Chichen Itza Light-and-Sound Show Launches! I think …

December 8th, 2014 by ejalbright

In the movie “Field of Dreams,” the mantra was, “If you build it, they will come.”

When it comes to the nightly Chichen Itza light-and-sound show, it’s “If you build a website, is it open?”

With zero fanfare, the office of the Yucatan Secretary of Tourism Promotion (SEFOTUR) launched a website promoting the long-in-development nightly show at Chichén Itzá. Secretary of Tourism Saúl Ancona Salazar last week promised the program would launch before Dec. 19. The website does not state if the show has begun or how much it costs, but it did publish hours of operation (see below).

The website and associated media give us the best look so far of the new program, which is called “Noches de Kukulcan” (“Night of Kukulcán,” referring to the Maya’s feathered serpent god, for whom the great pyramid at Chichén Itzá is named). There is a video that contains spectacular footage from the show and behind-the-scenes footage of the show’s creation (see the top of this post).

Unlike the previous show, which consisted of colored lights flashed on the great pyramid and the nearby Temple of Warriors, this new program consists of a computer-animated story projected on the pyramid. That portion of the program is 25 minutes, according to media reports, and will be combined with a night stroll by many of the site’s monuments, as outlined by this map:

Hours of Operation

“Noches de Kukulkán” consists of two parts, a walk through the illuminated monuments of Chichén Itzá and then the animated program projected against the pyramid. The walk will run from 7 to 7:30 p.m. during the winter, and 8 to 8:30 during the summer/daylight savings time. The computer animated show will be from 7:45 to 8 p.m. during the winter, and 8:45 to 9 during the summer/daylight savings time.

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Official: Oft-Delayed Light Show Arriving by Dec. 19

December 4th, 2014 by ejalbright

Image from

The new light-and-sound show at Chichén Itzá will premiere before Dec. 19, promises Yucatán’s leading tourism official.

Secretary of State Tourism Development Saúl Ancona Salazar announced earlier this week said the state had set a “probable” premiere date for the long-delayed night show, called “Night of Kukulcan,” but declined to tell reporters what that date was, only that it would be before Dec. 19.

“We have probable date for the premiere of ‘Night of Kukulcan,'” Ancona Salazar told the Diario de Yucatan. “On Sunday we sent letters with the proposed date to members of the Tourism Ministry and INAH [the federal agency in charge of Chichen Itza].”

The popular attraction was halted more than two years ago when lightning destroyed the equipment. While the old show consisted of colored lights projected on the giant pyramid El Castillo and the nearby Temple of Warriors, this new show will consist of animated images projected onto the pyramid telling the story of the Maya.

The new show will also include a nighttime walk by several of the monuments which will be illuminated.

Before anyone rushes out and buys tickets, the premiere of the light-and-sound show has been delayed three times over the past year.

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Chichén Itzá Light-and-Sound Show Delayed … Again

August 27th, 2014 by ejalbright

Image from

The on-again, off-again saga of the Chichén Itzá nightly light-and-sound show is off–again. Like a small child who has discovered a light switch for the first time, the backers behind the program announce its return, then postpone the premiere, then announce it again and follow that with another postponement.

In July officials in Yucatan’s government announced that nightly testing of the show would begin Aug. 11 with the show’s official premiere in September. Now word is trickling out that light-and-sound program once again has been delayed, with no date set for its return.

Secretary of State Tourism Development Saúl Ancona Salazar told La Verdad Yucatán that the light-and-sound show has once again been delayed because of “tuning issues” and tests are underway to assure that there will not be a repeat of the damage that occurred two years ago when lightning struck the equipment and destroyed it.

“We’re in the home stretch,” Ancona Salazar said. “The work is finished, but we cannot open it until we have taken care of the final details, especially to ensure the safety of visitors.”

The state has no release date, he said.

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2014 Ticket Prices and Fees — The Latest at Chichen Itza

August 10th, 2014 by ejalbright

Here are the 2014 ticket prices and other fees for Chichén Itzá, based on the best information available (including a visit to the site in February).

Admission prices (for non-Mexicans): 188 pesos (approx. $14.20 USD).
This includes 129 pesos charged by the state of Yucatan and 59 pesos by the government of Mexico.

