Hi guys. Back in the 70s and 80s, many theme parks were built depicting certain regions of the world, such as a particular continent or even the entire world in some cases. The most famous of these is arguably Disney’s Epcot, which opened in 1982 and has many different “pavilions” dedicated to different countries around the world. But there are numerous other famed examples, as well, such as Europa Park, which displays many different countries in Europe, and the Busch Gardens parks, which display the different countries/regions of Europe (Williamsburg) and Africa (Tampa), respectively. Even places like Phantasialand and Chessington World of Adventures have lands displaying different regions of the world; for instance, Phantasialand has lands like Deep in Africa, Mexico and China, and Chessington has Mexicana and Wild Asia, and a few years back had lands like Mystic East and Transylvania. The list of parks incorporating different regions of the world within their theming is endless, and I could go on for days listing them! However, the question I wanted to ask was; do you think that rides and parks themed to regions of the world still have a place in the modern day theme park industry? I think there are numerous arguments as to why world-themed rides and parks don’t necessarily have a place in theme parks today, and also arguments as to why they still do. I’ll go through what I personally view as the key arguments for each side of the coin. Why they do have a place in the modern theme park industry It’s still really important to celebrate other cultures, and world-themed attractions often do this brilliantly when done sensitively and are well-researched in terms of their knowledge of the culture being represented. For instance, I know that the designers of Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida actually travelled to the countries being represented in that park in order to be able to represent them more accurately, and that park’s representation of other cultures appears very sympathetic to the culture and a very accurate depiction of the countries being represented. The native folklore and culture of many countries can often lend themselves to very compelling ride and area themes, that are far more than a simple caricature of a country. Folklore and cultural elements of countries can often be used to brilliant effect within theme parks, creating some of the most compelling attraction storylines ever devised, and a romanticised/fantasised take on the culture of a certain country or place can often seem just as magical and fantastical as a fictional theme. Why they don’t have a place in the modern day theme park industry Many world-themed rides and parks were built in an era where air travel was more expensive and less commonly available, so the intention behind building them was to give people a slice of certain countries without actually needing to travel to them. For instance, I remember hearing in an old promo for Busch Gardens Williamsburg that the park was built to give Virginians a slice of Europe without them actually needing to go to Europe. Epcot was built to a similar end, and was designed to give tourists a slice of many different cultures in an era when air travel was less widely available. Now, though, air travel is very widely available to many different countries (or at least, it was prior to COVID grounding flights), so it does beg the question of; why would you go and see a theme park representation of a certain country when you can quite easily see the real thing? Cultural appropriation has become a much greater societal issue, especially in recent years, and stereotyping certain cultures in certain ways has become far less accepted than it perhaps used to be. I know that many world-themed rides have come under fire for the way they represent certain cultures in recent years; for instance, the Jungle Cruise attractions at the Disney parks have been retooled due to apparent racist elements, and the Adventureland area at Europa Park is soon to be rethemed for similar reasons. Efteling also got into trouble about the way that Carnaval Festival depicts certain cultures, and even the likes of Epcot’s World Showcase have come under fire from some in recent years. These days, parks need to be more sensitive about how they portray certain cultures, so the often somewhat stereotype-heavy nature of some world-themed attractions isn’t necessarily politically correct in the modern world, where we are trying to be more inclusive of all cultures and accept everybody for who they are. Personally, I think that world-themed rides and parks do still have a place in the modern-day theme park industry. As long as they are sensitively executed and well-researched, I personally think that world-themed attractions are still very relevant and very compelling. I’m a huge fan of the concept of a world-themed park, and I loved visiting places such as Epcot and Animal Kingdom!