Geo: -34.5843, -58.5251
It all seemed so simple. After queuing for 40 minutes or so to get into the Parque de la Costa theme park in Tigre, Argentina, a big sign told us that there were three types of entrance ticket.
There was a Passport Promo, a Passport Plus and a Gold Passport. The Passport Promo seemed to include nothing of interest, whereas the only extra included with the Gold Passport was the shows they laid on for little kiddies. We didn't want the shows, just the roller-coasters, so...
Sebastián: "Two Passport Pluses, please".
Levi: "Oh, wait, for just 30 pesos extra, I can upgrade my Passport Plus to a Winter Passport Plus, which means I can come back as many times as I like this winter. I might come back with a friend when she arrives in Buenos Aires later this week, so..."
Sebastián: "Make that one Passport Plus and one Winter Passport Plus, please."
Parque de la Costa staff: "No problem. You will need to register the Winter Passport Plus in order to activate it. You can only do this up until 5 o'clock, in the Tour of the Nations office in the park."
Sebastián: "Thank you."
Levi: "Look, Sebastián, the
cloakroom. I want to put my jacket in there. We queue over there."
After another queue:
Parque de la Costa staff: "I am sorry, sir, this window of the cloakroom is for bags only. You have to enter the park and come around to our other window, where one of us will come and meet you to take your jacket."
We entered the park and joined another cloakroom queue.
Parque de la Costa staff: "Here is your cloakroom ticket. Please can I have your passport number?"
Right, almost time to go on a ride. First we decided to activate the Winter Passport Plus, so that we didn't forget to do this before 5 o´clock.
Sebastián: "There's the Tour of the Nations office, Levi. That's where we need to go. Oh, there's a big queue."
After queue number 4:
Parque de la Costa staff: "Right, to activate your Winter Passport Plus, we need your name, your passport number, and a record of your finger prints on this little electronic device....Thank you. Now you can come back to the park whenever you like in the next three weeks."
Levi: "Right, enough queuing, Sebastián. Let´s go on the swirly roller-coaster thing over there!"
We queued, and, we were very close to
getting on. There were just 8 people in front of us when we heard the tannoy.Tannoy: "This ride is only for people with Gold Passports. You can upgrade your passports at the Tour of the Nations office."
Sebastián: "Oh, we can't get on, Levi. We don't have Gold Passports."
We checked around, and realised that all of the good rides required Gold Passports. This wasn't what the sign at the entrance said and wasn´t true during Sebastián's last trip to the park, but it appears that, when the park is popular and the weather good, they seem to change the rules.
Sebastián: "Okay, let's go back to the Tour of the Nations Office....Oh, the queue is longer this time."
After queue number 6:
Sebastián: "Hello, we would like to upgrade our Passports to Gold Passports, please."
Parque de la Costa staff: "I see one of your Passports is a Winter Passport Plus. Do you want to upgrade the Winter Passport Plus to a one-day Gold Passport or to a Winter Gold Passport?"
Levi: "Erm, I don't know. I am a bit confus.."
Parque de la Costa staff: "...Well, for 35 pesos, you can upgrade it to a Gold Passport for today only, or, for 5 pesos less,
you can upgrade it to a Winter Gold Passport and come back as many times as you like all winter."
Sebastián: "That doesn't make sense. Why is it cheaper to buy the winter-long pass? Never mind...yes, fine, a Winter Gold Passport, please".
Parque de la Costa staff: "Certainly, we will just need to register you at this other till over here. We will need your passport number, your details and we will take your finger prints."
Levi: "What, again?"
Parque de la Costa staff: "Yes."
Levi: "Sebastián, I am getting a bit worried about time. We have been here two and a half hours now and we are still doing the paperwork. Look at that sign. It says that we can buy a Pass Quickly pass to get on the rides without queuing. Maybe we should get a couple of those, because otherwise we won't have time to go on the rides."
Sebastián: "How much are the Pass Quickly passes, please?"
