5 Insane Theme Parks You Won't Believe Were Almost Built
Here at Cracked, we've examined plenty of screwball amusement parks that hucksters with dollar signs for eyes had the gumption to actually build. But sometimes these ideas for weirdo playlands never make it past concept art stage. Here are five theme parks you'll never ever attend, unless you know the secret of turning a dump truck full of venture capital into a time machine. And it's too bad, because we really wouldn't have minded visiting ...
The Life-Size USS Enterprise of Las Vegas
In 1992, Las Vegas was giddy with a building boom. The old Mafia-run casinos had been run out of town years before, and corporations muscled in. When a prime piece of property opened up at the end of the Strip, a consortium known as the Goddard Group decided to honor Las Vegas' martini-and-Rat Pack past and plop down the entire goddamn USS Enterprise there.
Kirk's gambling problem sorta snowballed in the later years.
Yes, this 23-story, 600-foot-long, $150 million Star Trek resort would've resembled the Enterprise if it had traveled back in time, crashed on the Strip, and been outfitted as a casino/theme park so that Captain Kirk always had a venue to perform his spoken-word poetry.
Maybe they'd cross-promote with the Luxor and we could hear him sing "Walk Like an Egyptian."
And this wasn't the proposal of a single starry-eyed Trekkie, intoxicated by the prospect of the Blue Man Group painted "Orion slave girl green," surly Klingons manning the craps tables, and call girls whose sole gimmick would be imitating Ensign Chekhov's ridiculous Soviet accent. The idea gained traction over a period of five months with the support of the then-mayor of Las Vegas, developers, studio executives, and presumably die-hard fans who began a letter-writing campaign demanding Jacuzzis shaped like Leonard Nimoy's head.
"Live long ... and put it all on red."
In fact, this project was so close to approval that it only came to a halt when the head of Paramount Studios unilaterally canned it. He explained his veto by saying, "I don't want to be the guy that approved and then it's a flop and sitting out there in Vegas forever."
We're sure some Klingon-speaking Google billionaire would have paid well to blow that up.
Las Vegas eventually did get its own Trek attraction with the opening of the much more modest Star Trek: The Experience in 1998. This attraction eventually closed in 2008, but for one glorious decade, Trek fans could make the pilgrimage to Sin City to genuflect before such cherished artifacts as Whoopi Goldberg's space hat.
And then drink with all the great sorta-racist caricatures of the distant future.
Six Flags Dubailand
The city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates has exploded with growth in recent years, constructing the world's tallest building, an indoor ski resort in the desert, and a (doomed) luxury archipelago shaped like the continents of the world.
And given that Dubai is waging an ongoing war against the forces of subtlety, it's unsurprising that the city almost had a psychedelic Six Flags theme park, complete with a spinning spire of hallucination.
"Drugs provided by your brain."
Instead of your run-of-the-mill amusement park layout, with specific zones dedicated to such white-knuckle thrills as log flumes, roller coasters, and strangers in terrifying Berenstain Bears costumes, Six Flags Dubailand was to be laid out according to vague human emotions and experiences.
Wait, vague? "Bowel-loosening horror" is pretty specific.
That's right: Visitors would psychologically pinball around the park, bouncing between areas dubbed "Play," "Celebrate," and "Wonder," all the while wondering if some unseen malefactor had dosed their morning coffee with Vitamin Crazy.
"Shit. That creamer went bad."
But Six Flags Dubailand's fantastical attractions remain solely in the realm of concept art. The Great Recession hit both Six Flags and Dubai hard, permanently scuttling plans for the park in 2010 and leaving Dubai's ne'er-do-well teenagers one less paradise where they could play hooky from school and chew khat until the walls start melting.
Honestly, this looks like more of an opium pipe situation.
In the late 1980s, Disney decided it didn't own enough of California, so the House of the Mouse planned to buy up a bunch of coastal land in Long Beach. Disney originally angled to use this land as a dock for its cruise ships, but instead decided to build DisneySea, a futuristic, oceanic theme park right out of a science fiction novel about a futuristic, oceanic theme park overrun by screaming half-mallard humanoids who refuse to wear pants.
