Mystic Mountain reopens with US$6m new attraction after COVID break
The Raggamuffin Ride at Mystic Mountain
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Mystic Mountain, St Ann, Michael Drakulich, says despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the attraction was able to complete construction of its newest offering, Reggae Ridge, at a cost of US$6 million (J$900 million).
Reggae Ridge is a celebration of music, flight, freedom and fun for people of all ages. It features the Raggamuffin, which is an inverted roller coaster, which will take guests soaring 1,000 feet above Ocho Rios, St Ann and the Caribbean Sea.
It features one-of-a-kind all-electric eco ATV Quad Bike tours in silence through a lush watershed.
Drakulich said this should also be taken against the background that the attraction is one of the few tourism entities that, despite the shutting down of operations, decided against the displacement of any of its permanent staff, opting to “bite the bullet and stay the course”.
In a release, he elaborated that “Even with the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and the commitment to retain all 150 permanent staff members, we managed to complete work on our Reggae Ridge and its signature Raggamuffin (Inverted Chair Coaster) to boost the ever-growing appeal of the attraction.”
“We have been running on fumes amid mounting expenses for quite some time now, and truly welcome the announcement that the sector will be reopened next week.”
Drakulich further revealed that Mystic Mountain has been spending some J$3 million per day to remain operational, and now needs to position itself where at the very least it can start to break even.
“We have been closed and have not earned any income since March 12 when the coronavirus (COVID-19) brought the tourism sector to a halt,” he indicated.
“To compound matters, it has been an ongoing struggle for many within the attractions industry to collect receivables owed from the time of the forced shutdown,” he added.
He said even with no cash flow except for “a slow trickle of money owed to us”, Mystic Mountain has never thought about displacing its staff, noting that “they helped to build this place, so in times of need it’s only fitting that we are here for them.
“We have measures in place to retain all staff to date. We were the industry leaders in taking the early decision in March to shut down over concern for our staff exposure to visitors during an exploding pandemic, and to make payment of a stipend to all our staff members, and welcomed the care package put forward by Government, which has helped,” the CEO further explained.
He said that as Mystic Mountain prepares for reopening, the attraction has had to change its entire operational plan to facilitate social distancing to create an environment to keep the staff and visitors safe.
Drakulich noted that a lot of time and effort have been spent putting health and safety protocols in place, adding that Mystic Mountain will only be open to locals in the coming weeks, and not for “tourists”.
“We have for the past year, way before COVID-19, put a programme in place to target the local market on weekends. We are only now continuing with this as we encourage Jamaicans to come out and see the beauty that is Mystic Mountain,” Drakulich added.
He also noted that special packages have been put in place for essential workers… “for their bravery and service to our country”.
He added that “Our essential workers have been at the forefront on the battlefield doing yeoman’s service for our country and badly needs a reprieve for themselves and their families. What we are doing here… the packages we have put together… is but a mere token of our appreciation and a way for us to have them here to enjoy our wonderful local product.”
Drakulich said to ensure that protocols are strictly adhered to, Mystic Mountain will only be allowing a quarter of the park’s capacity or 700 people each day - 350 in the morning and 350 reserved for morning and afternoon sessions.
The property sits on 100 acres of land.