The Theme Park Version

"In your text, treat Africa as if it were one country. It is hot and dusty with rolling grasslands and huge herds of animals and tall, thin people who are starving. Or it is hot and steamy with very short people who eat primates. Don't get bogged down with precise descriptions... The continent is full of deserts, jungles, highlands, savannahs and many other things, but your reader doesn't care about all that, so keep your descriptions romantic and evocative and unparticular."
Binyavanga Wainaina, "How to Write About Africa"

Take a classic tale or even reality itself. Strip away all the complexities, boiling the source material down to a few tropes and a barely coherent plot. Congratulations! You now have the perfect blueprint for cashing in on the original's success. The characters are flatter than in the original, and the tropes have lost their justification, but surely the fans won't mind. Another word for this concept is a "simulacrum".

Quite often, the writers producing the Theme Park Version have entirely misread the original, and are relying on other people's interpretations.

This isn't always a bad thing, however. A simplification of the rules, characters, and activities present in the media can be used to help streamline the experience, as long as it is used carefully and deliberately. While dumbing down the material means that it isn't as complex or interesting, it also trims out a lot of Exposition, making the media either more accessible or less restricted.

Compare with Adaptation Decay, Adaptation Distillation, Flanderization, Lost in Imitation, Small Reference Pools, We're Still Relevant, Dammit!, Cowboy BeBop at His Computer, and Popcultural Osmosis; contrast with Pragmatic Adaptation. Theme parks themselves have their own Theme Park Version — Souvenir Land.

See also: Flynning, Fluffy Cloud Heaven, Fire and Brimstone Hell, Plot Tumor, Hollywood Atlas.

If you're concerned about avoiding falling into this, give this page a read.

Examples:

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     Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • The '90s Anti-Hero is the theme park version of the acclaimed graphic novels Watchmen and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns.
  • The comic versions of Silent Hill, where the complexity of Silent Hill has been reduced to endless gun-battles, incoherent story lines, and hideous artwork. Arguably, the same can be said of the games past Silent Hill 4, which are designed by different creative teams than the originals. However, this may also be described as a developing case of Adaptation Decay.
  • Urbanus did this to the Netherlands in "De laatste Hollander" (the last Dutchman). And generally to Belgium itself, too (being a Belgian comic).
  • Judge Dredd has been criticised for using national stereotypes for all countries other than the United States (including Britain, interestingly). A couple, particularly Britain and Japan, have since been fleshed out somewhat due to a number of spinoffs taking place in them. Ireland takes the trope to its logical extreme, by being literally one big theme park.
  • Taken literally in The Sandman. In one of the last issues, Hob Gadling visits a renaissance fair. Given that Hob is 500 years old, he is offended and depressed by the inaccurate portrayal of medieval life. And, incidentally, that's not even going into the issue of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance being two (mostly) distinct time periods.
  • One The Authority story written by Garth Ennis has a member of the SAS read a book a former teammate just published about his exploits, so filled with Hollywood-esque BS and Theme Park Versions of events he can't stop laughing: "What'd he do, pass seating contest when he was twelve?" When he meets the guy at his book signing, he laughs along with them, pointing at the adoring fans behind and commenting that "all they want is fucking Rambo".

