Welcome to a land where the fun never stops!
We have six thrill rides and four hundred gift shops!
In the real world, every kid and Super Bowl MVP
wants to go to Disneyland
. Or Universal Studios
, etc. Going there is a fantastic experience, with a plethora of themed attractions.
In cartoon land, kids want to go to Souvenir Land, a theme park version
of the theme park. This experience is... less amazing. While Souvenir Land is almost always treated
as if it was the world's equivalent of the Disney parks, it tends to be noticeably less impressive than anything Disney or Universal has built. It is more on the level of Busch Gardens or the smaller regional theme parks that mushroomed in The Fifties
but started fading out in The Eighties
Other than the almost-mandatory monorail and the occasional train ride, there are usually exactly three types of rides:
- Roller coaster. Sometimes steel, but usually wooden. Always completely outdoors with the track supports obvious (i.e. from a distance, it is immediately recognizable as a roller coaster). This doesn't quite fit Universal or Disney— Universal coasters nearly all feature inversions (which are impossible on wooden coasters), while Disney parks almost (but not quite) always hide the track in some way, whether by putting it inside a building (Space Mountain) or by theming (Big Thunder Mountain Railroad). Six Flags does use this sort of coaster at its parks, often playing up the nostalgia angle, but typically has steel coasters alongside them.
- Boat rides. In real life, these take two forms: rides that keep trying to splash you, usually with a big drop at the end, and rides that just use the boat as a form of transportation to show you scenery (Pirates of the Caribbean is one of these). Souvenir Land boat rides look like the latter for most of the ride, then suddenly throw in a big drop at the end (possibly the result of misremembering Splash Mountain). Jungle Cruise is frequently parodied. Oddly, the inevitable "It's a Small World" parody (which usually features incredibly low-quality puppets that Walt probably would have fired you for trying to put in his park, or super-high-quality puppets that turn out to be enslaved children) is rarely one of these, usually just happening out in the open.
- Fair-type circling rides (like Dumbo The Flying Elephant or Astro Orbiter in the real Disney parks). These usually will be depicted as a huge deal, a major attraction on par with the roller coasters, and everyone in the group will want to ride, except for the people who get squeamish on thrill rides. This is the most obvious sign of the underlying difficulty, which is that the writers have probably not been to Disneyland or Disney World or whichever since they were little kids, at which point these probably seemed legitimately impressive. (Indeed, Dumbo is notorious for being so popular with little kids that its small per-ride capacity ensures looooong waits.)
There will generally be no shows or novelty format movies in theaters, though there will occasionally be street entertainment. There will be no restaurants — all food comes from little carts (and characters will sometimes comment that it is expensive, which is Truth in Television
To amuse yourself, take out some maps of the Walt Disney World theme parks (there are four on the property, and beyond that two water parks and more besides) and cross out every restaurant, every theater, and every ride that isn't a roller coaster, boat ride, or Dumbo-type ride.
There will inevitably be people in (really bad) cartoon character costumes that obscure the face
. They will be free to wander aimlessly around the park without getting mobbed by little kids and disturbingly determined parents. note
There will usually be no sign of "face characters", who are actors/actresses portraying characters who look enough like normal humans that they don't need masks or anything along those lines (think of Aladdin, for instance, or the various Disney Princesses
). The park may have a mascot character whose face can be seen absolutely everywhere
If there are any specific ride parodies, they will almost always be of older rides — you'll rarely see a parody of, for instance, Epcot's Test Track. This has the side effect that, sometimes, the show will parody something that isn't actually there anymore. Again, this is probably because the writers are working not from a recent guidemap but from their childhood memories. Such parodies will typically be fitted into one of the aforementioned three ride types — if there was
a parody of Test Track, for instance, it'd probably be a roller coaster.
