Siam Park. It’s a subject on everyone’s lips. When will it be open? What will it look like? What sort of rides will there be? How much will it cost to get in? Will it be worth the wait?The man with all the answers at his fingertips is general manager Cristoph Keissling who is masterminding the creation of this incredible 50 million euros aquatic theme park, the biggest in Europe and already a world record-breaker.
Interest in Siam Park is phenomenal and for the last year or so, people travelling on the motorway or arriving at Playa de las Américas bus station or the ultra-modern Magma Centre have caught a tantalising glimpse of Thai-style structures.
But it is what you find behind the magnificent entrance building and gates which unlocks the secrets of Siam Park – and after a two hour tour with Cristoph, Tenerife News is able to share them with you.
It is, quite simply, going to be stunning, sensational and out of this world. Let’s try and paint a picture for you. Imagine the best water park you have been to and then super-size everything, including all the rides, pools, shoots and slides. Make them bigger, higher, more spectacular and stomach-churning than anything you have ever encountered in a wondrous water world.
Add a range of uniquely designed buildings, luscious jungle-like vegetation, cascading waterfalls, an imposing plaza, a lazy meandering river with giant bubbles, huge statues of lions, tigers, lizards and elephants, a massive giant’s head glistening with crystals, a Lost City, five restaurants and bars, real alligators and sea lions, a massive pool with record-breaking waves, an amphitheatre, stunning views of the ocean and Gomera….the list is endless.
If you’re getting excited and eager to visit, just imagine how Cristoph feels.
“I cannot wait for the day when we unlock the gates and see the smiles on people’s faces,” he says before admitting: “It’s been a huge privilege but a very emotional journey for me.”
Six years ago, he stood on the edge of a barren baranco and envisaged what a Siam Park could look like below. Today, that dream is nearing reality.
The latest targeted opening date following several delays is December 2007 although there are sceptics around who think it will not be achieved. If you are looking at the park from the road at Costa Adeje, it is easy to understand their stance. It’s not until you enter the massive site that you realise just how much work has been done. Although the land is still covered in debris and dust, it is a hive of activity with some 300 people involved in the construction. It would be even more if Cristoph could find additional labour, particularly electrians, plumbers and carpenters, and he is eager for more tradesmen to come forward.
All the dramatic water rides are in situ (they encompass a total of 28 water slides in all shapes, twists and sizes) and most of the 25 buildings are nearing completion. Much of the exotic foliage was planted several years ago so huge parts of the park are already green and lush.
It seems as though this massive Thai jigsaw is finally coming together – but will it be finished in time?
“As far as I am concerned, we will do everything within our power to get it ready by the end of this year,” says Cristoph whose family own and developed Loro Parque which also has a Thai village entrance.
Certainly, the official inauguration day is still set for December 17 which is the date Loro Parque also opened but if the park is not ready for the public by then, it would surely take just a few more weeks to reveal all to the many thousands of visitors expected to flock in day after day. Cristoph’s minimum estimate is for 600,000 visitors in the first year alone; any more would be a bonus. It will be open every day from 10am to 6pm and probably later into the evening during the summer months.
As we tour the park, Cristoph takes us up to the most spectacular and thrilling ride you can imagine, The Tower of Power which only the very brave will tackle! We have clambered up a muddy hill to get to the top but when it is ready, access will be via 235 steps so you will need to be fit in the first place. It will certainly help to cut out any queues although Cristoph does not expect people to have to form long lines to enjoy the rides. Each has a huge capacity per hour and you do not have to pay separately for each ride – the admission price is all inclusive, except for your drinks and food, of course.
So just what will people be paying at the gate? Cristoph says the admission fee has already been set but does not wish to make it public yet. All we can say is that it is a hugely competitive rate, one you will certainly not begrudge paying and one which compares very favourably with other Tenerife attractions. There will also be a joint package for both Siam Park and Loro Parque.
The price of refreshments is not going to be extortionate either and although the whole park is Thai-themed with Thai architecture and decorations, you will still be able to buy a burger or a chicken sandwich. Likewise, the sun beds and umbrellas around the main pool – heated to a beautiful 25 degrees we should add – will be free of charge but get in early will be the message.
One thing you won’t find in Siam Park however is any Buddha statues. Out of respect to the Thai Royal family, the Keisslings asked if they could use the name Siam Park and there were no objections at all. However, they were requested not to copy any of the Royal palaces or Thai temples and esteemed Thai architect, Dr Ruthai happily obliged.
The Thai Royal family has kept in touch with the progress of the project and are as fascinated as we are here on Tenerife. The Thai Queen is sent regular updates and pictures on the internet and when I ask Cristoph if they are likely to be at the opening, he smiles secretly and says “I am sure someone will be here.”
They, like us, will be intrigued by the fantastic water rides which have wonderful names such as the Giant where you spin round and round in a powerful twin cyclone, the Volcano which features a spectacular laser show and dancing dragon, the Jungle Snake with its twists and turns and the gravity-defying Dragon which has a huge creature wrapped around its massive cone to resemble gaping jaws. But it is the Tower of Power which will take your breath away most of all. From the departure point up those 235 steps, your kamikaze-style ride includes a record drop of 28m (the second highest plunge in the world) before the slide eventually passes through a clear acrylic pipe right through the heart of the alligator pool and aquarium before coming out to sanity on the other side.
All the rides at Siam Park will be unique as each has been especially adapted by experts but as Cristoph stresses, they are 100 per cent safe and constructed to the very highest of standards. Some have been crafted into the rocks, giving an Indiana Jones atmosphere.
Height restrictions will apply but there will be rides galore for all ages to enjoy. There is a Naga Racer with six lanes, several water ride areas for children such as The Lost City and a smaller version for the very very young, a tea house, beach bar, floating market consisting of Thai houses built on stilts and surrounded by water, full changing facilities, shops and Thai massage and that Slow River on which you and your family can ride around the park, even passing through a cave, around islands and travelling up a hill on a conveyor belt.
The fantastic wave pool will feature a record-breaking 3m high wave and, as it is suitable for surfers, championships will be held here and there will be a Surfing School where people can achieve their certificates. Its fame is already spreading around the world, including to the Maldives and America.
This has been a truly international project with Cristoph having sourced materials from all over the world and visiting Thailand on many occasions for inspiration. There are 600,000 ceramic roof tiles from Thailand, sand from Portugal, decorative items from Vietnam, pumps from Italy, chairs from China and the rides have been made by specialist companies from as far afield as Canada and Scotland.
Similarly, there will be an international team at Siam Park when it opens, speaking a range of languages. There will be between 200 and 250 jobs here and recruitment will start shortly.
Cristoph is also proud that the Park is eco-friendly. It has the first natural gas plant in the Canaries which will very significantly cut carbon emissions and will use salt water taken from the sea with its own desalination plant. The water will later be re-used to keep the trees and plants green.
Cristoph is very modest when we suggest that Siam Park could totally revitalize the fortunes of the south of Tenerife. He concedes that, together with the Magma Centre, it will give the entrance to the south an entirely new look but says the island should never be afraid of the periodic dips in tourism numbers as it has so much to offer, not least the beautiful weather and fantastic scenery.
There is room to expand at Siam Park (perhaps a roller-coaster for the future?) but Cristoph says that is for the years ahead as all efforts must be put into making the first phase an outstanding success. He intends to listen to what his customers say and react accordingly – his reward will be to see those smiles at the entrance gate echoed by even broader smiles as people leave after a wonderful day out at Siam Park.
Source: Tenerife News by Rita Sobot