NEW: Nightly Light-and-Sound Show: FREE beginning Aug. 11, then 198 pesos (~$15 USD) after September official premiere.
After an absence of two years, the evening light-and-sound show is scheduled to return Monday. What is not clear is that once the 198 peso fee is charged is whether that is included in the daily admission or is an additional fee. My guess is it will be the latter.

Parking: 30 pesos (~$2.25 USD).
If you drive to Chichén, you will probably end up parking in the main lot. This represents an increase that was effective Aug. 1.

Guides: 750 pesos, not including tip (~$57 USD)
Over the past couple of years the “system” for hiring guides has changed. Previously you could pick your guide, but now you hire your guide at a kiosk at the main entrance and you get the “next man up.” While this has eliminated price gouging (and haggling), not all guides are equal in their ability to speak and comprehend English or in their knowledge of Chichén Itzá.

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Chichen Itza Light Show Premieres Aug. 11 — For Free!

August 1st, 2014 by ejalbright

The new nightly light-and-sound show at Chichén Itzá will premiere on Aug. 11. According to officials, the first few weeks will be free.

The new show will consist of computer animated projections using El Castillo, the giant pyramid, as a theater screen. Although details of the content have been scarce, it will tell the story of the ancient Maya civilization in Yucatan.

According to various media outlets, there will be a soft launch be to test the system and work out the kinks before the official premiere in September. At that time the state government of Yucatan, which financed the show, will charge an admission fee of 193 or 198 pesos (approximately $15 U.S.).

The new light show has been more than two years in the making since lightning damaged the projectors that ran the previous show. Originally the show was to launch in 2013, but there have been numerous delays. Yucatan’s Secretary of Tourism Promotion (SEFOTUR), Ancona Saul Salazar, said when producing a show of this magnitude and complexity, one should expect there will be small issues.

In addition to the light-and-sound show, several of the monuments at Chichén will be illuminated. According to Enrique Magadan Villamil, director general of Yucatan’s agency in charge in tourism, Patronato de las Unidades de Servicios Culturales y Turísticos (CULTUR), patrons of the new light-and-sound show will view the illuminated monuments, including a walk through the Great Ball Court, before taking their seats in front of El Castillo for the show.

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Hacienda Chichen Adds Entrance to Chichen Itza

July 15th, 2014 by ejalbright

No one loves the Hacienda Chichen as much as I do. And my favorite building at Chichen Itza is Akab Dzib, the “House of Dark Writing.”

Now visitors can see and explore both.

The Hacienda Chichen, once a working plantation and cattle ranch, today is a resort. For the past five years, Akab Dzib has been behind a gate, unavailable to visitors.

Now visitors who stay at the Hacienda Chichen can enter the archaeological zone of Chichen Itza through the hacienda’s beautiful gardens and past the Akab Dzib, according to Belisa Barbachano, who run the resort.

“Our guests can arrange purchase of their ticket to Chichen Itza when booking their stay, at check in, or the night before their visit to the archaeological zone, and avoid all the discomforts that the other entrances provide, such as long waiting lines or crowded bus tour groups,” writes Barbachano in an e-mail. “It is magic to enter through our gardens, along a very secluded and lovely path to our new gate. It truly is such a great plus for our guests.”

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Preview of New Chichen Itza Light and Sound Show

July 14th, 2014 by ejalbright

The government of Yucatan let slip a few tantalizing images of the new light-and-sound show at Chichén Itzá, which is promised for this summer. We’ve loaded them into a preview video, which you can watch above (or see in HD on YouTube HERE).

When will the new show premiere? Officials are being vague. According to several recent news reports, a tourism official said it would begin “before July 15,” but he said it in such a way that it could be interpreted as “before the summer season is over, which runs from July 15 to Aug. 20.”

The best estimate by officials is that the new show will premiere the last week in July.

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Composer Previews Music for New Chichen Itza Light Show

June 27th, 2014 by ejalbright

Click above to hear samples of music to the new light-and-sound show at Chichen Itza

The music for the new nightly light-and-sound show at Chichén Itzá has premiered on the Internet.

Aldo Aráchar, a sound engineer based in Mexico City, reportedly composed the score for the new show, which according to officials is slated to premiere in early July.