    Films 
  • Propaganda films, in general, are designed precisely not to educate but to stir up opinions. One famous example is Frank Capra's Why We Fight series of U.S. "Informational" films during World War II, which essentially depicts Adolf Hitler as a real-life Snidely Whiplash with trimmed ends while the Allied peoples were all Always Lawful Good — even Joseph Stalin (never mind Stalin's own atrocities before the war). Notably, Capra saved a lot of time by just translating Nazi propaganda films into English to make them look scary. Needless to say, the series drew fire for being less than accurate — one reviewer, a Polish-American, denounced the series as "a conglomeration of patriotic exhortation, crackpot geopolitical theorizing, and historical mischief making," that the series deliberately falsified the facts to justify the Allied cause. This reviewer was particularly incensed by the depiction in the series of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939, that the Poles were seen as woeful failures while the Soviets that later invaded were seen not as fellow invaders but as guiltless saviors who only invaded Poland to stop the Nazi advance.
  • Darkest Africa is The Theme Park Version of Africa, an entire continent reduced to a few stock sets.
  • In the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers movie, the pod people came out of pods, which eventually ended up being trucked all over the place to spread the invasion. When the movie was remade in 1978, the invaders first came as spores which grew into flowers. But pods are still being trucked all over the place, because that was in the original, even though carrying around the smaller and less suspicious-looking flowers would make far more sense from the aliens' standpoint.
  • It should be noted in the film Jurassic Park, a movie about an actual themed dinosaur park with actual dinosaurs, not all the dinosaurs are from the Jurassic period; in fact most of them are from the Cretaceous period. (Cretaceous Park doesn't sound very cool, though, and the whole Jurassic-vs-Cretaceous thing is actually noted in the book: the guy bankrolling the operation says that they couldn't very well have a dinosaur theme park without a T. rex, Jurassic or not Jurassic.)
    • Lampshaded repeatedly when characters admit that their park is an exercise in idealism and does not accurately represent the period (or even the dinosaurs, for that matter). The saner characters repeatedly criticize Hammond for failing to conduct proper research, and these failures consistently lead to dangerous results.
    • One of the characters blatantly states that a lot of the dinos died in the Cretaceous period. The film averts this and seems pretty aware that Jurassic is just a cool name.
  • In Jurassic World, the head scientist explicitly calls out the fact that the creatures they're creating are not accurate to prehistoric dinosaurs, but are 'dinosaur-ish'. This is largely an in-universe explanation for the discrepancies with discoveries about dinosaur feathers and fluff that have been made since the first movie was filmed.
  • Film versions of The Three Musketeers are often theme park versions, most notably in reducing the complicated character of Cardinal Richelieu into a Big Bad. The four musketeers usually get reduced to archetypes as well.
  • One needs only be aware of who directed The Patriot to know that it's an action flick in period clothes and not a historical documentary. That said, pull up a seat:
    • The movie depicts the British committing Nazi war crimes and generally living on the other side of the Moral Event Horizon while wearing rather oddly colored uniforms. The dragoons HAD to wear red! You wouldn't be able to tell that they were British, otherwise!
    • It also includes plenty of supposedly historical clothing, with the result that several of the women are running around practically in the equivalent of their underwear. Oh, and with loose, flowing hair, despite the fact that infrequent bathing and dangerous (to long hair, anyway) working conditions made it necessary to bind one's hair up and wear a cap over it, just to keep it clean and away from the fire, the sickle, the ax, the animals, the gate, the hot kettle, and so on.
    • And good heavens, the public displays of affection — the movie is chock-full of anachronistic sexy smooches and embraces in front of disapproving parents, the army regiment, or the whole town. The lead and his romantic interest start kissing in public the first time they mention their feelings for one another. There are also a few instances of modern "sex humor" that utilize words or euphemisms which didn't yet exist or were uncommon at best.
    • The young woman, romantic interest of the lead's son, is much too "modern" in her outspoken behavior towards the townsfolk. She reproaches the men of the town during a wartime meeting IN CHURCH, and yet the shock and repercussions are at a minimum. Not to mention that her impassioned speech basically boils down to "Fight for your beliefs, guys!" with very modern turns of phrase. It would seem that none of these educated, thoughtful adults who have been living during a time of war had ever once paused to grapple with the philosophical questions of life, or the practical matter of whether or not they wanted to take up arms and join the militia.
  • The live action feature film version of the Japanese manga series Great Teacher Onizuka parodied this idea by showing the abandoned remains of a (fictional) failed theme park called "Canadaland." Flashbacks to the park's glory days were... embarrassing, to say the least.
  • Westworld contains what is literally the theme park version of The Wild West, The Middle Ages, and Ancient Grome, inhabited by realistic robots that are there primarily so park visitors can "kill" them or have sex with them. All three are Ye Goode Olde Days for the park visitors, but less pleasant for the androids...
  • Of course The Wild West as codified in The Western is itself a theme park distortion to begin with. Samuel Fuller lamented as such:
    "I love the West. I read a lot about the West, and I'm shocked, I'm ashamed that in pictures they have not made the true story of the winning of the West—comprising 90 percent foreigners, 100 percent laborers, nothing to do with guns. Streets, mountains, roads, bridges, streams, forests—that's the winning of the West to me. Hard! Tremendous, tremendous fight. But [instead] we have, as you know, cowboys and Indians and all that."
    • Film history's idea of The Western genre divides classical westerns from revisionist westerns and spaghetti westerns where the latter is seen as truer because Real Is Brown and its Darker and Edgier. This idea is itself a theme park reduction since many classical westerns such as those made by John Ford and Delmer Daves are complex, political works that deal with institutions, violence, racism and ethnic conflicts while revisionist westerns by Leone, Peckinpah and later films rarely deal with politics and Native American displacement. It was Ford who cast actual Navajo as extras and paid them on union scale in a time of discrimination while the revisionist Westerns focused as they were on being Genre-Killer Last Western, ended up drying up the parts for Native Americans on the American screen.
  • While many of the movies in the Disney Animated Canon are Pragmatic Adaptations, they are often seen as Theme Park Versions of their sources due to Public Medium Ignorance. It doesn't help that most people are generally familiar with the actual Theme Park Versions, from the literal theme parks, spin-offs/sequels, crossovers, or merchandise. Considering the popularity of those Theme Park Versions however, the company obviously has no intention of correcting this mindset towards the original films, much to the vexation of fans.
  • Sex and the City 2 is set in a theme park version of Abu Dhabi, which was actually filmed in Morocco.
    • Almost any Arab country in a live-action movie is actually Morocco. It has a big enough desert to build sets in (far enough away from major cities), while being secular enough that nobody will come and arrest your actresses for not wearing burqas.
  • Quest for Camelot fits the trope description perfectly; pretty much everything that happens in the movie, happens because it happens in this sort of movie. The fact that it doesn't make sense for that particular thing to happen didn't stop the writers from putting it in anyway.
  • On Amazon, a rather extreme reviewer of Aladdin argued that the architecture and costumes were all wrong for the time period, attempting to pinpoint when they could take place, speculating that the story would be sometime after the 1630's, around the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, instead of accepting the film's blatant Anachronism Stew for what it was.
  • Disney's Beauty and the Beast falls prey to this trope in its sequel, Beauty and the Beast: The Enchanted Christmas. It takes place in the Enchanted Castle, has Belle, The Beast, and the Enchanted Objects. . . and has pretty much nothing else related to the original film.
  • Pirates of the Caribbean can be said to be this for pirates and piracy, if only because it was based off an amusement park ride. However the franchise has notably opened up a lot of the general public's Small Reference Pools concerning piracy (such as the East India Trading Company) even if it often takes artistic liberties with them.
  • The Care Bears: Adventure in Wonderland is this with Wonderland, compared to the actual place in Alice in Wonderland.
  • Pretty much every college-themed movie ever made depicts The Theme Park Version of college life. High School life, on the other hand, has actually managed to avert this since the early-'80s.
  • The Show Within a Show in Pleasantville, supposedly an archetypal 1950s sitcom, actually represents The Theme Park Version of '50s sitcoms. In all fairness, not only does Pleasantville contain strong elements of satire, but the entire disbelief of the outside world in the Show Within a Show is only introduced by interaction with characters from the "real" world. Considering that many sitcoms never refer to the world outside the town in which they are set, it's not really much of a stretch.

