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Crossing the U.S. - Mexico Border Illegally For Fun?: A Mexican Amusement Park Offers 'Night Walks' to Simulate the Experience (AUDIO) (VIDEO)

Travelers Today       By    Karen Fredrickson

Updated: Jul 01, 2013 01:48 PM EDT

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Parque EcoAlberto
Participants in the Night Walk simulate illegally crossing the U.S. - Mexico border.(Photo : Parque EcoAlberto)

Amusement parks usually brag about their rollercoasters or the height of their Ferris wheels, but an amusement park in Mexico has something a bit more unique - a new ride that simulates an illegal border crossing from Mexico into the United States, according to NBC News.

The amusement park in the central Mexican state of Hidalgo charges visitors $20 a person to participate in a three to four hour "Night Walk," that simulates the experience of trying to illegally cross the Mexican border into the United States.

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Visitors to the amusement park, Parque EcoAlberto, which is located approximately 800 miles from the U.S. - Mexico border, are led by fake smugglers, usually called coyotes, along a seven-mile hike that includes realistic situations intended to simulate the real experience, such as climbing over fences and trying to avoid barking dogs, flashlight beams and other obstructions put there in an effort to elude the "border patrol officers" trying to catch participants.

Participants in the Night Walk are blindfolded as part of the experience.
Participants in the Night Walk are blindfolded as part of the experience.

"There are a wide variety of unique, interesting and bizarre experiences being cooked up to put people through at amusement parks," Robert Niles, the editor of "Theme Park Insider," told NBC. "This goes beyond taking someone to a haunted house and having someone jump out at them.

"This is taking it to a new level that we don't ordinarily see," Niles continued.

The goal of creating the attraction is to generate income for the local community and discourage young people from leaving town by demonstrating how difficult and dangerous an illegal crossing can be, according to park officials.

"Our objective is to stop the immigration that exists amongst our citizens, principally from the state of Mexico to the U.S.," Maribel Garcia, a park administrator, said in a PBS report.

An anti-immigration group in the U.S., the Federation for American Immigration (FAIR), sees merit to the Night Walk.

"If the intent is to discourage people from doing it - from risking their lives and violating immigration laws - then it's a worthwhile attraction," Ira Mehlman, a spokeswoman for FAIR, said.

A new law recently passed in the Senate that would overhaul the U.S. immigration system. While it would make it easier for millions of undocumented immigrants that are already in the country to gain legal status and citizenship in the U.S., it would also add 700 miles of fencing along the U.S. border in an attempt to limit illegal crossings.

Have park officials for Parque EcoAlberto considered that some participants may consider the Night Walk as practice before attempting the real thing, regardless of the park administrators intentions?

PBS interview with Maribel Garcia.

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Video footage of the Night Walk from NBC.

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