Tuesday, December 29, 2009

So what's on the agenda for this theme park?

In the last few posts, I sort of convinced myself (if no one else) that designing and developing some sort of themed entertainment concept in my part of the world (the Chicagoland area) is possible and while success isn't a given, it isn't totally impossible, either.

I also argued that there were only two types of layout that would work. One would be to more or less copy EPCOT's basic idea of pavilions separated by beautifully decorated common areas and walkways. All "attractions" are located indoors, with perhaps a few notable exceptions (which haven't been determined at all). The other model would be a totally enclosed structure, sort of like Mall of America, or like what developers tried to do with Old Chicago, a theme park in Bolingbrook, IL.

And in the last post, I considered (very superficially) the reasons for failures of amusement parks around the country, and decided that most of it had to do with the places getting stale. Any park of this sort, or even any museum or attraction, has to depend on repeat business. Change is going to have to drive the attendance of these types of customers/guests. The Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago is popular because they are constantly changing the special exhibits and the films that can be viewed there, and because the permanent exhibits occasionally get updated or redone completely in some cases. (For example, there has always been an exhibit on biology, with a heart model you can walk through, on the mezzanine which has been totally redone, and which my family and I will likely see next weekend.)

I have a couple of ideas for content of this project. I think they can be made sufficiently broad to encompass a lot of quality exhibits and attractions. Whether they can support the kind of change that would be required remains to be thought through.

About a year ago, I posted that we had visited Legoland Schaumburg, located near the very large enclosed shopping mall called Woodfield. Legoland in Illinois is a large enclosed space in a strip mall. They charge something between 20 and 30 bucks to get in. They have a walk through attraction at the beginning, with all sorts of large scale Lego creations. They have a dark ride through a Lego-based story (I can't recall the content now), they have a 3-D theater with an animated Lego-type story, they have a "Lego Factory Tour" where you crowd into a smallish room and see Lego's being "created". There is a play area where kids can build with Legos and run their creations on ramps, similar to the facility in Downtown Disney. There is a snack bar, and a Lego store. There are also, spread throughout the facility, several large scale Lego figures built by their artists.

When I look at what they have to offer, it doesn't sound like much. We'll have to do better than this in our theme park. We have to offer unique attractions that entertain families, that can hold the interest of the teens, and that can be run indoors, since we can't do any massive outdoor types of thrill rides, at least not to start out. It would be cool to add something "like" Rock'n'Roller Coaster later, perhaps, as one of those upgrades, something themed to our park of course.

I don't know how much of my ideas I want to post here. Probably I should just post everything, since I'm non exactly inundated with readers...it's not like anything I post is very likely to end up in the hands of someone else anyway. ("Hey, let's go read that Disney Fan Ramblings blog to get ideas for our new entertainment concept! He's got the best ideas and he's putting them out for us to borrow from freely!!!" Yeah, that's likely to happen...more likely is "Look at the lame ideas this guy has! At last we get some comic relief!" ) Still, I think I'll just keep arguing with myself here and sort of working some of this stuff out in print. Look for more posts on this thread sometime soon...

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