The Hunger Games Might Be a Theme Park, but These YA Novels Would Make Better Ones
Earlier this month, the Hollywood Reporter spilled that a theme parked based on Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games trilogy could be on the horizon. According to the story, Jon Feltheimer, the CEO of Lionsgate Entertainment, which owns the Hunger Games movie franchise, said he has been approached in multiple territories by investors interested in creating a theme park based on the hugely successful YA trilogy and movie series. The Catching Fire movie, the second of the series, will be released on November 22.
It's no surprise that investors are looking to capitalize on the Hunger Games' success with their own merchandising opportunities. And the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios — based on J.K. Rowling's YA fantasy series — has worked as a precedent. However, a Hunger Games amusement park has many raising eyebrows. After all, the YA series is based on an oppressive government that forces children to kill other children for their entertainment pleasure — not exactly the stuff family vacations are made of.
This summer a Florida-based kids' camp based on The Hunger Games was admonished in the media for promoting violence among children. A report in the Tampa Bay Times quotes children who attended the camp discussing how they intended to kill their peers and how they wanted to die.
With a rocky past for Hunger Games adaptations, it seems unclear how an amusement park based on the series would work, and Feltheimer has yet to speak out on any concrete plans.
On the other hand, YA novels and series are ripe for translation into a theme park world. These seven books could create a world more suited to vacationing than the Hunger Games.
The Chronicles of Narnia
It seems improbable that there is not yet a park dedicated to exploring the classic YA series by C.S. Lewis. Because the books span the entire history of the mythical land of Narnia, there is tons of imagery and plot points from which to choose — designers and builders even have the original illustrations from Pauline Baynes to draw from. With large park entrance gates mimicking the wardrobe doors from The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, guests could then be guided by the lion Aslan through the park as its rides and adventures unfold. Though literary critics find clear Christian undertones and other adult themes in C.S. Lewis' works, the novels could still be one of the most family-friendly amusement parks this side of Disney World.
Another literary classic for children, and the prequel to J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings series, The Hobbit seems perfect for building a theme park world. It has the adventure and wonder that family vacations should inspire, and it could parlay into an entire Middle Earth park universe. Like Harry Potter, The Hobbit has a distinct sense of place that designers could build off from, and who wouldn't want to ride a roller coaster race escape from the evil dragon Smaug?
Moving from childish wonderlands, Veronica Roth's Divergent paints a darker, grittier world for a theme park. The YA novel creates a natural division of areas for the park, each based on one of the factions of the book's characters: Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, and the darkest and most adventurous, Dauntless. In the center of the park could be the symbol for the Divergent group. Naturally, the zipline the main character Tris and other Dauntless members take from the rooftops through the sky would be turned into a ride, as would the Dauntless train jump. Take the littler kiddos over to the Amity area for group, friendly games.
'The Neverending Story'
Though many people first think of the 1984 movie, The Neverending Story was first a 1979 German book by Michael Ende. Both the book and the movie are set in a magical, parallel world — Fantastica in the book, Fantasia in the movie — that is perfect to build a wild theme park around. And because the protagonist is a little boy from our present world who is reading this story, the park could also have attractions about books and places they take us. The ride with the longest lines? Falkor the Luckdragon: The Roller Coaster.
Percy Jackson and the Olympians
Rick Riordan's five-book YA series tells the story of Percy Jackson, a 12-year-old boy who discovers he is a demigod, the son of Poseidon. Characters include many family members of Greek gods, such as Athena, Zeus, Hermes, and Hades, and the gods themselves, which could set a theme for an interesting amusement park — think, Poseidon's Water Rapids ride. This mythology-focused world would be like Las Vegas' Caesar's Palace for the younger set. And with Riordan's massive success with this series, selling 20 million books in over 35 countries, an amusement park could have global appeal.
'Charlie and the Chocolate Factory'
Taste the everlasting gobstoppers, boat through the chocolate lazy river, ride the great glass elevator — Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is jam packed with inspiration for a theme park, and Hershey Park sets a precedent that shows that candy-based amusement parks can work. The two movies, the Gene Wilder-starring 1971 Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory and Tim Burton's 2005 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, already had a chance to take a crack at drawing set inspiration from Dahl's original work, and it would be interesting to see what a designer could do on a large-scale theme park.
The Lunar Chronicles
Walt Disney World may have the corner on adapted fairy tale amusement parks, but that doesn't mean Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles can't get in on the action. Her soon-to-be four-book series (Cress and Winter, based on Rapunzel and Snow White, respectively, are due up next) could take a more space-age angle on the fairy tale theme park. Meyer's characters are futuristic versions of Cinderella, Red Riding Hood, and other classic heroines, but they live among cyborgs and androids, which would allow the theme park to be futuristic-themed and decorated. Ride hovercars and spaceships and help Cinder break out of prison.