After recently returning from a trip to Florida where I stepped through the gates of Universal Orlando, dragged my children as quickly as possible to the back of the park, and … experienced an EPIC GEEK MOMENT! When we rounded onto the first view of Hogsmeade in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (even with its inconsistencies), our entire family gaped and our inner geeks screamed, “I am home.” It was excellent! My only complaint is that there needs to be more: the common rooms, the prefects’ bathroom, Diagon Alley, Gringotts — more! Yes, some of this is in the works, but it could never be enough for the die-hards. As a side note, the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride may just be the best ride ever created.
This experience got me thinking, and asking, what other books that teens love would make good amusement parks or rides? What if there were a Lord of the Rings world? Visitors could fight off orcs in a simulation of Helm’s Deep, or walk through the Shire complete with a stop in Bag End, or ride in a boat down the River Anduin and over the Falls of Rauros or in a roller coaster through the Mines of Moria. I asked some teens for ideas, and many responded with great concepts. Most of them came from very well-known and popular books. Of course, everyone wanted a Hunger Games ride or park. Ideas included “a Capitol aircraft that flies you through the thirteen districts” or “a paint ball arena” or a “simulated arena where you fight it out with the other tributes.” Frankly, that last one scares me a bit. The Maze Runner, The Mortal Instruments, and The Forest of Hands and Teeth also merited ideas, including letting “the zombies out of the fence to chase the visitors out at closing.”
What might this look like for some newer books, like those on the YALSA awards and lists this year? We could ride though the underground of Victorian London with Dodger as he meets a plethora of historical and fictional characters in Terry Pratchett’s Dodger (2013 Printz Honor Book). What about stepping back into the carnival era by recreating Mosco’s Traveling Wonder Show from Wonder Show by Hannah Barnaby (2013 Morris Award Finalist)? Deborah Hopkinson’s Titanic: Voices from the Disaster (2013 Award for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist) could provide the inspiration for an excellent water ride complete with historical pictures from the book.
All true book fans know that sinking feeling as the last few pages are approaching and we know that “it’s nearly over.” A truly geeky-fun, albeit very expensive way, to keep those books alive and experience them in a more interactive way would be through amusement parks and rides. What “books to rides” would you love to see in a YA World?
Incarceron. The ride is a combination of a horror/fun house and the goal is to find a way to make it outside without the ride “eating” you.
…a Bog Child attraction like the fake ocean pools in aquariums. It’s hands-on and you get to discover bones among other treasures in the bog.
You’d get a simulator shaped like a dragon, and Sapphira takes you through the battle in Eragon.
A Maximum Ride ride where you shoot Erasers.
— Michelle Blank, currently reading Seraphina by Rachel Hartman