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A new park at El Cuyo looks to cash in on Yucatán’s dinosaur obsession

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Private investors are preparing to launch another dinosaur-themed attraction, this time in El Cuyo. Photo: Courtesy

The tiny coastal community of El Cuyo is best known for its tranquil beaches and opportunities for birding. 

But a project led by a company called Cuyo Xplore looks to attract tourism to the area, not to observe birds, but rather their ancient Jurassic relatives.

Over the past few years, several communities in Yucatán — including Mérida, Tizimin, Progreso, and most notably Chicxulub — have launched attractions themed around these prehistoric giants. 

To date, Chicxulub’s new Sendero Jurasico is Yucatán’s largest dinosaur themed attraction, but even more competition is coming. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“We have been planning the project for over seven years now, it will be the largest dino park in all of Mexico,” says Darwin Chay Pech of Cuyo Xplor. 

But given El Cuyo’s distance from any major tourism centers, the feasibility of the project has been called into question. 

There is also the fact that the park appears to be using the logo of the 1993 blockbuster “Jurassic Park,” a decision likely to result in cease-and-desist orders from Universal Pictures.

Earlier: In El Cuyo, residents fight back after a 4-story beach condo is approved

What’s more, residents — who number under 2,000 — have proven very protective of their community when it comes to any large-scale projects.

“It is not that people at El Cuyo dislike visitors or investment, they just want to make sure that newcomers understand that they won’t allow their community to be turned into the next Playa del Carmen,” says Maggie Rosado van der Gracht, former editor of tourist guide Yucatán Today.

The trend to open dinosaur-themed parks in Yucatán was kicked off in earnest by Chicxulub’s Sendero Jurasico which just recently opened. 

The move comes as an attempt to capitalize on the fact that Yucatán was the location struck by a 6.2-mile-wide meteor believed to have killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. 

The Chicxulub crater, with an epicenter just off the coast of the community of the same name, cannot be seen by the naked eye and actually covers roughly half of Yucatán. 

Aside from killing off the dinosaurs, the meteor’s impact is thought to have liquified Yucatán’s limestone crust and given way to the formation of the cenotes for which the region is so famous. 

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