Taking a trip over to Mexico City and we will be looking at a modern skate park that was completed during 2022 called PARCUR Chapultepec. Located in the third quadrant of the Chapultepec Park. Now don’t let the fact that this place was finished last year fool you into thinking that it holds minimal history, as the surrounding area is home to a very interesting story that goes back a few decades starting in 1979. So let’s take a step back in time and recount that history of two iconic businesses that used to hold residence on where this skatepark now lies today. This is the story of Atlantis and El Rollo.
Atlantis and El Rollo, are usually referred to these days as just Atlantis, yet Atlantis was two separate businesses. El Rollo was a waterpark that was opened during 1979, that consisted of a range of different waterslides and a huge wave pool that was powered by hydraulic motors. Atlantis was later built during 1981 and it was a Dolphinarium that allowed the public to get up close with a range of sea animals, including dolphins, seals and sea lions. Stacked with a number of pools and huge open areas for families, these two businesses were thriving places for families and tourists during the 80’s and 90’s. In their peak years, both businesses could have combined over 3,500 visitors per day. So they both were very popular.
Now as the years moved on, there were a number of bad administrative decisions and the decline of popularity for both these places led to low attendance and both Atlantis and El Rollo, closed their doors during 2007. Surprising that they lasted even that long, many waterparks during the late 90’s ended up closing. One such example we cover in Episode 2 surrounding the infamous Wet Willys waterslide in Fenton MO.
Now, the closure was very rapid as a result Atlantis was abandoned and majority of the sea animals ended up being trapped inside and neglected. Luckily the public were up in arms about these animals being left and finally they were rescued and placed in another facility, hopefully in better conditions than they saw at Atlantis. Like many of these places over the decades, there were stories of animal abuse and neglect.
So once abandoned both places fell into disrepair, now the third quadrant of Chapultepec Park is quite isolated in itself. For those of you who are not familiar with Mexico City, this area is a huge place that does attract many tourists as in other quadrants there are many museums, gardens etc that are in constant use. Yet the third quadrant is off the grid and does have more of an infamous reputation. So during their closure Atlantis and El Rollo, would now attract more people that were wanting to drink and party, it was seen to be quite dangerous and we have read stories about people who were visiting the abandoned parks that had some close encounters with some sketchy people. We also read that there are stories of this place being used in witchcraft, so maybe not the type of place you want to be caught up in at night, thats for sure. So as the years progressed, all the slides became very dilapidated and the pools dried up with just a shallow reminiscence of polluted waters. The buildings started to crumble and the entire place became riddled with graffiti and trash.
During the 2000’s after closure, Atlantis and El Rollo became a destination for travellers interested in its abandoned setup. So it is featured in a number of videos on YouTube and there are also a lot of images taken from both places. This is actually how I discovered them, and will give a shout out to the site Pink Plankton, for sparking my interest in Atlantis and El Rollo. So the first image that caught my eye was of El Rollo and it is a photo of one of their larger waterslides that almost look like some type of octopus and its tentacles are intertwined, leading down to this dried up splash pool, with a thin layer of almost toxic water left in it. The splash pool is covered in graffiti so we understand why people would want to go and check these places out, because they did look really cool and mysterious.
One of the first things we thought about when seeing just this array of pools and also the massive wave pool was if it had been adopted by skaters, which is why we ended up looking into this place. We read in a few articles that during the 2000’s it was a place that did attract skateboarders, yet there was no evidence of this.
So we started Googling it and wanted to see what it looked like from Google Maps. Once we managed to locate it, to our surprise covering the entire grounds where both Atlantis and El Rollo once stood, was now a huge skatepark, called PARCUR Chapultepec. So basically, this entire area underwent redevelopment as a part of a nature and culture project, with the goal of clearing up this area and bringing people back to the third quadrant.
The result is pretty amazing, there are numerous bowls for all different levels, including beginners. Huge flat spaces to skate that have all been really well adapted into the layout of both Atlantis and El Rollo, you can see how they have used areas of the wave pool and some animal pools into the construction of the park. One section resembles the outdoor auditorium where you would have seen the dolphin shows, kind of looks like a small amphitheatre. At any rate it is really cool and amazing that they can put time and energy into a project like this! It was finished during 2022 so the skatepark is very new and already looks like it has achieved its goal with bringing people back to this area in a positive way, There is also a number of gardens and playgrounds that are also setup here, which is a huge improvement from what it looked like before.