Frequently, rides will empty into a gift shop. This is Truth in Television
for both Disney and Universal, where any ride of any significance has its own gift shop which is usually conveniently located right where you exit the ride (although some rides built before the concept took hold, such as The Haunted Mansion
, have to make do with keeping a merchandise cart nearby). If there is a parade, it will probably be a) in the daytime and b) clearly based on the Main Street Electrical Parade (which is at night
, thus the lights that make it "Electrical"; alternate versions of the parade include Fantillusion at Disneyland Paris, Dreamlights at Tokyo Disneyland, and Spectromagic at Walt Disney World).
Typically avoided in live action, since it's easier to get permission to use an existing theme park than to build your own for the sake of what's usually just one episode. For a time in the mid-1990s, after ABC
was bought by Disney, virtually every sitcom on the network did at least one episode
at one of the Disney Theme Parks
in the form of an Enforced Plug
. (Nowadays, ABC uses grand prize episodes of Americas Funniest Home Videos
as their primary Disney shill.)
Remember where you're parked, and turn down your sun visor or they will
paste a bumper sticker on your car.
If it's obviously terrible and not even enjoyable, it's a Crappy Carnival
who's going to rip you off without the merchandise.
contrast the Amusement Park of Doom
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Anime & Manga
- Happy Place in Dogby Walks Alone.
- Magical Land from Azumanga Daioh seems to be a big deal, but all that's ever heard of are its rollercoasters. (Watch how Sakaki reacts to it when you see the souvenir picture.)
- Fairy Park in Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2. It's a park designed around the Mascots of the series. And it's ran by the Mascots, as well.
- Smile Land, a quite philosophical take on one of these (with a side of Take That), is the setting of episode 19 of Ergo Proxy.
- DC Comics has Winkyworld (obviously Disneyland as there's also EuroWinky), Funny Stuff Park (named after a defunct DC humour title, and with cartoon characters from that book) and Happyland (which similarly has Sugar and Spike on the logo, but is actually a front for Intergang).
The DC villains, The Extremists, were originally robots created for Wacky World, a theme park from an Earth-like world in another dimension. They were based on real villains from that world and animated by the only surviving member of the "real" group.
Survivors of this world, now on ours, treat Mitch Wacky as some sort of god. Too bad Mitch got his neck stepped on. Ouch.
- Finder has many domed cities dotted around its world, one of which (conspicuously the most intact and well-maintained) is entirely taken up by Munkeyworld, an enormous distillation of all that is best and most over the top about theme parks. The whole place is very carefully managed to make sure the customers are kept in a prime state of consumerism, right down to making sure potential employees meet a set of non-offensive criteria, and whipping up the crowds into a hunt for mischief makers like Jaeger, with fabulous prizes for the one who catches him!
- Fun-Fun Mountain (and other parks with the "Fun-Fun" brand) from FoxTrot was the trope namer when it had a different name.
Films — Animation
- The kingdom of Duloc from Shrek has some Disneyland-like elements, particularly the "Main Street"-type entrance and a "Small World" parody, as part of Jeffrey Katzenberg's Take That against his former employer.
- Fun World in Bebe's Kids. Though the Robin Harris comedy routine the movie is based on takes them to Disney World, the film was not made by Disney.
- A Goofy Movie: An extremely brutal version (which is a Disney production, if the title character doesn't give it away). Goofy takes his son Max to Lester Possum's Park, which is a No Celebrities Were Harmed version of Mickey Mouse (who had a cameo in the previous song number). Along with the cartoon costumes, they also brutally make fun of the Country Bears Jamboree attraction. The attack seems less like self-parody and more like extreme Creative Differences with the people running the park.
- The bizarre theme park in Despicable Me, in which Gru is forced to ride a crazy roller coaster along with the girls in his care, and in which he destroys the game stand and "wins" Agnes her stuffed toy unicorn.
- Pretty Cure All Stars DX 2 takes place in a Pretty Cure theme park by the ocean.
Films — Live-Action
- Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (the Johnny Depp version) has a parody of "Small World".
- Wallyworld from National Lampoons Vacation, filmed at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Valencia, CA.
- Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra: One of the Egyptian cities is apparently this.
"Wanna buy a sphinx?"
- The main setting and source of the title in Adventureland.