Among DisneySea's noteworthy attractions were several giant glass bubbles called Oceana representing every water biome on Earth, an area devoted to Captain Nemo and his Nautilus submarine from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, an attraction based on Homer's Odyssey, and tanks where guests could swim in shark cages (obviously, nobody behind this project learned a damn thing from the cinematic classic that was Jaws 3).
We can't imagine any world where this thing's story doesn't end like the first BioShock.
But negotiations with Long Beach were scrapped when land opened up next to Disneyland, and Disney opted to build the cheaper Disney California Adventure instead. Elements of this grandiose plan were recycled for the far less ambitious Tokyo DisneySea park in 2001. That's right, readers -- DisneySea got watered down. (We'll let ourselves out now. Of the Internet.)
Or into a shark tank. That might be fair, too.
Miami's City of Tomorrow
Throughout, oh, most of the 20th century, legions of Miami developers have pitched a science, trade, and culture park known as Interama, which is short for "Inter-American Cultural and Trade Center." Interama was designed to offer visitors all the space-age sights and amenities of a World's Fair, with the sexy thrills of some beach blanket bingo a stone's throw away.
"It's Miami. We paid the art guy in coke."
This futuristic metropolis came complete with elevated aerial capsules and a thousand-foot tower accessible only by underwater conveyor-belt tubes. The only thing this spectacle was missing was a talking dog incomprehensibly barking, "RELCOME ROO RINTERAMA."
WARNING: Shark-Related Tunnel Collapse May Occur
The closest Interama came to reality was in the '60s. The park was supposed to open in 1968, but the project stalled out over the years. It flat-lined so hard that Florida International University bought up a chunk of the land Interama was supposed to sit on. Another portion of the Interama acreage was turned into a dumping ground for toxic and medical waste.
Well, look on the bright side -- when you roll around in a random pile of hazardous chemicals and the fluids of strangers, you'll probably see visions of the future, and there's no ticket price! (And if someone is charging you admission, then you're doing it wrong.)
The $500 Million Argo Theme Park
Remember Argo, the movie that won the Oscar for Best Picture of 2012? Well, the film -- which was about a real CIA mission to rescue U.S. embassy workers trapped in Iran in 1980 -- left out one completely insane detail. The fake science fiction movie that the CIA used as a cover to sneak into Tehran was also a proposal for a tripped-out theme park.
In the late 1970s, Hollywood writer Barry Ira Geller penned a screenplay adaptation of Roger Zelazny's acclaimed 1967 science fiction novel, Lord of Light. For those of you who have never read Lord of Light, it is -- in a nutshell -- about human astronauts in the far future who use mad technology to transform into Hindu and Buddhist deities. And sweet balls, this was to be the focus of a half-billion-dollar theme park.
We were so looking forward to the Spinning Robo-Vishnus.
This was $500,000,000 in 1979 money, mind you. Emboldened by the runaway success of Star Wars, Geller dreamed big for his adaptation of Lord of Light. Along with the movie, he imagined building an entire amusement park in Aurora, Colorado, using concept art by legendary comic book artist Jack Kirby, who basically invented the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and the Avengers.
This blissfully deranged park, which was dubbed "Science Fiction Land," was to sport Maglev trains, a 38-story Ferris wheel, and techno-Hindu architecture that would've made Six Flags Dubailand look boring. All of it was to be encased in a Buckminster Fuller dome half a mile high:
Yep, that last one's a penis.
Despite holding a flashy kickoff conference in Denver -- complete with "futuristic clowns" in "green fright wigs" -- brute economic forces and corrupt and bankrupt project funders scuttled Science Fiction Land before reality could dash in and scream, with tears streaming down its face, "What the FUCK are you guys thinking?"
In the end, Geller's script and Kirby's concept art were reused (or as Geller notes, stolen) by the CIA, as a front to rescue the embassy staff, and by Ben Affleck, as a means to make everyone forget his Hollywood career between Good Will Hunting and The Town.
Evan V. Symon is a moderator in the Cracked Workshop. He can be found on Facebook, and be sure to bookshelf and vote for his new book, The End of the Line.
For more amazingness we almost got, check out 5 Superhero Movies You Won't Believe Almost Got Made and 3 Insane Spider-Man Movies You Won't Believe Almost Got Made.
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