The Celebrate Project – An Amazing Destination!

The Celebrate Project was introduced to us on November 12, 2014, when both Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta announced its plans to construct and operate a first-of-its-kinds immersive theme park experience in Puerto Vallarta. “Grupo Vidanta is offering us an amazing sandbox in which we can unleash our creativity,” said Guy Laliberté, founder of Cirque du Soleil. “Both our groups strive for perfection. Grupo Vidanta is passionate and cares for the environment. We set ourselves the challenge of creating something unlike anything the world has seen before.” The entertainment experience, which was still in development, would include a water park, a nature park, as well as an evening show accommodating as many as 3,000 to 5,000 spectators. Each experience within the entertainment park would be animated by Cirque du Soleil and follow a common storyline.


The announcement came on the eve of the launch of JOYÀ, an intimate and immersive theatrical and culinary experience developed by Cirque du Soleil and Grupo Vidanta that premiered at the Riviera Maya on November 21st. “We have been dreaming together with Cirque du Soleil to create new categories of entertainment for Mexico and the world for more than five years,” said Grupo Vidanta founder Daniel Chávez Morán. “The demand we’ve seen for JOYÀ makes us confident future projects will be met with success. When guests see what we are able to build in Nuevo Vallarta, they will know we are now in the position to build our dreams.” Development of the Nuevo Vallarta project aimed to reimagine the theme park experience in the same way JOYÀ will redefine theatrical and culinary entertainment.

But much about the project has remained under wraps since the initial announcement, until InPark Magazine ran a story on May 28th that helped shed a little more light on the project:

Many people around the world credit Cirque du Soleil for reinventing the circus,” said Martin Boudreau, President of Cirque du Soleil Parks, Immersive Attractions and New Content division. “In our new joint venture, 4th Wall, the combined vision of Cirque and the unique talents of Goddard Group (GGE) come together. We now have the opportunity to apply our creativity to other entertainment mediums, bringing to them the signature Cirque du Soleil elements of imagination and originality that spectators have come to expect from us.”

The plan for what Goddard describes as an “experience park” includes a unique, Cirque-inspired boat ride, a series of highly immersive attractions, including the kind of outdoor live show only Cirque could create. Food and beverage together with retail offerings will likewise be customized. The park will be geared to an older audience (while including appeal for families with children) and have international appeal, although most guests are expected to be from Mexico, the United States and Canada.

Goddard likens the concept to something more resembling Discovery Cove than Disneyland. But then he draws another comparison: “If there were a waterpark created by Cirque for Burning Man, it would probably look like this.” The elements, especially water, and natural vegetation will be important in creating a unique environment that will feature live performers in many settings and impart the sense of having come upon a hidden village in an enchanted forest.

Just a few days later, on June 10th, a video made its way to YouTube offering up tantalizing new details about the project we’d never before heard; it had us very excited! For the first time we were hearing about the resorts Vidanta planned to build, the rides that might be associated with the park, not to mention the other experiences. It was a gold-mine filled with information about something we wouldn’t be able to experience for years to come. Alas, that jubilation was short-lived, as the video was removed almost as soon as it was discovered and circulated by fans. To rub salt in the wound we didn’t even have time to save it for posterity. (Talk about kicking ourselves in the butt for that oversight…)

But wouldn’t you know that video would make a re-appearance the second week of August? This time we not only saved the video, but made a transcript of all the information contained within – and there’s a lot! In the video we hear from Daniel Lamarre, CEO of Cirque du Soleil; Gary Goddard, CEO of The Goddard Group; Taylor Jeffs, Director of Design of The Goddard Group; Ben Potvin, Director of Acrobatics at Cirque du Soleil; Amy Lareau, Director of Business Development at Cirque du Soleil; and Martin Boudreau, Vice President of Business Development at Cirque du Soleil. So, without further ado: The Celebrate Project!

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Daniel Lamarre: For 30 years the mission of Cirque du Soleil has been to evoke the imagination, to provoke the senses, and to evoke the emotions of people around the world. For many, many years we have been looking for someone that could give us the opportunity to enhance the sandbox of creativity of Cirque du Soleil. This is amazing that a visionary of the resort business is meeting with a visionary of the entertainment world. We are going to deliver an experience that is going to be totally unique in the world.

Gary Goddard: We’ve been working on something new, something completely different – it’s a new kind of destination resort. I’m always looking for ways to do things in a new – that push the envelope. So in the ways that we innovated in retail with The Forum (Shops at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas) and hotels with The Galaxy and in theme parks attractions with Spider Man (at Islands of Adventure in Orlando), with T2 (at Universal Parks), with Caesars Magical Empire – all the things we’ve done – we want to find a unique way into the whole Cirque experience and create a memorable, unforgettable, emotional experience that picks up on the things that we think of as Cirque and brings them to life in a new way. At the first meeting with Guy Laliberte and with Daniel Chavez from Vidanta we’d already had a day or two in the Vidanta Resort to see the beautiful work that they do. In my mind what began to form was we can take what Cirque does, and we can take what Vidanta does, and we can take what GGE does, and we can create an entirely new kind of experience that doesn’t really exist and that uses the best resources and abilities of all of the people that comprised our various companies.

