The Land of Legends, the biggest leisure and entertainment park in Turkey, opened in Belek, Antalya, in July 2016.

A joint venture by Rixos Hotels, Emaar Properties PJSC and Dragone Productions, The Land of Legends mega-resort combines spectacular architecture with multi-sensory experiences and stage and visual art designs by Franco Dragone.

Cem Tuna, who oversees both the aqua and dry parks, brings a wealth of theme park experience and acumen to The Land of Legends.

Cem Tuna, The Land of Legends

Cem Tuna

He came to Turkey in 2013 to open VIALAND Park, and operated it for five years before leaving to start Land of Legends. Previously, he had spent 25 years in Australia, at Dreamworld and WhiteWater World theme parks, and at Voyages Resort, Ayers Rock.

Tuna says: “Land of Legends is a location, and a vision. It is very special.”

The idea behind the imaginatively themed park, conceived by Franco Dragone; formerly Creative Director with the Cirque du Soleil; is that a meteor fell to earth, spawning a variety of worlds, each rooted in a different legend. The Dragone Gate, dividing the Kingdom Hotel – Turkey’s first hotel specially designed for children – from the park, is a portal to those worlds.

Turkey’s premier holiday destination

Tuna says: “The location is great for a theme park. There is a long summer season, and the vision is to try and become Turkey’s premier holiday destination. It’s all about the kids; all about the families spending quality time together, the shows. Service wise we have a five-star hotel, and a further five hotels in the same area. It’s a strong handed place.

“Belek is a landmark area, and Antalya already has a reputation as a tourism town. There is therefore real potential to grow this market.”

The Land of Legends

The Land of Legends is a multi-phased development, currently comprising hotel, theme park and aqua park. Tuna says:

“The 180,000 m² aqua park is extensive. It has 41 slides, some 22m high, and a total of 70 attraction points; including a spray action multi-level playground, splash pads, eight pools, wave and surf pools, thrill, kiddie and family rides, and a capacity of 7000.”

The Land of  Aqua

The Land of LegendsThe Land of Aqua’s attractions range from the extreme – such as the Typhoon Coaster, which drops guests down 141 feet (43 metre) at speeds reaching over 86 km per hour; or the almost vertical Deep Dive slide – to the relaxing Lazy Floats river.

The adjoining Waterfront Kingdom offers marine animal encounters, boat trips, animal shows and a 30-minute underwater safari.

Leading design firm JRA developed specialised zones for the 280, 000m² waterpark and oversaw its master planning, concept and schematic design.

In addition to its many water attractions, the park is also home to a number of ‘firsts’ for the region.These include “The Magicone” funnel slide and a “SurfStream” standing wave machine from American Wave Machines. Other highlights include kids’ attractions, a lazy-crazy river and a ladies-only area.

Tuna says: “The attractions in the aqua park – the slides, pools, everything – are at least 99% from Polin Waterparks.

“In the dry park, we have a variety of suppliers: Mack Rides, Intamin, Zamperla, and others.”

Rides and experiences for everyone

The parks are separate, but have a common entrance:

The Land of Legends“Everyone who comes to the theme park can also experience the Aqua park without paying extra.”

He adds: “The theme park boasts numerous iconic rides, including thrill and family rides.

“There is the Intamin Typhoon splash coaster, which is very popular, the Sky Fighter – also very popular.

“There is a large adventure section in the middle of the park, with 11 sections of climbing and ropes and adventure activities.

“And then we have the biggest loop Hyper Coaster in the world; which will feature in the Guinness Book of Records in 2019.”

A further two coasters – one designed for children, the other for the whole family – brings the total to four.

Tuna says: “Then we have ten rides for kids, and five for families, where everyone can ride together.”

Using technology to create legendary experiences

Cutting edge technology lifts the spectacular nature of the Land of Legends experience to a new level.

The 5th Dimension waterplexx attraction is a movie theater experience by Kraftwerk Living Technologies. It combines 3-axis moving seats and wind, water, fog, lasers and lighting effects with an aquatic adventure; immersing guests in the multi-dimensional film action – and in water.

Water effects strategically placed around the floor and walls of the waterplexx are enhanced with sequenced integrated LED lighting, and an overhead rain system adds to the fun.

Splash VR is a collaboration between Polin Waterparks and Polymorph Software in France. It creates a simple way to reimagine a waterslide experience without the need for infrastructure alterations.

The Legends of Aqua waterpark is the first waterpark to have incorporated the immersive VR journey into a waterslide.

A VR overlay of a family raft ride transforms the experience into an immersive 3-D journey through the lost city of Atlantis.

Each guest, equipped with a waterproof VR headset that allows a radio wave system to track the user, can ‘explore’ the mythical ruins as the 360 degree action of the virtual experience synchs seamlessly with the real-world twists, turns and spirals of the slide.

The Land of Legends – Turkey’s mini Orlando

The Land of Legends, Galeon

Currently, the majority of visitors are Turkish or Russian, the rest made up from European tourists.

Tuna says: “Phase 1 was aqua, phase 2 was the dry theme park, and now we have a phase 3; which will be an extension of the dry park, coming up. We will start building that in 2020.

“Then, in 2021, we will have phase 4. The dry park is going to be absolutely humongous. That’s the plan.”

Tuna refers to the Land of Legends as ‘a mini-Orlando’.

“We have seven months of summer, but for five months, the region dies. Everything dies. Our vision is to make it like Orlando, so that people come all year round; enjoying the dry park and the hotels in the winter time as well.”

Transforming Antalya into a success story

The Land of Legends

He says: “The plan was initially to have 60% occupancy in the surrounding hotels in the first year, and then to expand on that. It’s still too early to say what the impact will be.

“It will take work, and marketing to make this place a destination park all year round. The city has just so much to offer. However, it stops for five months, it’s very seasonal.

“Nature is beautiful; the winters are mild, and there is snow in the mountains. There are three or four skiing centres around us. Visitors could ski, then come down to the more moderate temperatures of the city.

“This place will also make the coastline and beaches of Antalya very popular; so maybe this will be a real success story.

“It’s a big project. But if we can attract locals and some international visitors in wintertime, we will become Orlando in Turkey.”

Images courtesy of The Land of Legends.