After hearing of a genuine plan to build a theme park centered around the Emperor Napoleon and the story of Freedom Land theme park in the USA, I thought it would be an interesting idea to get students to come up with a proposal for a theme park designed to entertain and educate visitors about a particular topic of study. Rides, games and facilities should all tie-in with the people, events, themes and concepts associated with the topic. These are then presented to the teacher, in role as a venture capitalist, who then declares an overall winner.
This task could either be tackled at the end of a topic, to consolidate and extend existing knowledge, or right at the start, to provide students with a focused research and transformation task which provides them with an overview of the topic in question.
Before starting a study of the Tudor period, students are put into groups and asked to discuss any theme parks they have visited, what their favourite rides were, and to identify what the actual ‘theme’ of each park was. Some of these themes are pretty obvious (Disneyland), some are more clearly didactic in nature (Europapark) and others have no discernible themes at all (Allton Towers).
Next, tell students that a millionaire businessperson is keen to invest a large sum of money with the individual or group that comes up with the theme park which most successfully matches entertainment with educational value. The various zones, rides, facilities, merchandise, logo, mascots and so on will all need to integrate effectively with the topic. The location and name of the park will also need to be considered.
- Shooting Gallery (the targest being the villains of the period or the enemies of the ruler…)
- Water ride (tied in with naval battles, famous ships, floods…)
- Costumed employees who can have their photo taken with visitors (major characters of the period, also highlighting fashions)
- Ghost train (people killed / executed during the period…)
- Gift shop (various trinkets and knick-knacks highlighting key events)
- Restaurant (popular food and drink of the time…)
- Roller coaster (particularly tumultuous events or policies…)
- Play area for kids (toys and games of the period…)
Taking it further
Rather than present students with the topic and ask them to design a theme park around it, go further by asking the students themselves to nominate a particular topic, period or theme themselves.
Get each group to produce a presentation, an advertisement, merchandise, a publicity stunt to generate awareness and other such things as outlined in the format for The Apprentice Roleplay Unit.
Stephen Samtur, FREEDOMLAND, the true history (Available at: http://backinthebronx.com/cgi-bin/dada/mail.cgi/archive/bronxezine/newest/, Last accessed 14th November 2016)
Associated Newspapers Limited, French plan ‘Napoleonland’ theme park which will stage daily reenactments of Battles of Waterloo and Trafalgar | Daily Mail Online (Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2089267/French-plan-Napoleonland-theme-park-stage-daily-reenactments-Battles-Waterloo-Trafalgar.html, Last accessed 14th November 2016)
Time Inc. Legal, Napoleonland – Top 10 Weirdest Theme Parks – TIME (Available at: http://content.time.com/time/specials/packages/article/0,28804,2106937_2106938_2106939,00.html, Last accessed 14th November 2016)