In the Judean desert, a new oasis has been drawing thousands of visitors a day. Guests are greeted with bright lights set against the desert hills, and a name that would make any English-speaker chuckle.
Magic Kass (don’t say it too fast) is Israel’s largest indoor amusement park, nestled in the industrial zone of the West Bank settlement of Ma’ale Adumim. It opened its doors in September 2021, following two years of building in the area by the Kass Group and NIS 500 million ($145 million) in development costs while the country was still living with COVID-19 restrictions and tourists were largely barred.
The theme park location, Mishor Adumim — renamed Israel Park — was strategically selected for its proximity to Israel’s most populated city, the capital Jerusalem, and its relatively short distance from Modiin, Beit Shemesh, and other cities.
Over the summer months, Magic Kass says, it is attracting about 4,000 people a day from across Israel’s diverse communities. The place is so busy during the daytime hours that a night shift was added for equipment maintenance, safety checks, and cleaning.
The wonderland offers novelty, and — at least as important — “air-conditioning through the hot summer months,” said Tomer Mor Yosef, Magic Kass’s business development director.
“And it makes for an easy and relaxed day out for parents because everything is in one place,” he told The Times of Israel in a recent interview.
Children and teenagers are, of course, Magic Kass’s target audience. The amusement park features heavily on social media networks popular with preteens and teens, with about 1.4 million likes and close to 100,000 followers on TikTok, a social network especially popular with the 12-17 age group. Magic Kass’s TikToks show the park in action, with videos shot at quirky angles that tout fun rides, and feature the park in other related content like memes and skits. Many of the TikToks have over 500,000 views and tons of comments.
On Instagram, which also has a young base, Magic Kass has close to 50,000 followers and posts multiple stories a day. The Facebook presence is much more muted.
Outside social media, there’s not been much noise surrounding Magic Kass. While there was plenty of press coverage around its opening, it has a limited marketing budget, according to Mor Yosef. And its intended audience is not reading mainstream news sites or looking at regular advertising.
Those who visit Magic Kass post pictures and videos on social media at a dizzying pace, and so the buzz around the attractions continues to grow, explained Mor Yosef.
These posts show rides, roller coasters, arcade games, soft play areas for younger ages, shows, and food (all kosher) across Magic Kass’s three stories on the 13,000-square-meter site.
The park’s operators believe that “within the next ten years, every kid in the country will visit Magic Kass because of the peer pressure to come,” he said.
Magic Kass also provides a rare space where Israel’s different communities mingle effortlessly, according to Mor Yosef.
“We have visitors from every one of Israel’s different communities. Around 55% of our visitors come from within an hour’s travel to the park (from Jerusalem and the communities around them). But the remaining 45% of our guests travel from across the country, coming to us from everywhere, from Metula to Eilat,” he said.
And the park works to accommodate their different needs.
“Everyone comes to us. A Haredi [ultra-Orthodox] school wanted to bring 2,000 girls to visit, [and] we made sure that, while they were with us, all the rides were operated by women. We’ve noticed that some of the younger Arab boys don’t speak such good Hebrew, and so we’ve made sure that we have staff who speak fluent Arabic and can accompany them on a visit,” Mor Yosef said.
This summer, its first in operation, many visitors are making their way to Magic Kass for the first time. But the park is already seeing people returning for a second and third time, said Mor Yosef.
Magic Kass is one of a limited number of indoor amusement parks worldwide. And it is not cheap. Entry prices start at NIS 100 ($28.76), for access to the main rides and the daily show. But there are many options for added extras, and QR codes make it convenient to add on extra funds throughout the day.
Those same QR codes provide operators with an endless stream of data about how people move around the park, and what they are using and spending time on. This allows them to constantly refine and upgrade the offerings in ways that suit visitors better — and increase revenue. At least five game machines have already been swapped out based on this data, said Mor Yosef.
There are also constant improvements. Within the park, new rides are being installed, including an outdoor roller coaster on the roof that will be over 20 meters high, and a pirate swing for toddlers. And the park operators also promise unique summer events. Israeli singer and influencer Anna Zak is booked to perform this summer over a number of days.
The amusement park is just the start of the Kass Group’s plans for the Ma’ale Adumim industrial zone.
In the past week, the Kass Group won a tender to purchase a further 100 dunams (100,000 square meters, 25 acres) in the industrial area adjacent to Magic Kass and to D-City, the designer shopping complex it also built in the area.
The new land will be used for hotels offering around 900 rooms, a 100,000-square-meter water park with slides, and a 4,000-seat performance space, according to the plans.
The group ambitiously aims to complete development by 2024 and invest a further NIS 500 million ($145 million). In doing so, Kass Group intends to turn a nondescript part of Ma’ale Adumim into a destination that attracts millions of visitors a year.
In a company statement, Kass Group owner Hanoch Kass said that he aims to turn the area into “a leading tourist site in Israel.”
“We are excited to make history and lay the foundation stone that will open a new tourist area with a magical desert scent, for Israelis and tourists,” said Kass.
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