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Special Travel Issue | Alien concept

Switzerland Goes Galactic

Side Trips: Travel Tips, Trends and Tools

March 21, 2004|Renee Vogel

If Switzerland had a theme park, what kind of attractions would it have? Something along the lines of the Matterhorn or the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse, right?

Wrong. Switzerland has Mystery Park.

Mystery Park, opened last year near the resort town of Interlaken, is devoted to, er, history's enigmas. The park was conceived by best-selling author Erich von Daniken, whose works, including "Chariots of the Gods?," explore the idea that extraterrestrials had a hand in the achievements of many ancient civilizations. Scholars have disparaged most of Von Daniken's speculations, but fans have snapped up more than 60 million copies of his books.

Regardless of what visitors believe, they are invited to "learn the meaning of astonishment" at the facility, which looks like something out of "The Jetsons." The $66-million park consists of seven pavilions radiating from a large central building topped by a geodesic dome. Each of the pavilions, which were designed by local architects, explores a different great "mystery" of the world. For example, the pyramid-shaped Orient pavilion is devoted to Egypt's Pyramids at Giza; the MegaStones exhibition focuses on England's Stonehenge, complete with a close-to-life-size model of the stone structure.

Visitors won't find Disney-esque rides, but they can experience multimedia presentations such as movies and laser shows. A "Fun Zone" offers simulated space shuttle and submarine rides.

It may not be the vision of Switzerland most people expect, but where else can you find the great mysteries of the world all in one place--and a view of the Alps to boot?

Mystery Park, Obere Bonigstrasse 100, 3800 Interlaken, Switzerland; 011-41-33-848-50-60-70, Open daily except Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is about $40 for adults; about $23 for children 6 -13.

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