Taylor Jeffs: In a traditional Cirque du Soleil show you are in the role of spectator, you sit and watch in the audience. However, imagine what it would be like to get out of your seat and wander onto the stage and not just that, but to be a character within this fantasy world they created.

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Gary Goddard: The Celebrate Project, which is the working name at the moment, is an integrated resort with 10 unique entertainment attractions surrounded by three exclusive Vidanta resorts: the Kingdom of the Sun, the Kingdom of the Stars, and The Grand Cascades.

Taylor Jeffs: These resorts literally put guests right in the middle of the action. The Kingdom of the Sun Resort is a grand golden palace located right in between the Village of Sun’s daytime experience and the Valley of the Blue Waters waterpark experience.

Gary Goddard: This is the place where all things Cirque exist. You’ll be able to enter the square which will be a beautiful plaza and there’s a wide variety of attractions you should be able to experience while you’re there. The village is also home to the CirqueCamp. The CirqueCamp is a very unique place… this particular thing let you go and learn from the Cirque performers themselves how to perform, how to put on the makeup – you’ll be able to learn that with the masters from the actual Cirque company.

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Ben Potvin: what we want to do is bring our expertise to the general public. Our guests are going to be able to have fun in a safe environment, as well as learn something new about themselves and about Cirque du Soleil. We want to be able to bring to everybody what it feels to actually be on a Cirque du Soleil stage. Everything that we have in our shows we will have a component of that on site. We really want to work together to bring to life everybody’s creativity and bring this whole theme park experience to the next level.

Taylor Jeffs: On the opposite end of the resort we have the Grand Cascades, which is a luxury spa resort located right on the edge of the water park. Every single room ensuite has a premium view of this incredible fantasy paradise that we’ve created.

Gary Goddard: You look out onto the Grand Cascades resort, which is an amazing hotel – which has waterfalls – and that is actually our water park that surrounds this hotel. We call that the Valley of the Blue Waters.

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Amy Lareau: This will be the world’s first theatrical water park and here the guest is the star.

Taylor Jeffs: Just as a real theatrical performance begins with the opening of a curtain our show begins with the opening of a curtain also, but ours is a curtain made of water. As you arrive at the park the curtain will actually part open revealing the park in front of you, and from that point on guests are immersed in the theatrical experience of our water park.

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Gary Goddard: The Kingdom of the Stars as a magical palace. It sits at the top of the hill and it forms a center of our entire night time experience of which the feature is the Village of the Moon. The Village of the Moon only comes to life at night, after the sun goes down and we’ve designed the park to be on axis with where the sun goes down so literally once the sun starts to go down there will be a ceremony that happens across the lagoon, and if you want to go there you need to go to the Embassy… you can get your passport there, which will allow you entrance into this Village of the Moon. And as you pass the threshold, your passport – with the power of the moonlight – will glow as you enter, signaling that it’s ok for you to enter. And from this village – just like a real village – you have many opportunities: if you go down this path it will take you to The Grotto, if you go down that path it’ll take you to The Wylde, if you go down that path it’ll take you to The Forest, if you go to this path it’ll take you to the Mechanical Gardens. Now, what are all these things? Well the Mechanical Gardens is actually a ride park, but all the rides have been twisted and turned in a unique way that makes them uniquely Cirque. And then if you go down that path – to The Wlyde – what is the Wylde? The Wylde is kind of the area of nightmares. From there you might want to go on The Grotto, and we’re going to – for the first time in a boat ride – not only have animatronics and special effects but live performers performing in unique new ways. And then there’s The Lake.

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Amy Lareau: The Lake is another new kind of show for Cirque du Soleil. It will be our first show to be staged outdoors and will feature the largest cast ever put together by Cirque, and performances and acts never seen before in any of our shows.

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Taylor Jeffs: The other big attraction here is The Forest. We’re going put guests on a train, take them out to the edge of the property, drop them off, and their job from that point on is to find their way back to the village. They’re going to discover these incredible worlds filled with fantasy creatures, fantastical characters and interactive experiences unlike anything they’ve seen before.

Daniel Lamarre: We are so excited to have the opportunity to finally push the envelope, push the boundaries of creativity in conjunction with a unique partner that we do respect very much.

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Martin Boudreau: We are very confident by combining the amazing creativity of Cirque du Soleil and the power of our brand through the expertise of the Goddard Group and the talent of Vidanta team will give us everything we need to build an amazing project in Puerto Vallarta.

Gary Goddard: I think the reason Cirque du Soleil is so beloved all around the world is because it is always appealed to people’s emotions, it makes them laugh, makes them cry, and it aspires to be a demonstration or a reflection, like a mirror, of our best qualities. So if we can tap into all these very human emotions and elements it will be an attraction that will entertain people for generations to come.