Aráchar posted a sample of his score on SoundCloud, explaining, “Original music composed for the all new Chichen Itzá night show. Featuring state of the art video mapping techniques, lighting and quadraphonic audio, the new show truly is an extraordinary experience.”

Earlier this month Yucatán Governor Rolando Zapata Bello made a whirlwind trip to Chichén itzá to inspect the new show. According to press reports, the governor’s office had requested changes, in particular with the soundtrack, insisting upon more indigenous music/instruments.

Aráchar’s samples do contain what sound like Maya drums (the tunkel) and whistle, although most of the music is symphonic, closely resembling a film score.

The new light-and-sound show cost the state $60 million Mexican ($4.6 million US). Two years ago the equipment that projected the former light-and-show was struck by lightning. The loss of the nightly show has been devastating to hotels and restaurants in the area, who have had trouble attracting visitors to stay overnight without it.

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Chichén Itzá Nightly Light-and-Sound Show Returns in July

May 10th, 2014 by ejalbright

An early concept of the new show.

The nightly light-and-sound show at Chichén Itzá was supposed to return in April, but now tourism officials are saying that it will be back in July.

A lightning storm some two years ago put the popular evening attraction out of commission. There have been numerous delays preventing its return, but according to a recent news report, the new show may finally be ready.

Earlier this week Yucatecan tourism officials premiered the new show to 250 travel agents in Cancun at Tianguis Turístico 2014 (Tourist Expo 2014). Yucatan’s state director of tourism, Santiago González Abreu, told the Sipse news service in a telephone interview that the show “generated positive comments.” Unlike the previous show which simply flashed colored lights against the backdrop of the monuments to a spoken narration, this show will include animation projected on the monuments to tell the story of the ancient Maya.

This new show cost 50 million pesos and will premiere at Chichén Itzá in early July.

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Mexico Proposes Thousand-Acre Resort for Chichén Itzá

May 7th, 2014 by ejalbright

Video created in 2009 to promote tourism development around Chichen Itza

Five years ago then-governor of Yucatan, Ivonne Ortega Pacheco, described plans for a “Disneyfication” of Chichén Itzá. She envisioned a giant resort, with artificial beaches, golf courses, hotels, and restaurants in the vicinity of the ancient Maya city.

Those plans took a step closer to reality last week with the announcement by the government of Mexico to create three thousand-acre resort complexes next to the archaeological sites of Chichén, Palenque in Chiapas, and Teotihuacan near Mexico City.

The resorts, called Centros Integralmente Planeados (in English, “Integrally Planned Centers,” or CIPs), represent a proposed 8 billion peso investment by the federal government, employing a similar model that resulted in the development of Cancun back in the 1970s. For Chichén Itzá, Mexico is proposing to spend 2.75 billion pesos ($210 million U.S.) to develop an as-yet unidentified parcel or parcels of 1,000 acres.

Details are sparse on exactly what kind of development is proposed at Chichén. The video above suggests a dense resort complex, similar to what one would find in Cancun. But the federal government is describing these new projects as “low density, that is, having a limited number of hotel buildings and other buildings, plus it will be developed based on the available land reserves,” according to a report in the Mexican newspaper Milenio.

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto yesterday was in Mérida, the capital of Yucatán state that contains Chichén Itzá, and said his administration was taking action “to consolidate the Mesoamerican heritage,” specifically Chichén. Yucatán’s daily paper of record, the Diario de Yucatán, quoted the president as using the word “consoidar” which not only means to consolidate, but also can mean to fund.

In a recent interview, Martín Gómez Barraza, the director of FONATUR, was asked about the impact of creating and expanding tourist enterprises in areas of national patrimony such as Chichén Itzá. FONATUR, which is celebrating its 40th year, is the quasi-public agency that created Cancun, Los Cabos, and other resort areas, and no doubt will be called upon to develop a resort at Chichén. Gómez Barraza told Razon magazine (Reason) that it is part of the agency’s strategy to diversify tourism in Mexico. “We always rely on government agencies responsible to care for, maintain and preserve our heritage,” he said.

Graphic showing the three major projects proposed by the Mexican government (Milenio)


It’s for Real … Giant Development Planned for Chichen Itza

Mega-Tourism Development at Chichen Itza Nearing Reality?

Multi-Billion Peso Tourist Development Slated for Chichen Itza, Vendors Claim

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