- Zombieland has Pacific Playland. Two of the main characters put in a lot of effort to get there but it pretty much looks like a standard carnival. The Pacific Playland scenes were filmed at Wild Adventures in Valdosta, Georgia. Wild Adventures is basically one-third water park, one-third second-tier zoo, and one-third this.
- The Way Way Back takes place in a water park that hasn't been updated since the early '80s.
- Escape from Tomorrow is a horror film about a man who'd just been fired going on a family vacation to a Disney theme park, and slowly losing his mind in the process as the park's shiny happy facade slips away. Notable for having actually been filmed at Disneyland and Disney World — without Disney's permission. (They backed down from trying to get the film pulled from release after realizing that this would just make everybody want to see it.)
- Serutanland from Bored of the Rings, home of Dickey Dragon.
- Averted in the mystery novel Dreamworld— the titular theme park is obviously the Brand X version of Disney World, so the level of technology, variety of attractions and attention to detail is on par with the real thing.
- Gratuity's mother in The True Meaning of Smekday loves "Happy Mouse Kingdom", an obvious parody of Disney. Subverted in that it's probably nicer than the actual Disney.
- The Gift, in the Diogenes Club story "The Gypsies in the Wood" is a Souvenir Land in Victorian London, based on a series of books about faeries.
- One episode of That '70s Show had the cast visiting a glorified carnival called Fun Town. There's a fair amount of Truth in Television surrounding this one. Wisconsin (where the show is set) is something of a tourist attraction mecca, and both permanent and traveling carnival attractions are long standing. For example Bay Beach has existed for over a century.
- Wesaysoland of Dinosaurs is an absurdly pathetic version of this. The rides are nearly all under construction, it costs 6 dollars for ice on a stick (minus the ice), there's a nine-hour waiting list for strollers and the mascot is Moolah the Cash Cow. The whole thing was thrown together in a day to take advantage of the newly invented concept of vacation.
- After being forced by ABC (read: Disney) to do an episode set at Walt Disney World, the producers of Roseanne immediately turned around and did an episode about a creepy Naziesque theme park that brainwashes its employees.
- The original opening montage for Step by Step features the cast visiting an amusement park. The actual park in question is Six Flags Magic Mountain, located an hour north of Los Angeles and nowhere near the ocean - but that didn't stop the show's producers from utilizing some of the worst special effects ever to paste in a beach to cover up the parking lot of the actual park.
- Parodied in Father Ted with 'Funland' the world's worst amusement park. Among the rides are 'The Ladder of Death' (climb up a ladder) and 'The Tunnel of Goats'. The 'Spider Baby' (a spider in a pram) is probably apocryphal though.
- Disney Theme Parks
- Bizarre Real Life example: In Disney's Animal Kingdom park, there is a small area within the "Dinoland U. S. A." section of the park. And it is essentially the Souvenir Land version of Animal Kingdom. The ride Primeval Whirl is a parody of Dinosaur, the other thrill ride in that subsection of the park, and Triceratops Spin takes on Dumbo. Who says Disney doesn't have a sense of humor?
- Jungle Cruise is a parody of itself. Well, more accurately, the modern Jungle Cruise is a parody of the original Jungle Cruise — while the ride was originally played straight (Walt Disney didn't want to deal with all the complexities real animals would cause in a small area of a park, so he went with robotic ones), the current version is basically one big comedy routine having fun at the scenery's expense, especially in light of guests being able to ride among actual animals over at the aforementioned Animal Kingdom. Sample lines:
"Do you know what kind of flamingos those are? They're plastic
flamingos, that's what."
"I wonder where this tunnel comes out... well, we're in Disney World, so probably at a gift shop
"Parents, don't forget your children. Forgotten children will be taught to sing and have their feet glued to the floor of 'It's A Small World
"Have you ever seen the backside of a waterfall? Well, I have. Day... after day... after day..." (starts to cry
- This routine was the inspiration and main subject matter of the "Weird Al" Yankovic song "Skipper Dan", which is about an acting prodigy who somehow ended up running the Jungle Cruise ride as his permanent career.
- Also, at night, they'll do a parody of Fantasmic!
