I remember driving down to a beach in Nonong Castro with my family when I was about eight years old. A friend of Papa owns the resort, so we used to go back a couple of times more. I would play by the black shores, make sand castles, and collect seashells. Then on our way home, we would stop by a colorful castle along the road, take photos with the mighty dragon that guards the castle, and buy some espasol for pasalubong.
When I used to drop by as a child, I never wondered about the story behind the castle since my Papa used to tell me that it’s a private property and there was no chance we could enter the gates of Fantasy World. So, I learned to admire the castle and the enormous tree houses from a distance.
But here we are now, twelve years later, photos of a certain ‘abandoned castle’ and ‘Philippines’ very own Disneyland’ have surfaced on social media. The place was finally open to the public. Today, the castle I used to admire from a distance now welcomes tourists from different parts of the country to walk along its very halls and take photos of its magnificent towers.
I honestly did not see this day coming. Entering Fantasy World’s gates was one of my wildest dreams as a child. When I was finally inside the castle, strolling by its gardens and admiring its walls, I was fascinated as I would have been when I was eight years old.
The castle do not look as lonely and abandoned as it looked years ago. It is now filled with color and wonder. Although still empty, the place has never been this alive. Children would run along the halls, tourists taking photos of every corner of the castle, there are also costumes for rent, and a few vendors of food and beverages.
I am really glad I get to visit the place with my family. The few hours I spent walking around the castle were truly magical. I am certain that the eight year old me was beyond happy for a dream come true.
We also stopped by this dainty coffee shop that houses a beautiful collection of miniature Volkswagen vehicles! I forgot the name of the café but it is located just a few kilometers away from Fantasy World.
After a few drinks (of iced coffee) and some snacks, we headed back home–full of newly-gained happy memories.