    Literature 

    Live-Action TV 
  • The American version of 10 Years Younger pretty much forgets what made the show different from other makeover type shows. The British version made a point of stressing that the treatments that people get on the show were simple and relatively cheap, that ordinary people could normally afford. The cosmetic surgery was kept to a minimum with more focus on age flattering clothes, hairstyles and (for the women) makeup. The American version however has the guests go through extensive plastic surgery and play up the emotional affect of the age polls at the start to make it pretty much the same as Extreme Makeover.
  • The college-themed show Undeclared attempted to avert being this. Unfortunately, heavy amounts of Executive Meddling prevented Judd Apatow from reaching this goal.
  • Pretty much any Kid Com featuring high school students will depict The Theme Park Version of high school life.
  • Game of Thrones, acclaimed as it is on its own, has been accused of being this towards its source material A Song of Ice and Fire. Arguably a legitimate criticism as some trope-defying situations from the book series become victim of a far less complex interpretation in the series. For example, the books followed Catelyn Stark instead of Robb Stark (focusing on the mother of the traditional hero instead of the hero himself), but the series disregarded this and focused on Robb instead, relegating Catelyn to the sidelines.

    Music 
  • Steely Dan's song "Aja" is a parody of this approach to Asian culture.
    • "Deacon Blues", from the same album, is a parody of this approach to jazz music and culture.
  • The entire “Exotica” genre, popularized in the 1950s by Les Baxter, is basically the Theme Park Version of a stew of various ethnic musics (largely but not limited to Polynesian and African music).
  • During the '80s, Hair Metal became The Theme Park Version of Heavy Metal music in general (For The United States at least). The fans reacted, and formed what is now known as "Extreme Metal".
    • During the '90s, it was Nu Metal.
    • These days, metalcore has become The Theme Park Version of Heavy Metal.
  • Arena Rock is the theme park version of Progressive Rock, keeping the bombast but losing the weirdness, favoring slick, radio-friendly melodies instead of weird time signatures.
  • Post-Grunge is the theme park version of Grunge.
  • Pop punk is the theme park version of Punk Rock and hardcore punk.
  • After the debut of MTV, New Wave Music devolved into the theme park version of itself, with the familar pretty-boys with spiky hair, contrasted with the more adventurous early years.
  • The revived '90s version of The Misfits is generally seen as this to the original band. The new version sings almost exclusively about horror films, leaving behind the violence, rape and other generally disturbing themes that were also part of the Glenn Danzig era.

    Myths and Legends 
  • In Middle Eastern legend, genies are powerful and independent spirit beings; stories of genies serving humans are rare, and gain part of their sense of wonder from the implication that at some point there was a human magician powerful enough to force a genie into servitude. Servant genie stories — "Aladdin" in particular — have circulated in the West without the relevant context, leading to a perception that serving humans is a usual thing for genies; in at least one well-known film version of the Aladdin story, the plot resolution explicitly relies on the idea that all genies are by definition required to live in lamps and grant wishes unless their human masters wish them free.

    Pinball 

    Theatre 
  • Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton has been criticized in more than a few quarters for trafficking in "Founders' Chic", repackaging familiar stereotypes about the founders (George Washington the Humble Heronote , Thomas Jefferson the Hypocritenote , Aaron Burr, an usurping and ambitious man without loyaltynote ) that was criticized by historians Nancy Isenberg, Sean Willentz among others. Most notably, the show cultivates sympathy for its protagonist, Alexander Hamilton, by arguing that he was an abolitionist based on highly selective interpretation of loose facts, and prominently ignoring parts of history that belie that claim.
    Lyra Monteiro: This is a way that writers of popular history (and some academic historians) represent the founders as relatable, cool guys. Founders Chic tends to really downplay the involvement of the Founding Fathers in slavery, and this play does that 100 percent...So the 12th line of the play where it’s mentioned, “he struggled and kept his guard up” is the line right after talking about slaves being slaughtered and carted away. But we have no idea what Alexander Hamilton’s attitude toward slavery was when he was a boy growing up in the Caribbean. He worked on a slave ship. I mean, chances are probably pretty high that he was in favor of it; that was his livelihood. So few white people were opposed to slavery, especially white people in the Caribbean. It’s kind of bonkers to suggest that he was somehow suffering and feeling like slavery was an injustice at that time.
  • Buffalo Bill's Wild West shows were highly succesful at the end of the 19th century and the start of the 20th. They claimed to be historically accurate representations of the era and spared no costs to give the audience what they wanted with Native Americans, cowboys, stagecoaches, dramatized gun fights and horse riding. In reality all of it was a romanticized version that nevertheless caught on in the general consciousness, especially in Europe where the cowboys and Indians era has always remained popular. (He did have actual Native American actors and dancers.note )

