Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Fantasy World: The abandoned fortress

ONE of the most memorable events of my 2018 was discovering a theme park in Southern Luzon that I never knew existed. Aptly called Fantasy World, the 30-hectare theme park in Lemery, Batangas is a kingdom that exists only in fairytales or in Disneyland.

But unlike the happiest place on earth, Fantasy World doesn’t have show tunes playing in the background, character mascots parading around, or food carts overflowing with cheese popcorn and Mickey Mouse-shaped popsicles. It doesn’t have long queues of costumed children and fireworks lighting up the sky at 9 p.m.

Constructed in the early 2000s, Fantasy World was supposed to be the Disneyland of the Philippines. Before it became operational, however, the park’s owner encountered financial problems that prevented the project from being completed. What could have been the happiest place in the Philippines remained an abandoned fortress for many years.

Today, with the developments brought by the park’s new owners, Fantasy World is becoming a favorite destination for both tourists and locals. Although droves of people visit the park everyday, Fantasy World still has traces of the years it spent slumbering on top of a hill.

Set in the Middle Ages, Fantasy World features medieval-themed attractions that awakened my imagination and replayed scenes from stories I’ve read and watched as a child. As I surveyed the courtyard, I imagined King Arthur Pendragon walking through the halls, or the Knights of the Round Table congregating in some secluded room. Behind the castle, I pictured Rapunzel and her golden locks trapped in the tower looming above us. And in the labyrinth of overgrown hedges, I saw the Queen of Hearts and her pack of card-guards running after a terrified Alice.

Fantasy World, with its overlooking views of the Taal Lake, makes a perfect location for films and engagement shoots. I’ve recently learned that Majika, the 2006 GMA fantasy series, was also shot there. Fantastica, a 2018 Metro Manila Film Festival entry that features Vice Ganda, Richard Gutierrez, and Dingdong Dantes, also shot some of its scenes in Fantasy World.

The park, with its towering castle and breathtaking landscapes, makes its visitors fee like royalty. Although the rides are no longer functioning, you can still get a royal experience from touring the courtyard and the castle. In addition to the P100 admission fee, you can pay extra to dress like a king or a royal subject and sit on a throne.

Fantasy World, located at Diokno Highway, Barangay Mayasang, Lemery, Batangas, is only a two-hour ride from Manila.


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