Parque de la Costa staff: "That depends. Do you mean the Pass Quickly Standard pass, of which there are two kinds, depending on which rides you want to get on? Those are 15 pesos per person. Or, of course, we have the Pass Quickly
Gold pass, which works on five of the main rides. Those are 25 pesos."Sebastián: "What do you think, Levi?"
Levi: "I just want the best super-dooper tickets available. Frankly, I am ready to get on some rides now."
Sebastián: "You want the best of the best?"
Levi: "Yes, the best of the best."
Sebastián: "Okay, please can we upgrade my Passport Plus to a Gold Passport, upgrade his Winter Passport Plus to a Winter Gold Passport, and we'd also like to buy two Pass Quickly Gold passes, please."
Parque de la Costa staff: "No problem...here, let me change your wristbands for you. Yes, I know the Gold Passport wristband is actually green...don't worry about that. Now, here is your schedule. You have been allocated a time-slot to go on each of the five main rides."
Then something magical happened. We went from being paupers with purple wristbands, which wouldn't allow us to go on anything, to being kings, with pocketfuls of paperwork that allowed us to skip all the queues and go straight onto the main rides. From the social isolation of poverty to the embarassment of wealth...from untouchable (in one sense of the word) to untouchable (in the other), in a heartbeat.
The big silo thing in the middle...
...looks like something that might have been there before they built the theme park.
liked the rides very much, especially the red upside-down one and the ever-so-odd Psycho Clowns experience, which frankly felt far too chain-sawry and bloody for some of the little children in there. Levi: "Shall we go home now?"
Sebastián: "Yes, please. We just need to queue at the cloakroom for your jacket."
Tannoy (on a very loud annoying loop as we queued): "Did you know that you can come back to the park for just 5 pesos? Yes, you heard correctly... just 5 pesos! Just activate your Return Pass at the exit before you leave."
Levi: "Oh, that's what I wanted, Sebastián, a Return Pass instead of my Winter Passport Gold. That would have been cheaper."
Sebastián: "Yes, it would...but there was no information about that at the entrance."
Levi (under his breath): "Bastards."
After one final mention of my passport number at the cloakroom, we were free.
Levi: "No more paperwork, Sebastián!! Hurray! Ooo, a waffle stall. I would like a waffle."
Sebastián: "One chocolate waffle and one ham and cheese waffle, please."
Waffle stall staff: "Sorry, sir, you need to go inside the restaurant there and pay first, and they will give you a ticket. Then come back and give us the ticket.
Those bloody Psycho Clowns
Inside, you get locked into a seat in the dark, listen to a blood-curdling version of a Beatles song and watch a loud, violent film whilst people touch your body.
You give me tickets for savory waffles and you give my colleague here tickets for sweet waffles."Levi: "...Oh, Sebastián, I think it will confuse things that our ticket is for a savory waffle and a sweet waffle. I think they will forget my chocolate waffle."
Forty-five minutes we stood there, waiting for my chocolate waffle. Sebastián had time to go back to the restaurant and get another ticket for, receive and eat a second course before my chocolate waffle arrived. But it did taste very nice.
My tips for a trip to Parque de la Costa:
1. If you can afford it, throw money at this place. Trust me, you want the most golden, super-dooper tickets you can buy, with extra Pass Quickly Gold passes thrown in for good measure. I can't be sure, because it all got a bit confusing, but I think that, for the gold standard everything, we paid about 125 pesos (U$D30/£18.50) for Sebastián's one-day pass, and 155 pesos (U$D38/£23) for my winter-long pass.
2. Don't take anything which you need to put in the cloakroom. You will save yourself three of our many queues.
3. When you leave, do turn left and walk past the casino where you will find
Whether you use a seat belt depends on your height
Sometimes I do miss the health and safety culture of the UK.
a place to buy a very nice waffle. However, choose to sit indoors, instead of engaging with the queue at the window outside. You'll get served quicker...plus I now realise that a chocolate waffle is a very difficult thing to eat standing up.With apologies for all errors in translation (which, in many cases, I made knowingly in order to turn my jerky Spanish into fluent English or to fill the occasional gaps when I didn't fully understand what Sebastián was saying but could make a decent stab at guessing what it might have been).
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