What will the purported Hunger Games theme park be like?
by Nick Davies
As you might have heard by now, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer announced last week that there’s a very real possibility of a theme park based on The Hunger Games books and movies. Etan Vlessing writes for the Hollywood Reporter that Feltheimer discussed the possibility on a conference call on Friday, saying, “We have been approached in two different territories about potential theme park opportunities, which gives you a sense of the cultural impact of this franchise… We are excited about those opportunities and are pursuing them.”
In the event that such a park becomes a reality, it’s sure to be somewhat sanitized — focusing on adventure and heroism rather than the grimmer dystopic elements of Suzanne Collins’s novels. And that would be a pity. There are already plenty of nice, friendly theme parks out there that don’t force children to confront their own mortality, so this is an opportunity to offer them something new and exciting. Here’s a list of ideas to make a Hunger Games park as crazy and awesome as possible.
- Cutthroat competition. Obviously we can’t have kids literally killing each other with knives and bows & arrows. Instead, every person who enters the park can be assigned to one of the twelve districts of Panem, and twenty-four “lucky” kids will be selected at random as tribute…just like in the books! Those kids will be armed with paintball guns and chase each other down throughout the day, and once both tributes from a district have been paintballed, everyone assigned to that district has to leave the park immediately. This will have the bonus effect of decreasing crowds and lines as the day goes on.
- Panem Plaza. An EPCOT-style area featuring pavilions for each of the districts of Panem. Highlights for District 12 will include Peeta’s Bakery, Moonshine by Haymitch, and the Katniss Grill, where freshly-hunted squirrel and rabbit (and, on a good day, venison) replace the more traditional fare of burgers and hot dogs.
- Meet the characters. Costumed characters are an important amusement park tradition, and the Hunger Games heroes will be instantly recognizable to young readers. Instead of smiling princesses and cartoon creatures, though, it’ll be a Jennifer Lawrence lookalike looking weary and anxious, a Woody Harrelson type stumbling around drunk, and fancy Capitol denizens sneering at the more poorly dressed park guests.
- Into the Mines! The exclamation point makes it fun…right? An indoor roller coaster that puts kids in a mine cart and sends them crashing through a wild ride, while also giving them a harsh glimpse at what it’s like to work in the coal mines of District 12.
- The Hall of Tributes. Inspired by Disney’s Hall of Presidents, but with better, more gruesome animatronics. Visitors can see reproductions of notable Hunger Games competitors, complete with their weapons of choice and/or fatal wounds that gave them their notoriety.
- The Cornucopia. Replacing the traditional gift shop where visitors pay money for stuffed animals and t-shirts, this centrally located bazaar is a free-for-all where the fastest and strongest can grab Panem-themed swag. It’ll be replenished throughout each day, but the best stuff is put out first thing in the morning, so early birds will reap the rewards!
- Would You Survive? An interactive arena where kids have their height & weight measured, try their hand at archery and martial arts, and complete an obstacle course. At the end, they can buy a souvenir card with their photo and all their stats, stamped with a red “NO” or green “YES,” predicting how they’d do in the actual Hunger Games. (Most of the time, the answer will be, “NO.”)
It’s not extremely likely that an actual park will go this dark with the theme, but I’ll continue to hope and wish.
Nick Davies is a publicist at Melville House.