Who would ever think that amusement parks are the best places for a private guide to assist you? Especially when traveling as a single parent! Parks in Guatemala are abundant, home to many reserves too, but this amusement park will surprise you!
Well that is exactly when I truly valued the private guide that INGUAT, Instituto Guatemalteco de Turismo (Guatemala’s Tourism Board and Institue), helped me set up – Norman from Turismo Chapin.
When traveling with two boys one ten years old and the other four, even though they get along great for the most part, the age difference really comes alive when at an amusement park.
My ten year old wanted to hit all the largest, scariest rides. While my four year old was really content in riding the horsey around the carousel or doing little kiddie rides.
So what to do with an older boy who is roller coaster happy? Norman to the rescue, that’s what.
First of all, Norman was just one of those guys that you immediately click with. And this was truly evident when my four year old started to hold his hand when we were at different attractions during the two day trip. He never does this.
And my oldest son immediately took a liking to him too, because Norman was like a big kid, he was enjoying all the stuff we were doing as much as the kids. Participating in all the games and everything.
So when it came time to go on roller coasters, there wasn’t an any better choice than Norman for my oldest.
And they had a blast!
What is IRTRA Guatemala?
IRTRA is known to be the best amusement park in all of Central America. They have several properties, but the biggest one (considered to be the Disney of Central America) is located about two hours outside of Guatemala City.
But you don’t have to drive two hours to enjoy a fun-filled day at an amusement park.
IRTRA Petapa is located right in the heart of Guatemala City.
Information about IRTRA Petapa Guatemala
- The park opened in 1976.
- It has a capacity for 12,000 people
- It is divided into six areas:
- Plaza Estrellas – With a theater, lockers, carriage rental and a souvenir shop.
- Plaza Arcoiris – With Food stalls, arcade games, and 14 rides for small kids.
- Plaza Divertia – With arcade games, rides for older kids and adults, a souvenir show and two restaurants.
- Valle de los Dinos – This is a playground with the representation of large dinosaurs.
- Social Area – In here you will find an Olympic pool and a smaller one for kids, a coffee shop and a space where events like birthdays can be held.
- Zoologico la Jungla – This is a small zoo with 24 species of mammals and 11 species of reptiles. There is also an aviary that you can walk into and hang out with up to 400 birds.
Interestingly enough, IRTRA was originally formed out of good intention to allow lower class income levels to visit and enjoy the park at huge discounts. Every single day there are free days for different regions of the country. And if you go to the big park which requires two days, the hotel/resort is hugely discounted for people who are in certain economic brackets.
Story Behind IRTRA
- Its objective was to provide workers from the private sector and their families with adequate spaces for their recreation.
- The idea of creating such a place was born in 1960, it was a proposition made by the owners of the largest companies in Guatemala at the time.
- IRTRA was created through a decree from the Guatemalan Congress that became effective in 1962.
- The secret to its success lies in the fact that it is an autonomous institution, so the central government can’t take part in its administration.
- Since IRTRA was born, all workers in Guatemala started to get a small part of their salaries taken from them to be used in the creation and maintenance and improvement of the IRTRA parks. They became affiliates, affiliates get free entrance to the parks, discount in the hotels and other advantages over visitors.
- The first IRTRA park opened its doors in 1967. It is a water park called “Agua Caliente” (hot water). It is located near Pacaya Volcano.
- Its name comes from the naturally heated hot spring pools that you can find in that area
- To the present day there are five parks spread all over the country, four hotels and one spa.
Information for IRTRA Petapa
Address: Avenida Petapa 42-36 zona 12 Guatemala
Hours: Thursday to saturday from 9am to 5pm, Sundays from 9am to 6pm
Affiliates: Free entrance (for up to 5 people)
Visitors: Kids: Q50, Adults Q100; Elderly Q50
Passports for rides: 12 for Q50
Each ride : Q5