|See also:||Theme Park AU, Westworld|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Theme Parks are a form of immersive entertainment. Their utilisation of theming differentiates them from traditional amusement parks and enables them to embrace storytelling through a variety of different sensory stimuli: audio, visual, olfactory (smell), touch. This can be achieved via anything from animatronics to smell pods, landscaping to physical set pieces. Because of this, theming is often a big part of what makes these parks so attractive to fans.
Some attractions and theme parks incorporate original stories, whilst others use IPs, including Star Wars, Harry Potter and DC. Many parks have a mixture of both.
The story drives everything from the individual attractions to the overarching theme, concepts, and story of each theme park. This is what makes and sets apart theme parks from amusement parks. As I like to say, all theme parks are amusement parks, but amusement parks are not theme parks.
Fans of theme parks, and the digital and real life spaces they create and inhabit, have many similiarities to more conventional forms of fandom. The increasing incorporation of IPs into the world of theme parks in recent years has only led to an even greater overlap between them.
Some theme parks have more of a fandom than others:
- Disney Parks
- Alton Towers
- Evermore Park
Some rollercoasters feature theming simply on the rollercoaster itself, others form part of a wider story told through both the coaster and the surrounding land it resides in.
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad - Disney Parks
- The lore behind the Paris version of this coaster in particular is incorporated into the wider story of the land it resides in.
- Expedition Everest
Some theme park fandoms, such as Alton Towers, create anthropomorphised versions of rollercoasters.
- 'The Smiler' in particular seems to be somewhat of a favourite, likely at least partially due to its somewhat unnerving and creepy lore involving an organisation called 'The Ministry of Joy'.
Dark Rides are a form of indoor attraction that often involve immersive storytelling through the use of set pieces, screens, and special effects. Specific fandoms exist for some dark rides, most notably:
- Pirates of the Caribbean (attraction)
- Haunted Mansion (and it's variations: Phantom Manor and Mystic Manor)
As a Medium
Theme parks might have explicit narrative, where the story is told to the guest through verbal or written means as in The High in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride at Universal's Islands of Adventure. They may have implicit narrative, where the story is told to the guest through visual or environmental means such as the Tree of Life Awakenings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Parks may also have interpretive narrative, where the meaning of a story is meant to be determined by the guest as in Efteling’s Dreamflight. In the same park, stories can be told through varying mediums from architecture to film, animatronics to music.
'Theme park storytelling' - Carissa Baker on InPark Magazine
- 'Storytelling in Theme Park Attractions: Narrative in Motion' - TheWatcher on The Watcher's Archives
Fictional Theme Parks
- Phoenix Parks - Dead End: Paranormal Park
- Spooky Island - Scooby Doo
Fandoms for Adaptations
Theme Park Inspired Fanworks
- Harry Potter's World of Magic Theme Park - a website where fans of Harry Potter could showcase their own ideas for a Harry Potter themed theme park. This site predates the real "Wizarding World of Harry Potter" park by several years.
- Mr. Bones' Wild Ride - a fan-made coaster from Rollercoaster Tycoon turned meme.
- Theme Park AU - An AU in which characters interact and exist at a theme park. Single Rider AU is a version of this AU based on a popular Tumblr post about how single riders in theme park queues would be paired up.
- Similarly, a fic may be set at a theme park without being an AU if it's canon compliant.
from the Star Wars zine I Don't Care What You Smell issue #6, A.G. Steyn: "Alderland"
from the Blake's 7 zine The Bizarro Zine
Resources and Further Information
- "Amusement Parks tag - Ao3". Archived from the original on 2022-04-26.
- "Roller Coasters tag - Ao3". Archived from the original on 2022-06-05.
Videos and Channels
- "Theme Park Wiki". Archived from the original on 2022-05-20.