I present to you the happiest place(s) on earth...potentially.
With Lionsgate set to open multiple attractions based around such films as The Hunger Games, The Twilight Saga, and Now You See Me between now and 2020, this is a good time to discuss the fact that there are plenty of cinematic properties that should be brought to life as an amusement park (or at least as an attraction in an amusement park). Here are 10, but it’s rude to give people a taste of a delicious possibility with no promise of hope, so we’ve included comparable real-life options. Buckle up!
Keanu Reeves means a lot to the public, and so would a park based around his iconic character, John Wick. John is a hitman who is brought back into the game because bad people hurt his dog, gifted to him by his late wife. With that said, sights and rides inside a park based on the film might include a series of themed epic laser tag arenas, a “Tower of Terror”-esque ride based around the film’s Continental Hotel—where hitmen call home away from home—and a giant area where you can pet and generally appreciate cute puppies.
Instead: Until the above (action-heavy) experience comes to fruition, Universal Studios is home to the frenetic Fast and Furious: Supercharged, and the incredible Transformers: The Ride 3D, both of which deliver adrenaline rushes in spades; unfortunately, neither offers cute puppies.
John Carpenter's The Thing
This place may work better as a consistent seasonal (Halloween) attraction and, given its knack for impressive body-horror effects, won’t be for the squeamish. The 1982 film, preceded by 1951’s The Thing From Another World, sees a research team battling a nasty shape-shifting alien at an Antarctic outpost. Ideally, the park’s location would have to feel as remote as possible to truly embrace its cinematic roots and each park attendant could have some sort of extremity jumping from their bodies to keep visitors on their toes. Attractions include a sort of on-rails experience (a la Toy Story Mania!) where visitors travel through the “research base” to exterminate extraterrestrial imposter(s), and escape rooms throughout the park that ask players to determine the quickest way out of a room before the alien “eats them” (sorry). It would also be great to see the REAL (incredible) practical effects from the movie on display throughout the area and some sort of snowmobile/dog sled ride, as it’s all but implied in the movie that [spoiler] a dog carried the parasite to the remote area.
Instead: The attractions at Universal Studios’ Halloween Horror Nights deliver scares year after year.
Yes, The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man exists, but how about a fully-fleshed out (yet still manageable) New York City, where all of Peter Parker’s nemeses’ lairs are on display and “crimes” are waiting to be solved by the friendly neighborhood web-slinger. The thrill attractions are endless: Travel up and down a tall building (a la Drop Tower) battling Doctor Otto Octavius aka “Doctor Octopus”) in an attempt to save a kidnapped Mary Jane or try to escape from a labyrinth of mirrors and mist, curated by supervillain and master of illusions, Mysterio. The public (me) would also appreciate a disgruntled J. Jonah Jameson over a loudspeaker, providing visitors with any directional help.
Instead: The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man on Universal’s Islands of Adventure will have to do for now.
Another case of “Yes, this is a ride, but I want to see a park,” a Tron World (I’m trademarking that now) could stand the test of time, especially now that the sci-fi property that sees a computer hacker getting pulled into a digital world is under Disney’s eye. I want a full-fledged disc arena where I can battle with my friends. I want to race a light cycle on a “grid.” I want to dance in a sleek club with robot DJs (this, in particular, doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibilities). I want a multitude of arcades where I can “unplug” and enjoy games from yesteryear. Also, is it too much to ask that the Daft Punk score from 2011’s Tron: Legacy somehow be constantly present at this is proposed property?
Instead: For now, we’ll just have to settle on Shanghai Disney’s TRON Light Cycle Power Run, which does actually have visitors racing their light cycles across the grid!
Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit
Yes, this is rumored to be in the works, but how has it not happened yet? How?! With plenty of material to pull from, a trip to Middle Earth complete with fantastical imagery, horse rides, and restaurants serving up beef-hand pies and honey tea cakes (typical Hobbit fare) is long overdue. I can also very clearly see some sort of 3D experience that places you on the back of Smaug as he races through the clouds above Rivendell.
Instead: There is a bevy of Middle-Earth tours in New Zealand, where much of the movies were filmed.
Anything From Bad Robot Productions
From the Cloverfield Universe to the recent Star Trek films to Westworld to Overlord, J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot production company has some prime properties that could one day make for a bountiful sci-fi action theme park. Star Trek rides could easily mirror Disney’s upcoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in a lot of ways, with explorations of different planets and immersive space battles (via 3D experiences), while any Cloverfield attractions could have visitors riding, running, and racing to escape evil aliens. Actually, since the Cloverfield Universe is still presumably being rolled out, the decision to add it to a theme park could be a unique marketing technique for Abrams.
Instead: Wait a minute! Could a Bad Robot park actually be happening?!
FernGully: The Last Rainforest
This enchanting 1990s animated movie-musical features fairies living in the forest and comes with plenty of positive messages about how important it is to protect our environment. As a whole, the attraction could be an oasis, but one that’s seen through the eyes of a fairy, meaning everything is incredibly large. How about an exciting 3D leaf-hopping experience that has players attempting to find shelter during an intense storm, with heavy raindrops crashing down all around them. Or an indoor roller coaster that takes riders through a path on the rainforest floor as “giant” lizards, spiders, and bees pass over them?
Instead: While there’s plenty of enchanting magic to be found at Disney and Universal Studios, an enchanting forest complete with woodland creatures is the name of the game at Efteling Park in The Netherlands.
Never have I wanted to visit a post-apocalyptic wasteland more than after watching 2015’s Oscar-winning Mad Max: Fury Road. The film’s costumes, art direction, and action are completely mesmerizing, and while there is a five-day festival called Wasteland Weekend that’s dedicated to the world of The Road Warrior, it would also be nice to have a more accessible, mainstream option. Even if Universal Studios Hollywood wanted to add a simulator that allowed visitors to get behind the wheel of a souped-up muscle car and outrun a gang of vicious bikers, I would be happy!
Instead: Wasteland Weekend, which runs September 25-29 in the Southern Californian desert this year. Or, Burning Man! But, heads up, neither options are considered particularly family-friendly…
Honestly, Anything Directed by the Wachowskis
The Wachowskis deserve a theme park. From The Matrix trilogy to Sense 8, to Jupiter Ascending (yes, I stan), to the incredibly underrated Speed Racer their work is prolific, ambitious, and visually incredible. While The Matrix did have an exhibit at Warner Bros. from 2007-2003, I could work with a laser tag room (not unlike the above-mentioned one at “John Wick World”). I see tracks and 3D experiences built around 2008’s Speed Racer, and some of the set pieces from insane space opera Jupiter Ascending deserve to be delivered to the public in some form or fashion.
Instead: There’s no lack of visual stimulation at East Science Valley in southern China, a virtual reality theme park that has a total of 35 “rides.”
Let’s Also Give James Wan His Own Horror Attraction
Why? He’s made quite a few hits, including Furious 7 and a little movie called Aquaman, since his Saw breakout. From Insidious to The Conjuring to The Curse of La Llorona, if we’re going to have a theme park dedicated to horror movies, this is the opportunity to put a successful one out there. Universal has used a few of Wan’s films in the past for Halloween Horror Nights material, but at this point, his brand is established and successful enough that horror hounds (me, at least) would show up (at any time of the year) to buy a ticket and walk through The Further, get my palm read by a psychic, and/or be scared silly by a Lights Out attraction à la Space Mountain.
Instead: Until the right people see this article and money moves are made, keep at it with Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights.