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Ask the Mary Sues: Our Dream Pop Culture Theme Parks

Will you take us to Mount Splashmore?

howl's moving castle in studio ghibli theme park

The first reactions to Disney’s Star Wars Galactic Starcruiser hotel and immersive experience are in, with fans wowed by the attention to detail, and dismayed by the high price tag. But Star Wars isn’t the only game in town: new theme parks are in opening across the globe, with the launch of Super Nintendo World and Ghibli Park, based on the films of Studio Ghibli. Many new theme parks are ramping up their offerings by focusing on immersive, LARP-style experiences, which seem tailor-made for the escape so many of us are seeking right now.

And while most of us can’t foot the bill for the Galactic Starcruiser (or for tickets to Japan), we started thinking about the parks we wish existed. With so many rich fantasy landscapes in pop culture, we couldn’t help but imagine what our dream theme park would look like.

Princess Weekes:

Sailor. Moon. I want to ride the moonlight waltz to love and justice.

Rachel Leishman:

I would very much like to go to Parks and Recreation Land. I’m well aware that it would just be a city hall and that it would just be offices, but if I got to take a picture in front of the wildflower mural and eat lunch at Paunch Burger, it’d be worth it.

Brittany Knupper:

Star Trek, but the Original Series. I want technicolor sets and neon 60s space lighting, and everyone looking amazing in the original 1966 uniforms. Along with eating in the mess hall/bar, there could be different areas for the different planets they visit , a tribble ball pit, and people could get married or what have you in front of the Guardian of Forever arch.

Kaila Hale-Stern:

Yellowjackets. let’s just all go feral, it’s time. Marvel at the beautiful tree-line and sweeping wilderness until a chill starts to fill the air. Then it’s time for a drink of berry liquor in the cabin bar—make sure you don’t miss the séance in the attic! Try your hunting skills by shooting pellets at the (fake) deer and get ready to race through the woods to the sound of approaching wolves! Splash around in the lake water-ride afterward before it’s time to attend the exciting Antler Queen ceremony.

Leah Marilla Thomas:

I want to do an A Series Of Unfortunate Events escape room. Let me go full VFD geeky adventure mode. There’s enough material for a whole ASOUE theme park and resort. The aesthetic is perfect for an immersive experience, and one of the books is set in a hotel, after all. But the franchise is so full of puzzles and literary references that all you’d really need is an escape room… or a series of them.

Chelsea Steiner:

Ever since I saw the 2013 romantic comedy Austenland, I have longed for an immersive Jane Austen experience. I want the fancy balls, the manor homes, the rolling green hills. And yes, I also want Colin Firth in a wet shirt. Give me the Regency era experience!

What’s your fantasy theme park? Let us know in the comments!

(image: Studio Ghibli)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. An pop culture journalist since 2012, her work has appeared on Autostraddle, AfterEllen, and more. Her beats include queer popular culture, film, television, republican clownery, and the unwavering belief that 'The Long Kiss Goodnight' is the greatest movie ever made. She currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, 2 sons, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.