At some point during the last decade, amusement parks went from being simply sources of amusement (it is, after all, in the name) to places of escape and fantasy (and, also, to being loosely arranged under the “theme park” banner). Blame Walt Disney for it – or, alternately, thank him, because before that, most amusement parks were of the “weee, roller coaster!” variety and were seriously lacking in princess castles and ice creams shaped like mice – and prepare to dish out some more dough for a whole new twist on the immersive fantasy element of modern amusement.
It’s no coincidence that movie studios have co-opted amusement parks as part of expanded marketing plans to wring out more cashola from dedicated fans looking to add to their experience with a beloved movie – Disney World and Disneyland are obviously built on the cinematic universe the studio has created, while Universal has also used that idea to make their own theme parks, complete with ever-changing attractions that capitalize on their biggest current hits (like getting rid of their super-cool Backdraft ride and putting in a massive Transformers attraction), and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to sound like the greatest idea ever dreamed – but now other parks are using recognizable movie franchises to round out their offerings in some unexpected ways.
Basically, brace yourself for a Hunger Games theme park attraction, because it’s happening. The theme here is government control and dead people. Bring the kids!
Deadline reports that Lionsgate is partnering with Dubai Parks and Resorts to bring both The Hunger Games and their Step Up franchise to the company’s Motiongate Dubai, a “Hollywood-themed park slated to open in Dubai in October 2016.” Motiongate Dubai will include a special Lionsgate “zone” that will include both rides and a “retail facility” (so, a store?) “inspired” by the studio’s blockbuster Hunger Games franchise. Moreover, the new park will also boast a live stage show “based on Step Up: All In and Step Up: Revolution, the two most recent films in that franchise.”
This is my Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
A Step Up stage show makes perfect sense, simply because the dance-heavy films are all about actual dance performances, and there’s no more immersive way to bring that to a large audience in an amusement park venue. The only way to make a Step Up ride would be, my God, to somehow make some sort of giant dancing robot and load his/her body up with scads of riders who can experience the magic of dancing through said robot, and sweet Jesus, we’ve cracked it, we’ve got it, call Dubai! They could make some sort of joint effort with Universal and co-opt the Transformers ride to include dancing over battling. We may have also just invented a new movie franchise.
The Hunger Games section doesn’t seem as obvious, however. Of course it makes sense to translate the popular franchise into a new realm – flush with cash! – but it’s harder to imagine exactly what these supposed rides will look like. A zip through the arena? A rollercoaster ride that’s styled like the train that runs through Panem? A laser shooting game that challenges participants to off their friends and loved ones? The possibilities are myriad, but they’re also kind of upsetting in their implications (much like the movie series itself). At least there will be a handy “retail facility” for everyone to drop some cash at, one likely filled to the prim with pint-sized bows and arrows, burnt bread paperweights, and a stuffed Buttercup that yowls when you squeeze her. Amusement has never been so…strange.
Motiongate will reportedly be four million square feet (which sounds impressive, until you break it down into square miles, which will clock in around 1.4 square miles; for comparison’s sake, Disney World is 43 square miles) and is expected to host three million annual visits. Motiongate is part of sprawling amusement park complex that will also include Legoland Dubai and Bollywood Parks Dubai. I’d like one ticket now, please.