|See also:||Theme Park AU, Westworld|
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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.
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.
As a Fandom
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
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
- '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
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.
- 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.
- Similiarly, a fic may be set at a theme park without being an AU if it's canon compliant.