The theme/water park complex that contains Xetulul and Xocomil is located about an hour west of Xela, near the coastal town of Retalhuleu, Guatemala. The parks are owned and operated by IRTRA, which is owned by a coalition of Guatemalan companies that operate these two parks as a perk for their employees. The employees and their families are treated with free admission to the water park and pay about $8 for 10 rides in the theme park. For non-employees, admission to the theme park is about $25, while admission to the water park is about $13.
We ended up visiting both of the parks about two weeks apart, as a birthday present to Shawn Reece. The first park we visited was Xetulul, which is the very impressive theme park. Upon entering, we noticed that the theming in Xetulul is incredible. Just through the gate, the train station sits elevated above street level. After walking under the train depot, we walked through a small main street type street, which branches off into two sections. The two main sections of the park are themed around Guatemala and Europe. In the Europe section of the park, Germany, France, Italy and England are all represented quite beautifully, while in the Guatemala section, a replica of the Gran Jaguar pyramid at Tikal towers high overhead.
Xetulul is home to two roller coasters. The first coaster we rode was El Choconoy, which is a very large junior coaster. This was the only coaster that Shawn Reece could go on, so we rode it quite a few times. The other coaster at Xetulul is La Avalancha. Being in Guatemala, it is not very well known, but it is quite a coaster and has the second most inversions of any coaster in the world. La Avalancha was a pleasant surprise and Jasmine and I enjoyed it quite a bit. I ended up riding it three times, as Shawn Reece wouldn’t let me go on it anymore, because he felt left out.
Around two in the afternoon, we ended up getting our daily two hour dose of rain. In fact, on this day the rain was much heavier than usual, so we ended up having to sit around and wait it out. Fortunately, when the skies finally cleared, we were able to ride the water ride and a couple of intense flat rides. While they had a couple of decent rides, the story of Xetulul still has to be the theming. There are no flat building facades here, but real buildings that replicate some of the most famous in the world. As far as theming goes, it is on par with the best of any theme park in the United States.
Around two weeks after visiting Xetulul, we went back for a day of fun at the neighboring water park, Xocomil. Once again, we were impressed with the impressive theming at Xocomil. In fact, I would put Xocomil on par with the Disney World water parks with regards to it’s theming. The whole park is themed around the ancient Mayan culture, with a huge pyramid acting as the center hub of the park. All of the water slide towers are also themed with the bright colors and architecture of the Mayan culture.
Speaking of water slides, Shawn Reece was incredibly happy as he was just barely tall enough to go on everything. The park was not very busy at all, so we went on most of the slides a couple of times. They had all of the normal slides and a couple of really great ones that are a bit different from what I have seen before. Add to this, two wave pools and a beautiful lazy river (also with extensive theming) and it is safe to say that Xocomil is a wonderful water park. It is also safe to say that we had a blast!
Being in Xocomil and Xetulul really felt like being in any theme or water park in the United States. In fact, without long lines and with the immaculate scenery, they were nicer than just about every Six Flags park we visited in the US. Also, while much smaller and not really comparable as far as attractions go, Xetulul is almost as nice and clean as Disneyland. I certainly forgot that we were in Guatemala a couple of times while in the park.
In the end, Shawn Reece really enjoyed his birthday present. While we did visit our fair share of theme parks during our time in the US, it was nice to get to one here in Guatemala. La Avalancha is a great coaster and just soaking up the atmosphere in these parks, and seeing how different Americans and Guatemalans are regarding their leisure time was interesting. While we may be different, everyone loves a good time and Xocomil and Xetulul certainly provide that!
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The Coomer Family