The Legends of Mystery Cove

Image: Mall of America

An aerial glimpse at Mystery Cove (above) might not inspire much wonder. It's true that, in a glance, this new experience coming to the Mall of America is "just" an indoor waterpark, with all the traditional flourishes you'd expect: complexes of twisted slides, sand beaches along the lapping shores of a wave pool, family play complexes, a "lazy river"...

But Chris Grap told Blooloop, "As you go through Mystery Cove, it transitions as it would in a theme park. We really designed this as a theme park with water-based attractions. We didn’t want to be constrained to the idea of ‘This is just a water park, here’s the wet area, this is what you do’." It seems that much of the park's stylistic, theme-park-esque influence can be traced to freelance designer Rob Yeo, whose logo, concept art, and posters for the park are pervasive in setting the style, tone, and story of the park's five outposts...

The Outposts


Image: Mall of America

Let's get the lay of the land. Guests will enter Mystery Cove through FORTUNE FALLS – a "serene and intriguing" village of makeshift structures no doubt serving as the park's essential guest services: changing rooms, lost and found, first aid, and more.

But of course, the anchor of the park will no doubt be its double-wide wave pool, bisected down the center by the intriguing wreck of an iconic steamship. That ship, by the way, is the Il Corraggioso – trusted steamship of Captain Vesuvio... until, of course, it mysteriously ran aground in Mystery Cove. 

Image: Mall of America

Il Corraggioso serves as an icon and centerpiece for the park, and wraps into its story in numerous ways. For example, guests hopping into the park's lazy river in Fortune Falls will find themselves drifting through gaping holes in the ship. On one pass-through, they'll drift into the flooded boiler room of special effects. From the other direction, they'll pass into a hidden Vault containing Vesuvio's treasures, spilling into the waterway. 

Meanwhile, from the park's next outpost, THE COVE (the sandy beaches that surround the wave pools), guests may notice that it's Vesuvio's constant attempts to re-start his wrecked ship's engines that kicks off the waves!

As the park's central relaxation zone, The Cove is sure to be where most guests head in the morning to lay claim to sun chairs. But for those who want to rent a cabana for the day (a waterpark staple), The Cove will contain some incredible choices. After all, Mystery Cove's cabanas will literally be the "homes" of the park's denizens. Imagine renting out Evelyn Siddy's garage as your cabana, or her brother Arthur's plant-filled greenhouse... 

Image: Mall of America

In addition to the 52,000 square foot wave pools, The Cove will also contain a winding, makeshift boardwalk leading out between the waves to the Il Corraggioso. Why? Clearly having learned from the "Butterbeer Era," Mystery Cove is intending to re-thinking waterpark dining from hot dogs and hamburgers to something more "in-universe," beginning with Vesuvio's Dive Bar – a signature tiki bar located right on the steamship itself.

The other three "outposts" of Mystery Cove lie around the Cove's perimeter. The first from Fortune Falls is THE BIZARBORETUM – the "home outpost" of early arriver Arthur Siddy. This palm-encased family play area is meant to be a living laboratory where guests' splashing and spraying is all a part of watering Arthur's plant collection. (Some concept art suggests that a splashing family flat ride may be part of the park here, though it could be cut or reserved for a "Phase II" expansion.) 

The next region is EUREKA REEF. An almost prescient play on the 1964 World's Fair (which, of course, hasn't happened yet in Mystery Cove's timeline), this region is stylized as an "Atomic Age" of raised outlook towers and makeshift electrical conduits. Perhaps we'll meet characters who time-traveled from the 1960s! The major slide complex here is meant to see guests travel through the inner workings of the island's hydroelectric power generation.

Image: Mall of America

And how could a lost island in the Bermuda Triangle manage to get thousands of waterslide tubes to tackle these slides? Luckily, Mystery Cove is the only known home of "tuberry trees," whose unusual circular berries end up being very versatile! Not only can these rubbery-skinned berries be inflated to ten times their normal size – they can also be incorporated in sweet treats and signature drinks across the Cove! (Wink wink!) 

The final region is PERIL PEAK – a massive complex of slides grafted onto the rocky slopes of a dormant volcano. In universe, we'll learn that Peril Peak is presided over by a traveling circus (or "carpa") family – La Carpa Fuentes – who, after being stranded in Mystery Cove, decided to set-up their acrobatic and circus equipment here. 

Image: Mall of America

And of course, with a developing economy, you can expect plenty of clever and inventive food options for the park... not just a main canteen serving as an island commissary and go-to dining hall, but unique, story-driven vendors and carts like the Fuentes family's volcano-powered hot dog carts, or Eureka Reef's "Tacomatic" food truck, seeming to press torillas, chop veggies, and deposit toppings automatically. 

Image: Mall of America

And by the way, with excitement ramping up, the team behind Mystery Cove is also designing Halloween and Christmas overlays right into Phase I of the park, meaning after-dark holiday period evenings at Mystery Cove are almost certain to be filled with new characters, new effects, new music, and a whole lot of clever storytelling...

The Adventure Begins...

Image: Mall of America

No official opening date for Mystery Cove has been set aside from the rough idea of a 2024 target... But already, it's clear that the Mall of America is going big with this project – both physically and narratively. At the end of the day, maybe it would've been easier to license a DreamWorks Water Park or a Nickelodeon Water Park... but we believe that when it's all said and done, the work going into this incredible new experience will be worth it.

In the meantime, you can bet that we at Theme Park Tourist will keep Mystery Cove on our short list of major projects and updates to bring to you, as we can't wait to visit this tropical paradise and explore the characters, settings, and stories it brings to life...


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