By Deanna Allen
June 21, 2014
Gwinnett Daily Post
DULUTH — A former department store at Gwinnett Place Mall is undergoing a very unique makeover.
Very little of the more than 200,000-square-foot Belk store is recognizable now — a fitting room here, two escalators there — and moving into the space is a laser tag ride, arcade games, a fantasy village and more. A giant, talking tree that stands higher than 60 feet already takes up space at the escalators.
And the interior of the store is just one section of Fantasy Magic World, an indoor and outdoor attraction with giant, magical structures, carnival rides, circus acts, music performers, food vendors and more.
“We are looking to create a whole new concept for an event never seen before,” said Natalio Pabon, CEO of Fantasy Magic World. “We turned a department store into a fantasy world. It has been converted into a completely different thing.”
Set to open from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, June 27, Fantasy Magic World is now under construction with rides going up on 6.5 acres in the parking lot, wooden characters being painted inside the Belk store and the final touches being made to some of the outdoor structures.
Pabon said he chose the Duluth location for the debut of his one-of-a-kind mobile theme park for two reasons.
“We were looking for the right location and it was very important to have a place that would be easily accessible for visitors, also a place that would be (secure),” Pabon said. “This whole area has those elements.”
The main attraction at Fantasy Magic World is the indoor laser tag ride, which Pabon called a “Disney-style ride. "People get on a cart and they will go through 18 different scenes that will take them to different areas,” Pabon said. Theme park designer and Atlanta native Don McCrary was directing the set up for the laser tag ride Thursday. “This is a space fantasy,” he said of the ride. “The basic idea is that you’re a space cadet and you’re embarking on a training mission … but as you’re traveling to the training planet what happens is you’re the only group of people close enough to go save the day and you have to go off to battle before you’re well trained and learn to go and attack the aliens.”
More than 750,000 people are expected to visit the attraction over the 67 days it will remain at Gwinnett Place Mall. “The most important thing is for children and adults to really enjoy their time now that it’s summertime,” Pabon said. “People are looking for stuff to do, so we think this is a very good option for them.”
Allen, D. (June 21, 2014). Mobile theme park under construction at Gwinnett Place Mall. Gwinnett Daily Post. (June 25, 2014). http://www.gwinnettdailypost.com/news/2014/jun/21/mobile-theme-park-under-construction-at-gwinnett/