    Videogames 
  • Assassin's Creed while praised for being (at least in earlier games) revisionist and subversive of tropes and Hollywood History still more or less presents simplified versions of actual historical periods, nations and cultures.
    • Assassin's Creed I and the other games more or less dials down the role of religion in the actual medieval era, insisting that such religious sects as The Hashshashin and The Knights Templar were Hiding Behind Religion and really secular humanists. While this compromise makes commercial sense and fits with the overall meta-narrative, it ends up giving a distorted view of the period and history.
    • The later games rarely tackle the importance of class and social background. The blending mechanic allows a Native American like Connor to hide in a group of Colonial Bostonians, a cockney thug like Jacob Frye to talk on even terms with the British Prime Minister and for the Florentine exile and outsider Ezio Auditore to easily interact with a range of class groups in a time where costume, rank, title and appearance were crucial social signifiers.
    • The games also codified Le Parkour in games as a climbing and traversal mechanic which simplifies both the human body and the surfaces and architecture of various cities to facilitate said gameplay. Other mechanics such as the naval gameplay of Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is more or less a simplified and condensed simulation of naval combat with ships easily navigated the wind and the waves.
  • The Civilization games are The Theme Park Version of... Civilization. No one disagrees it's an Acceptable Break from Reality, though.
    • And Civilization Revolution is itself the simplified Theme Park Version of the Civilization games, intended for kids as in introduction to the series.
  • In Fatal Fury 2 and its expansion Special, Andy Bogard's stge is set in Italy for some reason (he is an American McNinja, after all). The fight takes place on a boat that seems to be running through the channels of Venice, passing by the Coliseum and the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
  • In-universe in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn. The Psynergy Training Grounds are literally a theme park based on the story of the first two games, apparently made by Isaac fans who a) don't get the significance of the Fire Clan, b) don't get the significance of the Doom Dragon, and c) don't get that Felix was a good guy all along. Among other things.
  • The Grand Theft Auto games codified the Wide Open Sandbox genre and established most of its conventions, forming more or less theme park versions of American cities, theme park versions of American crime movies and TV shows, and theme park versions of popular culture. All its cities (Liberty City, Los Santos, Vice City) are Fantasy Counterpart Culture of New York, Los Angeles and Miami respectively but much, much smaller than the real thing, far easier to navigate but with just enough of the general feel and look of the real-world counterparts to give players a facsimile of the real thing.
    • The general gameplay more or less only works with a satirical distorted view that Rockstar submit its portrayal too, since the cities are portrayed to be as corrupt as a Banana Republic with suspects of multiple felonies buying their way out of murders with a slap on the wrist, an income system that doesn't punish you for losing your health (when American health care is incredibly expensive) and allowing a single individual to somehow learn how to drive multiple vehicles on land, sea and air which in real-life only few individuals ever accumulate the required knowledge to do so, leave alone the proficiency which allows for vehicle stunts as the games invites you to do.
    • The games are based on many popular American crime movies and tropes but often the distorted the popular-culture vision rather than the Unbuilt Trope of the original. Brian de Palma's Scarface starring Al Pacino is an anti-drug story and a tragedy, the Spiritual Adaptation Grand Theft Auto: Vice City is a sociopath's gleeful and successful Roaring Rampage of Revenge with none of the qualms and drawbacks of dealing drugs addressed once in the game.
    • The later games have a mechanic by which gamers can buy and invest in property and businesses which unlock missions that involve improving and building said works. Actual propety acquisition and businesses is a complex process that involves mortgage, electricity and maintenance which is usually handwaved with a one-time cash payment with no additional expenses incurred on the part of the owner.
    • Red Dead Redemption is likewise a theme park version of The Wild West and The Western, greatly misrepresenting and distorting both to facilitate gameplay. The actual West was not as violent as the game makes it out to be, and while it was praised for deconstructing western tropes, said deconstruction has been old hat since Stagecoach (which deconstructed earlier forgotten westerns) and The Searchers. Likewise the game pays no attention to environment, heat and other factors that real settlers had to face and while its mechanic does avert Automaton Horses to some extent it is still a simplified take on actual cowboy activities.
  • Metal Wolf Chaos appears to be set in America as imagined by Japanese games developers who have only ever seen it in action movies.
  • MMORPGs that are very linear and/or lack many of the player-driven gameplay elements are referred to as 'themeparks' since they lack the freedom of the Quick Sand Box. There is typically on emphasis on killing non-player characters compared to non-combat related activities, such as dancing, crafter-based economies, decorating, or socializing. However, even games considered 'sandboxes' tend to feature themepark elements, such as missions/quests and dropped-based loot.
    • World of Warcraft is a much smaller version of Azeroth and Outland than is generally depicted in the lore and in the previous games. While generally all the important details are there and in (mostly) the right places, all the continents are scaled down so as to not affect gameplay — creating the Theme Park Version of Warcraft. Funnily enough, it causes Sequel Displacement for the rest of the series.
      • There are other things wrong. Places are missing, as is one of Azeroth's moons (despite models of it appearing in Northrend Dungeons), Teldrassil looks like a humongous stump with a forest growing from its remains rather then the thriving tree it is in lore... The list goes on.
      • As expansions have come out, some missing places have been restored. The second (blue) moon has been restored, and it is now possible to visit some places that were missing originally. Some still remain unaccounted for, however.
      • Espen Aarseth actually points out that the game's Azeroth is similar to Florida's Disney World in size (before expansions) and layout in addition to purpose. "Both contain different thematic zones connected by paths, roads, and rail-based transportation, which cater to differing tastes, age groups, or levels."
  • Need for Speed II has tracks taking place in exotic locales such as The Outback (depicted as a rocky desert cutting through Sydney), The Himalayas (snowy mountains and a small village), and Northern Europe (which contains the Autobahn, a Germanic village, and castles within the same driving distance.
  • Spore does likewise for the cycle of life. And civilization... and, umm, Dune.
  • Bullfrog's Theme Park games are the theme park version of... running a theme park.
  • Nintendo Land is a literal example. The minigames that comprise it are based on various Nintendo games and simplified, with the premise that they're attractions at a Nintendo-themed amusement park. Rule of Fun is very much at play.
  • Most characters in Punch-Out!! are over-the-top national stereotypes (even the Japanese ones,) with the Wii version showing them coming from The Theme Park Version of their respective countries.
  • Ace Attorney pares down lawyering to the bare essentials: evidence, witness testimony, cross examination, and yelling really loudly when you spot an inconsistency. No one's complaining.
  • Like Nintendo Land, the Super Smash Bros. series is centered around the long history of Nintendo's video game library and its various characters.
  • Making Mario Kart clones is one of the the most common ways to make the compact versions out of serious motorsport events. EA made NASCAR Kart Racing and Codemasters made F1 Race Stars, for examples.
  • Team Fortress 2 - the (playable) cast features 8 men from the Theme Park Versions of America, France, Germany, Scotland and the Soviet Union. The ninth, the Pyro, is a Featureless Protagonist.
  • Ryse: Son of Rome does this to Ancient Rome, by taking wild liberties with History such as having Nero's Rome sacked by barbarians - the city also having hydraulic technology for lifts way ahead of its time -, as well as Romans fluent in Queens Latin, Exploding Barrels and shell shock, a gladiator duel between the Hero and some guy named Commodus, along with borrowing indiscriminately from Greek and Roman mythology, which end up playing as plot convenience

