Amusement park to open in Cebu-A A +A
By Mia A. Aznar
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
THE lack of entertainment facilities in Cebu has led a businessman to “invest substantially” in an amusement park, which will be open for the holidays.
James Abilla, chief executive officer of St. James Amusement Masters Inc., announced that his company will open the St. James Amusement Park on the FF Cruz property in the Mandaue City reclamation area the weekend before Christmas.
Abilla, who is also behind the St. James premium drinking water, said the one-hectare park will feature five major rides, a marquee show, game booths, a kids’ play area, bazaar and food stalls.
Unlike the neighborhood peryahan that comes to barangays during fiesta celebrations, Abilla assured people that safety and quality are top priority for them and that the foundations of their rides passed international safety standards for amusement parks.
He said European engineers flew in to install the foundations of the rides. He added that while the amusement park is a temporary operation, which will run until the end of February, the foundations are built as if the structures are permanent.
Abilla said he wants to put up a permanent park in the future, but added that the timing has to be right for permanence to be viable.
“We have the sawa factor to consider,” he explained, saying that he prefers to reopen toward the end of next year once again with new rides so that patrons will have something to look forward to during the Christimas holidays and in the run-up to Sinulog and Chinese New Year.
If the market demands it, Abilla said they have a six-month lease on the property and can extend their operations to the summer.
A Cebuano himself, Abilla said between 100 and 200 Cebuanos stand to benefit from jobs the park has to offer.
Asked why he thought of investing in an amusement park, Abilla said a fun place can unite everybody and that it can bring families together.
“I think it’s a good thing. It’s a happy business and the entertainment options here are not that varied. We do have a lot to offer.”
The marquee show will be held twice a night and feature performers choreographed by Val Sandiego. The park layout was designed by Kenneth Cobonpue.
Before deciding to open the park, Abilla said he went around the barrios to check on the carnival fairs that were set up. He noted that many wanted to go there but he felt the structures were not sound.
Some of the park’s featured rides are a swinging pirate ship, flying chairs, a space shuttle, kiddie rail train and bumper cars.
A skateboard park, inflatable zone, 600 square meters of bazaar space and a stage for the marquee show are also among the features of the park.
Abilla declined to disclose the amount invested for the park, only hinting that it was “substantial.”
They plan to open the park by Dec. 23 from noon until midnight. For those who want to hold events at the park, they are also willing to open earlier to accommodate bookings.
Entrance to the park will be at P100 and P150 during the peak season, but Abilla said it comes with a free drink, one ride token, and that the marquee show is free. The park also comes with free wi-fi and features a fireworks show. They are also selling all-day passes for those who want to ride the attractions more than once.
Abilla is also considering opening up the amusement park in neighboring provinces after the Cebu run.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on December 15, 2011.