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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: November 2020

9 - Conclusion: Ways Forward for Theme Park and Fan Studies

Summary

Abstract

This chapter reiterates how theme parks offer a crucial site for the exploration of transmediality and the development of paratexts, offering an ongoing site for analysis of the intersections between fandom, media texts, and merchandise, as well as fans’ own affective and physical responses to visiting the parks. It highlights the ongoing commercial and economic value of themed spaces and the continuing expansion of such sites around the world. Arguing for a move away from Western-centric views of themed spaces and transmedia theory, the chapter concludes by proposing avenues for the future of studying theme park spaces, their fans, and the ongoing tensions that occur when fans of themed spaces and their intellectual properties come into proximity with one another.

Keywords: transnational theme parks, transnational transmedia, play, anti-fandom, fan labour

Introduction

Writing in 2000, Constance Balides argues that ‘The theme park often figures as a metaphor for the extensive reach of commerce and for simulation as a general mode of experience’ and that it has come to stand in for ‘the derivative nature of cultural forms’ (2000, p. 140). Now, twenty years later, such views persist in many quarters of contemporary society, as examples such as the Katy Perry video for ‘Oblivia’ and the College Humor video discussed in the Introduction demonstrate. Indeed, as I finished writing this conclusion, debate reared its head online about whether childless ‘millennials’ should be visiting Disney Parks at all. Inspired by a (apparently fake) Facebook post where a disgruntled Disney guest bemoaned ‘It pisses me off TO NO END!!!! When I see CHILDLESS COUPLES AT DISNEYWORLD. People without CHILDREN need to be BANNED!!!! […] I fucking hate childless women with a BURNING PASSION!!!!’, theme park fans online quickly moved to argue against the views being expressed and to defend their right to spend their time (and money) wherever they chose. The story was quickly picked up by The New York Post (Olekinski 2019) and The Guardian in the UK (Mahdawi 2019) with both columnists equally damning those who chose to visit the Parks as ‘weird’ (Oleksinski 2019) or having ‘something very wrong with [them]’ (Mahdawi 2019). Clearly, the cultural derision towards adult theme park guests continues.

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