    Western Animation 
  • When The Simpsons go to Japan, they dine in a Theme Park Version restaurant of the United States called Americatown, complete with sarcastic waiters dressed as cowboys that state that they don't know anything as a result of America's educational system and also work in producing poor quality cars and inferior electronics.
    Homer: (genuinely amused) Oh, they got our number!
    • In almost any episode where the Simpsons leave Springfield, their destination is the Theme Park Version. Notable examples include France, Australia, and New York City, but the standout is Capital City, the state capital of The Simpsons' unnamed state that functions as a combined Theme Park Version of New York and Los Angeles, meant to invoke classic Big City tropes.
  • Parodied in South Park where the kids ask Jimbo, who fought in Vietnam, about some info for a school report. Jimbo literally gives a theme park version and the kids get an F.
  • In the "Old Days" festival in Harvey Beaks, apparently only four things happened in the 1970's: hippies, flower power, Afros, and disco.

    Real Life - History 
  • These days, many museums and tourist guides inevitably promote real nations, monuments and cultures in this way, often to the exclusion of sub-cultures and counter-cultures.
    • The French critic Roland Barthes noted in his book Mythologies that during the era of General Francisco Franco, Spanish tourist brochures never discussed Moorish Spain and the Arab influence on Spanish culture and language. He pointed out that in the age of travel, countries generally tend to promote a one-sided and one-dimensional vision of culture to choose as representative of the complex whole, where thanks to the Eiffel Tower Effect nations are reduced to a single slew of overexposed monuments (Eiffel Tower - Paris, Taj Mahal - India, Colosseum - Italy) over other more diverse parts of the nation and that tourists are more or less herded to visit and view only parts of a more complex whole.
    • There's also the fact that a lot of the major museums of the world (Louvre, British Museum and others) got their artifacts from colonialism and imperialist looting. This has the double effect. Citizens of former colonies are unable to truly appreciate much of their past since a lot of their cultural heritage is in some far off land too expensive for them to travel and see in person, while citizens in ex-imperial countries have an image of a more complex inter-related world without all the gray stuff removed.
    • A reverse trend is that in some parts of Asian countries to make theme park versions of Europe. There's Huis Ten Bosch: a Japanese theme park that recreates The Netherlands and Madurodam, the Dutch theme park version of The Netherlands (in miniature). There's also The Window of the World in Shenzhen, China contains scale models and reconstructions of the world's most famous landmarks and tourist attractions. This makes it the Theme Park Version of global tourism and the Chinese film The World by Jia Zhangke is set in that park dealing with the poignancy that many of its visitors will only have this facsimile of world history as their reference, since they are too poor to go and see the real thing.
  • Nothing quite embodies theme park more than the most commonly known and widely produced World Map. The Mercator Projection was originally devised for the purposes of navigation and as such it reduced the surface of the earth to a flat rectangle and compressed landmasses to reflect shape rather than size so as to make coast lines easier to identify and place in relation to each other. The problem is that the Age of Discovery, Exploration and Colonization instituted the map as a symbol reflective of a distorted Eurocentric worldview, and many on seeing the map, both from Western and non-Western countries, come away thinking that Greenland is truly the size of Africa when Africa is huge (It's big enough to hold China, USA and India and still have some space between) and Greenland while big is much smaller (slightly smaller than India). It makes Western Europe bigger than it really is, while making India into a tiny triangle when it is in fact bigger than England, France, Germany and Italy combined. New maps and projections have tried to correct it but the Mercator projection still remains thanks to inertia, Pop-Cultural Osmosis the "image of the world" for many people. Websites like the true size use the Mercator Map to better inform viewers on the gulf between the apparent size of the Mercator Map and the actual size of the particular landmass.
  • Some argue that nationalism as an ideology more or less reduces places, events, and persons to theme park-like simplistic reductions and a tendency to present an official version of national history.
    • For example, classes in US history can resemble advertisements for the US conservative movement. Events like The American Revolution and the "Founding Fathers" are often invoked in America discourse with very little attention paid to context and background and often reduced and caricatured in popular culture (as in The Patriot). Some elementary and high school history classes focus on the Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Carter, and Reagan administrationsnote  while almost little or no attention is paid to 19th Century America except for Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt, and the The American Civil War much to critic Gore Vidal's distaste (he wrote several novels to rectify this). Important events in American history like the War of 1812, the Trail of Tears, the Mexican-American War (which you would think would be taught with more attention, considering that at the end of it, the present day contiguous United States was formed) are glossed over, forgotten or simply ignored.
