18 FEBRUARY 1989, Page 44


Dream themes

s aspistos In Competition No. 1561 you were in- vited to describe, from the point of view of an ingenuous visitor, two bizarre new 'theme parks' in this country in the year 2M10.

One competitor informed me wearily that not 40 miles from him an old army camp had already been `themed' as a PoW park, complete with brutal guards and execrable food, where people pay to spend weekends. I was entertained by Jeanne Fielder's Museum of Democracy — 'one exhibit is a polling booth, a very ramshack- le affair, dating from the bad old days when being governed involved one in the hassle of choice'. Nicholas Alexander en- visaged a future Wallace Arnold ('the man who some have almost considered should have been the leader of the Conservative Party') shrine — 'the three-bedroom semi, with resplendent blue plaque, is a fitting centrepiece'. And Brian Ruth described a Trade Union Theme Park, where 'a favourite for many visitors is the National-

ised Industry Corner, in which former employees of the old state industries re- enact Spanish customs'.

The prizewinners printed below get £15 each, and the bonus bottle of Cockburn's Late Bottled Vintage Port 1982, presented by Cockburn Smithes & Co. Ltd, is won by Martyn Partridge.

Arriving at the Evelyn Waugh Theme Park near Taunton we were met by a rubicund gent in a check suit who told us to 'bugger off! This was all part of the fun, and for a 'fee' of 50 'guineas' we passed quickly into a wonderworld of Eng- land's greatest writer. While the children were being expertly embalmed ('California-style') grown-ups were free to roam among realistic tableaux of twentieth-century life, re-living the ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold on their Walkmen,

getting drunk with a Randolph ChUrchill look- alike, vomiting through a facsimile of Charles Ryder's college window. Souvenir cleft sticks, thunder-boxes and inflatable vile bodies abound. The Hooperama sports an empty coffin over which one may preach a panegyric and look vainly for the remains of the English upper class. In Porlock, just up the Somerset Thruway, the Samuel Taylor Coleridge Psychedelic Experi- ence was an altogether less dignified affair.. •

(Martyn Partridge)

It was fabulous! The manger and stable are authentic, although the Star is a laser projection- You go through a seelport into the carpenter's shop. Wonderful! The air even smells of resin- Unfortunately, owing to a 'bug in the layout', you have to go through Versailles (which is very pretty) to get to Calvary. But when you get there it's well worth it: three lovely crosses on a small hillock — and with the de luxe ticket you gel struck in the face by a centurion. On the train back to Paddington you get an excellent three- course Last Supper.

The Dunkirk Experience I didn't like --- probably because I was seasick. However, the simulation was excellent. You really believe you are at sea and being shot at — and when you Scramble ashore to a nice hot cuppa from a WVS lady, you can hardly credit that you're in Milton Keynes Museum.

(Gerard Benson)

Hopping Mad World was the first theme park We visited. It was so simple, all you had to do was leave one shoe behind at the gate and promise to hop everywhere. It was a scream. You've no idea how funny it is, everybody ,1°PPing up and down the street, tears of 'aughter streaming down their faceS, in and out of pubs and shops and the loos. Oh dear! First aid was free. The second park was Health World: you sit in groups and are invited to discuss all your health problems, mental and physical. Trained group leaders in smart white coats award tokens according to how frank, brave and fearless your revelations are. It's a real purge. You can also watch operations as they take place; brain transplants, limb replacements, the lot. It was really super.

(Jeremy Carlisle) In the Tonbridge Health Theme Park, crowds gather agog to see exhibitions of ancient pre- scriptions. For only E7,541, you purchase the 260 'new' pennies with which our parents purchased remedies. Experts pour 'diazepam' tablets into tiny brown bottles as special souve- nirs. Children ride free on the special Sick Train, beautifully built as a hypodermic, or slide gaily down Stethoscope Falls to where a pulsating heartbeat tosses the kiddies high in the air. But by far the most exciting theme park I've visited is the Wombwell Birth Park. The generous admission charge of E7,539 per person allows you free rides in the uterus simulator, generous drinks from the special gumby-umby-like-all cord fountains, and a spectacular journey through their famous Contracting Walls complete with realistic sticky liquid, and Womb- well `midwives' ready to tap your bottom and pass you to MOTHER — the Milky Outlet Thermally Heated Extra Refreshment unit. Fantastic!

(Lene W. Bellgirl)

17 May. Uncle Toby came and took us out to Punishment Park. It's in a real old jail called Wormwood Scrubs! There's loads of different cells, including one called the Black Hole of Calcutta. Uncle. Toby says they brought the hole from India, I think it's a joke. Anyway, they closed 150 of us up in this tiny cellar for ten

minutes. Everybody was panicking and throwing up except me, it was BRILLIANT.

24 May. Uncle Toby again. This time we went to Greenbelt Park, the last remnant of what it used to be like all round London. Once you're inside there's nothing but grass and stuff, it's dead spooky. Right in the middle you pay extra to go into the Zone of Silence where you leave your stereo at the gate and go into some trees and hear what silence used to be like. It must have been really awful. (Noel Petty)