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Construction at Xcaret’s new theme park near Valladolid shut down

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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.
The new Xibalba theme park by Xcaret covers 250 hectares and is located in the municipality of Yalcobá, near Valladolid. Photo: Courtesy

Construction at Xcaret’s Xibalba theme park in Yucatán has been halted after a surprise inspection by Mexico’s federal environmental agency, Profepa.

Inspectors dispatched from Mexico City allegedly discovered that structural modifications had been made to some of the cenotes, allowing a stronger water flow. 

Safety is a concern after the death of a boy in Xcaret’s Quintana Roo water park in April.

Grupo Xcaret had apparently sought permission to make such modifications and had in fact been in touch with Yucatán’s environmental sustainability agency to help with the paperwork.

It is being widely speculated that the construction shutdown came as the result of a squabble between government agencies over jurisdiction and fees. 

It is unclear how long construction will be interrupted. Grupo Xcaret had hoped to open the park on Nov. 14, in time for Mexico’s most important tourism industry trade show, the Tianguis Turístico.

The shutdown likely came as an embarrassment to Yucatán Gov. Mauricio Vila Dosal. The governor has heavily endorsed the project and talked up its environmental credentials during a visit to the attraction earlier this year. Photo: Courtesy

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The park was initially slated to open in December 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed the official date to December 2021. 

When it opens, Xibalba park will feature a circuit of eight real cenotes connected by an artificial flowing river. Guests wanting to spend the night will have a choice of three themed boutique hotels.

In the Yucatec-Maya language, Xibalba means underworld and is closely associated with caves and cenotes.

Grupo Xcaret is a major player in the Yucatán Peninsula’s tourism and hospitality industry. The company’s Riviera Maya theme parks include Xel-Há, Xenses, Xplor, and their flagship park, Xcaret.

During the past decade and a half, the company has been on a buying spree, purchasing dozens of haciendas and cenotes across the Peninsula.

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