When we talk about dragons as mythical creatures, we instantly think of China where these huge, bat-winged, fire-breathing, scaly lizard-like reptiles dominate ancient literature.
But in the Philippines, we hardly see these gigantic reptiles making an appearance in our books. Thus, when we visited Magikland in Silay, a city part of the Metropolitan Balocod in Negros, some of our friends were surprised that there’s a dragon in the amusement park, which according to former congressman Albee Benitez, was inspired by mythological creatures of the province.
“It’s the Kanlaon dragon,” Benitez said referring to the main mascot of the park, Bakunawa, the mad dragon who is now friendlier and happier.
“Magikland is based on local folklore and legend. All the things that you see here were inspired by the folktale of Negros,” Benitez added.
Just a 15-minute drive from Bacolod Airport, Magikland is the first theme park concept of its kind in the entire Visayan region. Developed by Aton Land, the amusement park sits at the center of the 24-hectare property development in Sitio Cabug, Barangay Guinhalaran in Silay City. The property development includes the 13.5 hectare Aton Land Tourism Zone, where Magikland is located as well as a commercial and lifestyle center and residential estates.
The theme park had a soft opening in October last year.
“We have plans to expand the park, build more attractions including a huge swimming pool, a hotel, and a convention center. The park is actually part of a big development we have on this side of the city,” the former congressman excitedly shared while we were touring the entertainment complex.
Currently, the five-hectare complex of Magikland has 12 rides -- with The Ferris wheel and The Sky Tower as two of its main attractions -- including small and big rides, play facilities, and edutainment center where visitors can play games, see galleries, and cultural exhibitions.
The Ferris Wheel is Magikland’s highest point, towering at 25 meters. It has 18 open gondolas, which can accommodate six persons each. The trip lasts for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, The Sky Tower provides a thrilling drop and bouncing experience during descent. It can accommodate 12 riders seated around the circular column.
On a brochure handed to us when we visited the park in February, it says that Magikland’s rides are sourced from lead suppliers around the globe — from Europe, Italy, and Asia.
Magikland, which is a member of the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA), is designed and built according to the highest possible safety standards, and is governed by international rules and regulations in the amusement industry. All attractions are solar-powered, too.
Magikland, The Movie
The former congressman of Negros’ 3rd district, apart from being an entrepreneur, is no stranger to show business. He has co-produced a few films with Viva and Reality Entertainment. This time, he’s making a big gamble with a film inspired by Magikland, Theme Park.
Magikland, The Movie, is a family-oriented movie “full of fantasy and action.”
“I wanted a better control of producing films. A movie is a platform where you can be creative. We do a lot of innovation and finding new ways of doing things,” Benites said.
Magikland, The Movie is produced by Benitez with Peque Gallaga and Lore Reyes on board. The film, which is possibly the most expensive local film ever made with a production budget of more than P100 million and took two years to complete, is directed by Christian Acuña.
“It’s a film heavy on graphics. The scenes with human actors were shot in various locations in Tanay and Antipolo in Rizal Province,” Betinez told Manila Standard.
The film, which they plan to submit as an entry to the Metro Manila Film Festival in December, is CGI heavy with 70 percent of the film created by computer-generated graphics and images.
“Our vision was to do a movie so we get to promote the theme park. It’s like hitting two birds with one stone. The theme park was thought of first because we wanted to promote the province. We don’t have nice beaches like Aklan or Cebu, so we are trying to position the province differently,” Benitez carried on.
Magikland casts young actors Miggs Cuaderno as Boy Bakunawa, Elijah Alejo as Mara Marapara, Princess Aliyah Rabara as Kit Kanlaon, and Joshua Eugenio as Pat Patag. The same characters are found in the theme park.
“We hope to take moviemaking in the Philippines a notch higher. I’m very excited about this project because it highlights the skills of Filipino artists,” Benitez ended.
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