- Some of the more recent Disney theme parks, Disney's California Adventure, Walt Disney Studios Paris, and Hong Kong Disneyland, have been accused of this due to opening with a limited number of attractions (the first had a lot of off-the-shelf carnival-style rides and clones of shows and rides from the Florida Disney World complex, and many Disney park signatures like Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted Mansion and Splash Mountain haven't yet made it to Hong Kong) but a full contingent of shops and restaurants — i.e., you pay to get in, and then there's not much to do that doesn't require more money.
- Warner Brothers Movie World in Australia, is just a minor step up from being this.
- Lagoon, in Farmington, Utah. Their old wooden coaster is still THE big attraction, there's a large carnival-midway area, and they do have a flying ride similar to Dumbo. There are a couple of modern inversion rides, but they seem to exist solely to justify the existence of the gift shop.
- If this site is any indication, Nara Dreamland in Japan played this trope straight as an arrow before closing down in 2006 and subsequently becoming an Abandoned Area occasionally scouted by urban explorers. Monorail? Check. Theming that looks like they bought it from Disney's surplus warehouse? Check. Rides that are even cheaper knockoffs of their Disney counterparts than a Dingo Pictures film, and others that are completely out of place? Check and check, please!
- The Singapore Zoo is not even a theme park, and yet this is in full force. It's hard to turn anywhere and not see a stand or proper store selling stuffed toy animals, and there are themed restaurants and souvenir photo opportunities aplenty. Not to mention "Ah Meng" everything — Ah Meng being the late orangutan mascot of the zoo.
- In The Curse of Monkey Island, the Demon Pirate Lechuck converts Monkey Island into "The Carnival of the Damned" as part of his scheme to recruit unknowing pirates into his undead army (since the first thing a sailor on shore leave is ever looking for is, of course, a family-oriented theme park). In the endgame, Guybrush is transformed into a seven-year-old version of himself and has to deal with rigged carnival games, corrupt mascots in costume and a snow-cone stand attendee with unnerving armpit hair.
- In Ace Attorney Investigations, the Gatewater Hotel chain of the earlier games has now become a far larger corporation, opening its own theme park called 'Gatewater Land'. It contains a haunted house and western-themed area along with an artificial lake where parkgoers including a certain blue-suited, pointy-haired lawyer and his friends can go boating. Since it's partially funded by the police, it also has the Blue Badger and company as its mascots, and finding out exactly who is in all those badger suits is a large part of the third case.
- In Backyard Skateboarding, there is Shark Belly Shores, which is a theme park with two big rides: the Kooky Kraken (a rollercoaster which ends at a bench) and a carousel. There is also a water wheel and half-pipes for skating.
- RollerCoaster Tycoon lets you build one of these. Since the game relies entirely on the numeric excitement ratings of individual rides to judge how well guests like them, you can more or less get away with it.
- Ryan Amusements in BioShock 2. There is exactly one ride, a Haunted Mansion style ride that's purportedly designed to scare kids into never wanting to leave Rapture, but consists entirely of a series of Objectivist lectures, illustrated with exaggerated animatronic scenes. The rest of the park consists of a "Hall of the Future" that has all of three scenes and forces guests to backtrack to get out, a gift shop that either has been thoroughly looted or carries a paltry amount of merchandise, and a restaurant. Granted, it's still exactly the right size for a single level in a BioShock game, which is what mattered, but there aren't even any of the usual blocked-off passageways to give it a sense of originally being bigger.
- Duke Nukem 3D Atomic Edition has Babeland, which includes all three types of rides mentioned above in various stages of completion. And pretty much nothing else either.
- Banjo-Tooie has Witchyworld, a decrepit, unsafe theme park known for terrible sanitation, bribing authorities, and employing pickpockets. Oddly enough, Boggy's family still thinks it's a pretty awesome place.
- Tiger Balm Garden in Vaguely Recalling JoJo is also called Polnaland. The workers there even have Polnareff's signature hairstyle. Dio, Giorno and Diavolo are seen in the background, having a good time at Polnaland.