    • Even the study of "world history" is still governed by a eurocentric bias. Any highschool-back history book you read will passingly mention the Middle East, India, Africa, and Asia while focusing on Europe and its struggles. You don't read 1200–1800-era Chinese, Arabian, or African authors too often, nor do you discuss non-European empires from those eras. Also, North America didn't exist until 1492. Hence why it's the "New World", regardless of how old it actually is. Can you think of any major events in Native American history before Europeans came over that doesn't have to do with doomsday calendars? Or of major scientific inventions and philosophical innovations outside of Europe that don't have to do with algebra, limestone batteries, or gunpowder? Let's just say that if you respond "There are none," you've successfully proved this trope correct.
  • Wars are often taught in a very simplistic fashion. It would take the whole school year to get a non-Theme Park version of one war, especially complex events such as the Thirty Years' War, with proper attention paid to geopolitical tensions and other environmental and sociological changes and military technology and tactics. They are also fought and experienced by Loads and Loads of Characters and feature many Hero of Another Story. In movies, popular consciousness, and even in history classes, they usually devolve into a theme park version of a fight between the forces of Good, with some individual, great leaders, generals and soldiers elevated into heroic roles out of proportion to the level of agency they actually possessed during the conflict. Military history is a separate discipline in and of itself and thanks to the Pop-Cultural Osmosis paid to tropes like Decisive Battle history tends to highlight the exciting parts over the boring parts and the importance or lack thereof of battles and war are not given due accord.
    • In English history, Agincourt and Crecy are taught when mentioning The Hundred Years War while ignoring that the English ultimately lost that war. The former two were striking victories important for England at the time and propagandized by English monarchs and dramatists such as William Shakespeare and comics artists such as Warren Ellis to emphasize ideas of nationalism and class consciousness, greatly distorting and exaggerating the events out of its actual historical context.
    • Either one of the World Wars could easily eat up all the time allotted to history secondary education. Each nation participating in said conflict tend to focus or emphasize their part in the conflict over a broadly global perspective, mostly for nationalistic reasons. American students as well as international students on account of Eagleland Osmosis and America Wins the War, think that both these conflicts were singularly won by America to the detriment of the involvement of other, non-English speaking, nations. Thanks to the Cold War, this has led to the virtual removal from public consciousness of the contribution of the Soviet Union, when they mounted the largest offensive, fought harder, endured greater casualties and the worst war crimes, than the other sides combined and were the ones who liberated the major extermination camps. It was only since the 80s and 90s, that The Holocaust was mentioned or depicted widely. The depictions of the war are still largely shaped by the Western Front, with its images of the Americans and British liberating their future NATO allies to the detriment of the East and the Pacific. In the case of the Pacific, the experiences of the Chinese, the Burmese, the Indians during the War get little say compared to the naval war of the US on the Pacific.
    • Allied propaganda from World War II on all three sides loved to demonize Adolf Hitler and Imperial Japan. The former was made into Laughably Evil while the latter were shown with crude racist stereotypes. Propaganda is never meant to educate, but to influence and to stir up emotions, still it has to be mentioned that the British were a colonial empire during the war, the French Resistance used their colonies as a base and, technically, no more than a liberal military junta rather than legitimate government (most of which had become Les Collaborateurs). American society and its armed forces were segregated, and as for the Soviets, well they were led by "Uncle Joe" Stalin (so-called during the war), who had a few years back conducted mass purges and incompetent collectivization schemes that led to the deaths of three million and who also invaded Poland and Finland alongside Hitler as part of that "Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact" that got swept under the rug. Still, Hitler was a great deal worse than all of them.
  • In American film and literature, many Native Americans suffer from this trope. Pick any nation you like, and if you bother to do the research, you will find a complex society with all the trimmings: a working economy, clearly defined values and morals, a deep religion, a highly developed language, and a well-developed justice system. Yet some authors portray Native Americans as backward, childlike people who all talk like Tontonote , and others portray them all as nature-bonded Noble Savage Magical Native American stereotypes in Braids, Beads and Buckskins who are mercilessly slaughtered by the brutish white man. It's difficult at times to ascertain which is more offensive.

