themepark set to be built near Liberia, Costa Rica. If you’re hesitant, you’ll still be interested so that you get all the facts before you make a decision about this new style of eco tourism.
Discovery Adventure Park Planned for 2020
The $1 billion dollar park is set to open in 2020 and will be an ecotourism operation. This leaves us hesitantly optimistic. There is another Discovery-licensed park in China, which opened last year. This park is set to be 2,000 acres and will be constructed near Liberia, Costa Rica which is located in the Guanacaste province of the country. Liberia is a major jet port, the other option being San Jose.
Immediately upon hearing this news, having lived in Costa Rica for a few months on two different occasions in my more youthful college days, I was up in arms. Imagining something Disney-scale and very industrial and superficial coming in, leaving pristine rainforests flattened was enough to make steam roll from reddened ears! Then, upon research, the realization struck: this could be a really GOOD thing. They are going to RUIN paradise!
Ecological Theme Park in Liberia Area
The park is reported to include hotels, restaurants and a waterpark, according to reports out from Discovery Channel media. Costa Rica is already a playground for those seeking scuba diving, hiking, and outdoor adventures. The project states biodiversity and conservation will be at the center of it all.
Hopefully the water sourcing will be responsible, as this is one of the drier regions of the country. When traveling there, a friendly Tico informed me, “Guanacaste is sometimes referred to as the microwave of Costa Rica.” I believed the comparison, sweating while in the shade, telling the kind person in my bleakly conversational Spanish that I hailed from the “icebox” of our nation and it was a big change for me!
Knowing the area (while still ripe with rivers and near the ocean) has water shortage and contamination issues and has as recently as last year reported water rationing and searches for new water sources in the province, it seems like a red flag to build a hydro sink like a water park. Not being an engineer or a hydrologist though, one can only speculate.
Investing in Ecotourism
There are several green travel enthusiasts in our ranks. Many of us have traveled to Costa Rica and have come back gushing about all of the adventure abound and the joy of living La Pura Vida. The project rendering shows hotels which remind the onlooker of some of the nicer establishments in the Orlando area, near Universal and Walt Disney World. The architectural drawings don’t seem to utilize earthscaping or bio-simulant architecture, which would be fitting for the country and the legions of ecolodges which blend into the countryside better than perhaps the Grand Floridian would.
A Park for Millennials in Costa Rica
The announcement just surfaced this week though, so we’ll wait with bated breath and hope for genuine ecotourism and ethical aims to be the heart of the operation. The president of Costa Rica has confirmed the location and Discovery Channel released a statement including goals for people to experience things beyond the TV screen as well as targeting the park at millennial interests.
Furthermore, Discovery Channel media company has hopes for garnering tourists from their viewership of channels like Discovery and Animal Planet. The Chinese park has activities tied to Discovery shows Deadliest Catch and Shark Week programming.
A Future Which is Green?
Costa Rica is an adventure and ecotourism hotspot. According to historic statistics, about 2.66 million visitors went to Costa Rica in 2015. That’s slightly more than half of the country’s population. It’s a big business and the tourists are pouring in. There is a brightside. If you’re worried it could be just another theme park without sound ecological motives: Since the masses want to partake in the adventures, why not focus them in one area?
The average tourist is not likely to schlep into the deep jungle on a long overland hike in search of a Quetzal. They would, however, perhaps ride a chair lift through the canopy near a hotel. By concentrating the masses in search of the vending machine style experiences to check off their bucket lists, it might actually prove to be less impacting on the rest of the country.
Discovery Channel Could Open Minds to Ecotourism
Maybe, just maybe, the easy access tours will give people a taste of the amazing biodiversity within the confines of the resort property. Maybe, just maybe, it will instill in them a greater sense of ecological services and conservation. There is potential to inspire those who were formerly undecided on environmental issues. Little minds and hearts could open to green travel because of a stay at the Discovery branded park. About 40% of tourists to Costa Rica are from the U.S., so we have a big say in how this new development impacts the country. We can choose to drive our tourism dollars to make sure we’re supporting green operations. We can act as classy ambassadors while in Costa Rica, even while staying at an eco theme park.
This project will be of interest to those planning getaways to the friendly, eco-minded country of Costa Rica. We’ll be eager to see in the coming years how it improves the ecotourism experience in the Liberia area. Consequently, as long as an Indominus Rex isn’t released onto the volcanic landscape, this venture could do some real good.