Illegal border crossing the latest attraction at Mexico amusement park

Customs and Border Patrol agents prepare to question a motorist at a checkpoint along Highway 94 outside of October 17, 2007 in Campo, California.  (Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images)
Customs and Border Patrol agents prepare to question a motorist at a checkpoint along Highway 94 outside of October 17, 2007 in Campo, California. (Sandy Huffaker, Getty Images)

Updated: 6/26/2013 3:37 pm

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HIDALGO, Mexico -- Disneyland has Magic Mountain. Disney World has EPCOT Center. El Parque EcoAlberto has Night Walk -- a new attraction that pits park goers against phony border patrol agents and phony smugglers in a phony attempt to cross into the U.S. illegally.

It's not exactly the happiest place on Earth.

El Parque EcoAlberto is an amusement park in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo, nearly 1,000 miles away from the real U.S. border. But local residents don't have to go far to have much of the same experience that hundreds of migrants endure every day.

The new attraction, called Night Walk, puts people through some of the same rigors that comes with crossing the border illegally -- aggressive border patrol agents, sneaky smugglers, foot chases, sirens, and even K-9 units.

The entire three-hour tour is open to anyone with the desire -- and $20. But why would anyone willingly go through such a scenario? Believe it or not, the attraction is aimed at keeping local residents right where they are.

Park officials say the Night Walk is designed as a deterrent to crossing over into the U.S, by showing prospective migrants the dangers involved.

"Our objective is to stop the immigration that exists amongst our citizens, principally from the state of Mexico to the U.S.," park administrator Maribel Garcia told PBS-TV.

Officials estimate that the central region has lost approximately 80 percent of its population to the U.S. -- and the very idea for the fake border attraction was hatched by local youth who crossed the border for real, and returned home with the concept that this could boost the Mexican economy.

So far, the unusual attraction has been successful. Organizers hope that it will generate enough revenue to keep Night Walk alive, and persuade native Mexicans to stay in their home country.

"It's not worth risking it," said Jazmin Arely Alcazar, who took the tour. "Because if we can't stand it for a few hours, we won't be able to stand a few days."

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