     Real Life - Other 
  • Actual theme parks are themselves theme park distortions of some real place or experience:
    • Disney Theme Parks: In 2004, Walt Disney World opened "Disney's Saratoga Springs", a resort inspired by another tourist hot spot, Saratoga Springs, NY (best known for mineral springs, horse racing, proximity to the Adirondack Mountains, and being the tourist destination for rich Victorians from New York City). The resemblance is...extremely superficial. To demonstrate, compare "High Rock Spring", the Disney version (waterfalls and a pool)...and the real one (a rock with a spigot covered by a building).note  Similar to the aforementioned Window of the World, there is Epcot's World Showcase, which features eleven pavilions, each representing the culture of one different country. And then there's Disney's California-themed park...in California. It was not well received.
    • A Shaped Like Itself version: Six Flags St. Louis has an area called "1904 World's Fair" (the real thing was in St. Louis, after all), made up like an old-time carnival and no doubt lacking the safety or health issues that the original may have had.
    • Bobbejaanland is a Belgian theme park, founded by a Belgian country western singer, which proudly presents his idea of the American Wild West (with a few Viking- and Aztec-themed rides thrown in). Visiting it as an actual American is a marvelously surreal experience. From the same country comes to you the thing known as Mini Europa. Anything of it could easily be the image of the wiki.
  • Since The '80s, when Las Vegas decided to target families rather than seasoned gambler, several of its megaresort hotels offer theme park versions of other popular places and/or eras. Where else can you visit New York City (New York-New York), Paris, ancient Egypt (Luxor), ancient Rome (Caesars Palace), Monte Carlo, and Venice (The Venetian) in walking distance of each other?
  • Most Holidays become this.
    • In an interesting inversion, the word "Xmas" for Christmas is often wrongfully accused of being this trope. The assumption is that the X is used to remove any implications of Jesus from the holiday. In fact, it comes from the fact that X is the first letter in Jesus' title (Χριστός or Christos) in Greek. (Perhaps medieval monks started this — they had to write "Christ" so much in their copying work that they started writing X as shorthand.) This is also why Catholic churches have a big XP on things — it's "CHR", the first letters in "Christ". (And, if you really want to be pedantic, Christmas originated as a pagan holiday that was Hijacked by Jesus because most of the non-Christian world had some sort of winter festival and the Christians figured they may as well join the party.) The expression "Xian" for Christian was originally not a pejorative, but came from online religion discussion groups where like those medieval monks you had to type "Christian" so much that Xian became the shorthand.
    • Take Valentine's Day. It went from being a tribute to a Christian martyr, to being an occasion for romantic lovers to profess themselves to each other, to being a kitschy affair in which schoolkids in completely platonic relationships give each other goofy cards with Superman or SpongeBob SquarePants on them.
    • Then there's Saint Patrick's Day. Just about everyone's forgotten that it's a Catholic holiday, not just an Irish one. Same with Mardi Gras. Purely Catholic, but most of the people enthused with it nowadays are probably from other religions, if they even are religious at all. Some now refer to Mardi Gras as Fat Tuesday. (To be fair, that's just translating the French. Elsewhere, the holiday is very straightforwardly called "Carnival" — or "farewell to meat," named because Lent was formerly required to be meatless.)
  • Many large cities are frequently accused of attempting to become the theme park version of themselves. This is often associated with gentrification, which sociologists and historians lament often comes at the expense of more colourful and interesting communities.
    • A good example is Paris since the 1960s, where French Presidents tried to install new buildings. The Centre Georges Pompidou, an art gallery, was built on top of the famous covered market of Les Halles, a historical working class district. The construction of the Olympics for London in 2012, led to the destruction of Hackney, another historical working class area. In the case of New York City, a city that in its The Big Rotten Apple phase was lamented for its high crime and urban decay and celebrated for its art, culture and city life (because the high crime made rents cheap), gentrification has made the rents go up and has made the city a billionaires paradise. There's also a darker angle, since Spike Lee notes that property prices of areas increase when white residents move in formerly poor but respected ghettoes (often because they are attracted to the Melting Pot reputation a locale attracted over time) and what Spike Lee derisively labels the Christopher Columbus Syndrome which inevitably transforms a region into a shadow of what it once was for the benefit of new settlers.
    • A particularly strong example: New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The wealthier, touristy, photogenic parts of the city bounced back much faster than the poor parts of town. This effect was not totally intentional, but some accusations of sinister intent flew. The chief exhibit would be many people who openly pondered whether the storm wasn't a good excuse to tear down most (or all) public housing. The opposing argument being, of course, that these touristy, photogenic parts of the city were where a huge number of the people who lived in the city worked, and the faster they got back on their feet, the sooner money could start coming into the city again.
