On of my daughter’s (and I admit it, mine also) biggest thrills was stumbling across an IMAX theatre during a recent visit to Berlin. Something about tilting your head back and watching a movie on a screen roughly 3 or 4 stories tall – and in 3D no less – was pretty impressive. So imagine our surprise when we discovered that an IMAX theatre exists in Southern Italy, near the city of Taranto, in a spacious resort complex operated by Hilton Hotels.
The theme park’s is called “Felisia – The Hidden City” (pronounced Fell-ee-see-ah) and is a play on the Italian word “felice'” which means “happy”. It’s not a theme park in the literal sense of the word. Not anything like Disney World or any theme parks of that genre. No, Felisia is an interactive playground. A place where families and children of all ages can come and explore.
The theme park is wrapped around a concept of being a lost city of a race of people called the “Felici” (fey- lee’-chey). A mysterious culture who love nature, science, archeology, and life in general. Thus, the attractions within the park revolve around these themes.
First there is “The Power of Nature” – a labyrinth of tunnels takes you to a hidden laboratory full of strange machinery. Visitors learn about earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, cyclones and more. Interactive play stations let children get “hands on” knowledge of what causes these natural phenomena.
You can proceed to the Pathways of Dreams and Science. The “Chamber of Ideas’ is full of inventions that have actually been realized or else didn’t quite get off the drawing board for one reason or another. Plenty of things for the kids to touch and feel and unleash their imaginations on. The Grand Library of Knowledge shines a spotlight on the importance of reading and how integral a part books are in our development.
The Theatre of Colors takes place in the Felisia discothÃ?Â¨que. From 11:00pm until 4:00am the disco is alive with techno-pop and electric music and enough spinning lights to make you think you’re back on Broadway. But during the day the main dance-floor is transformed into a Robot-review. Really unlike anything I’ve ever seen. A quartet of robots dance and sing and equals anything I’ve seen with the animatronic models of Disney World.
Finally the World of Archeology places you under the ground and inside an archeological dig that uncovers the primitive and historic past of the hidden world of Felisia.
Within these interactive gaming areas sits the IMAX theatre which shows features n 2D and 3D. The theatre was the first of its kind to be built in Italy. And offers 600 square-meters of arena seating for nearly 400 patrons and a concave screen that is 800 meters high and extends up to cover the entire ceiling. Tickets for IMAX run 8 euro. The theatre is open from 10:30 in the morning until 10:30 in the evening. The theatre rotates its features. The dinosaur flick “T-Rex; Back to the Cretaceous” was playing when we went. Other films include “The Lions of the Serengeti” and “Cyber Wars”.
Getting back to Felisia. Each area of the park is linked together so kids and adults can easily segue from one area to the other. The entire complex is framed by 3 Hilton Hotels that range from bungalow-style accommodations to standard single and double rooms and suites. The hotels offer a luxurious spa and massage service that must be seen (and experienced) to be fully appreciated. If you feel you can afford a stay at one on the Hilton hotels, they offer a “family package” that includes a room, meals and theme park.
There is also a water-slide park, a disco that rivals anything I’ve seen elsewhere in Europe, plus horse stables, plenty of clean spotlessly clean bathrooms and restaurants throughout and of course 5 miles of pristine beach.
Fortunately, there are plenty of hotels in the local area – so visitors have plenty of other options regarding hotels and accommodations. And as long as you’re visiting the Hidden world of Felisia, why not visit the not-so-hidden worlds nearby like Metaponto, Brindisi, Alberobello, Lecce and more. I’ve written about many of these locations so run a check on the Associated Content search engine.
The land of Felisia ((Castellaneta Marina, Taranto 909-982-01444) is unlike any other “theme park” we’ve visited. It’s easily accessible by car, plane or bus (refer to the website for an easy-to-understand map). I think it’s great that there is a place that is not only fun but also allows kids to learn something and use their imaginations. And the best part? All this cerebral activity is taking place and your children don’t even realize it. They’re too busy having fun!