The opening of the long-awaited Tayto Park outside Ashbourne next week will see the creation of 85 jobs and a major spin-off for the local economy amid predictions that it will attract 200,000 visitors each year.
The €8.5 million investment by Ashbourne businessman, Ray Coyle, owner of nearby Largo Foods, is being seen as a major boost to the local economy.
He has turned 55 acres of Meath farmland into an American-themed park, which will include an Indian village, adventure playgrounds and exotic animals from buffalo to cougars and mountain lions. It opens next Wednesday, 24th November, initially creating 40 jobs, which will increase to 85 by next summer.
Mr Coyle said that, in these particularly worrying and trying times, he felt really privileged to be able to undertake this project. “We are extremely grateful for the support from all our suppliers and colleagues and for receiving the financial support that we needed in order to be able to build Tayto Park. This really makes a difference,” he said.
Tayto Park is one of the first themed parks of its kind in Ireland, over 100 attractions, designed by Stewart and Sinnott Architects, landscaper Anthony Ryan and designer Milo Fitzgerald.
The development includes parking for 800 cars and 30 buses and is designed to cater for 4,500 visitors a day. There are 4.2 kilometres of landscaped walkways with hundreds of different types of trees and shrubs. The full visitor experience takes approximately 4.5 hours from start to finish.
Some of the key attractions will include The Lodge, comprising 19,500 square feet of premium retail shops and a restaurant, as well as Teahouse in the Tree House. Set in a huge old sycamore tree, it is capable of hosting over 30 people.
The Potatohontus Native American Village comprises six different tipi tents, each one hand painted in the national colours of its tribe.
Tayto Plains is an open area, which includes many rare breeds of farm animals such as Jacob, Manx and Soay sheep, highland cattle, pygmy goats and Vietnamese pot belly pigs. Mr Tayto Critter Country is a wooded area where exotic animals like the ocelots, coatimundi, ria and racoons live.
Pet-Tayto Corner features rabbits, ducks, geese, pheasants, 10 different types of rare birds and lots of especially colourful and unusual hens.
The Pow Wow Playground is specially built for children aged between four and 14 years and contains four towers each with different connectors, slides, climbing walls and bridges.
It is the only one of its kind in Ireland and has capacity for 150 children.
Buffalo Ridge is home to some of the 250 farmed herd of buffalo and can be enjoyed from a viewing platform.
Santa Claus will be in Tayto Park from 27th November to 24th December when the entire park will be twinkling with thousands of special LED lights.
From now until March, Tayto Park will be open from Wednesday to Sunday, from 10am to 5pm, and from April to September, it will open from Monday to Sunday, from 10am to 6pm, including bank holidays. Entrance is €14 for adults and €12 for children. More information at Taytopark.ie.