  • Almost everything taught in school textbooks especially below college level is a theme park version of that subject, geared towards accessibility and simple concepts with very little attention given to how practice of said works happens in the modern day:
    • Science and mathematics in particular suffer from this. Entry level science and maths is still classical in formulation, teaching children Euclidean geometry, and Newtonian physics, and basic evolutionary theory (except for some parts of America that is where even that is not taught) in the hope that those who are a little more curious will read deeper and sign on for the real thing in advanced courses and college graduate level, where more or less they have to unlearn their elementary science's broad assumptions. Stephen Hawking's famous book A Brief History of Time was written for a lay audience precisely to update them about how their basic ideas about science has changed drastically from Newton to Einstein, and even Hawking's book is a theme park (avoiding any scientific equations other than E=MC squared) reduction of more complex phenomenon.
    • Psychology is usually not taught at a school level and barely touched on in high school but unfortunately, it has to compete with Popular Psychology and misrepresentations on shows like Criminal Minds, Bones and other media works. The idea of psychology most people derive from such works is extremely simplified, misapplied, out of date, or outright wrong. Of course complicating the problem is that there are many contending theories and ideas about psychology and each group tends to insult and denounce the other, making it harder for people to grapple with the truth. The most common and pervasive idea is Freudian Psychology and even that is highly misunderstood and distorted.
  • Your standard wall calendar will do this to the months of the year, often taking a major holiday or something similar of each month and making a photo about it. Common examples in the US:
    • January: A baby in a top hat blowing a horn (symbolizing the "New Year")
    • February: Valentine's Day, red and pink and heart-shaped everything.
    • March: Either people flying kites in the wind or a leprechaun with a pot o' gold (for Saint Patrick's Day). Easter themes may show up if Easter is celebrated this month.
    • April: "April Showers," raincoats and boots and umbrellas, or Easter stuff if it comes this month.
    • May: "May Flowers", a lush garden scene,
    • July: Independence Day, stars and stripes, Uncle Sam and Fireworks.
    • September: Anything having to do with kids going back to school (pencils, apples, rulers, blackboards, etc.). Or falling autumn leaves.
    • October: Halloween, costumes (Hot Witch is a favorite), jack-o-lanterns, and ghosts.
    • November: Thanksgiving, turkeys, pilgrims and Indians.
    • December: Christmas, trees, ornaments, poinsettias and Santa Claus. Maybe some sparkly blue decor and Stars of David for Chanukah if you're lucky.
  • Sweden Hills
  • The First Australians (or Indigenous Australians) are not the same as Australian Aborigines. The indigenous population consists of two main groups. About 90% are Aborigines, which pretty much everyone knows about. The rest are Torres Strait Islanders, relatively unknown outside of Australia and often forgotten within the country. This division oversimplifies the diversity of languages (hundreds within the Aborigine population alone) and cultures in the indigenous community.
  • The Mesozoic Era gets hit with this trope hard. Many forms of fictional Dinosaur Media will feature the standard ugly, bloodthirsty carnivores (like Tyrannosaurus rex) and docile, good-natured herbivores (like Brontosaurus), horrifying Sea Monsters that make the shark from Jaws look like a guppy (marine reptiles like Plesiosaurus) and airborne terrors that descend upon helpless creatures on the ground (pterosaurs like Pteranodon). The landscape will almost always be depicted as alien and unfamiliar, with even the flora being impossible to recognize, and the whole thing would be completely covered in volcanoes and molten lakes, with everyday life being a constant fight for survival. Of course, nearly all of these are exaggerated and some, like the volcanoes, are almost totally fabricated. The flora of the Mesozoic wasn't all that different from the flora we have nownote  and the animals were, for all intents and purposes, still normal animals. A living T. rex would be no more vicious or terrifying than a modern lion or grizzly bear (aside from being 20-30 times more massive, three and a half times as tall, six times as long and capable of eating an average lion or grizzly in one bite), and on the flipside, a plant eating dinosaur would not necessarily be friendly (modern plant eaters certainly aren't). The sea reptiles and pterosaurs would likely be the same way.
  • In Flanders there is a teaching subject in primary school called World Orientation meant in theory to give a broader view of the world. In practice, it is this trope Up to Eleven, as it it is a string of facts taken entirely out of context and often condensed into 2 pages of information that people are supposed learn by heart.
  • Many large (and usually nerdy) fandoms can be reduced to this by people outside of them.


Alternative Title(s): Theme Park Version

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheThemeparkVersion