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Friday, April 1, 2016

Stay in the Boxcar Children's boxcar, a Narnian palace, Laura's cabin, or other places from children's literature!

1 April 2016

This one isn't a book review, but more of an announcement about something that sounds like aficionados of children's literature would really want to hear about.  Those of you who actually know me, know that I am not really a big Disney fan, but I got a press release from Hyperion/Disney Worldwide Publishing two days ago about  this.  So apparently based on the runaway success of Universal Studios Harry Potter-based theme park in Florida, they are "excitedly exploring the possibilities" of a children's literature based series of "Adventure Habitats"

In the press release, Hyperion/Disney spokeswoman Loo Flirpa explained that they have already negotiated the rights for many of our favorite children's books and that they are actively working on other ones.  The corporation has drawn up preliminary plans for a Boxcar Children habitat which would sleep up to six people in an actual boxcar and would include a cookfire and picnic tables for outdoor dining, a swimming hole , and a spot just upstream from the swimming hole where milk and pop can be kept cold by storing it in a "cooled grotto."

In a similar vein, families could stay in an environment based on the log cabin from Laura Ingall's Wilder's Little House in the Big Woods or actually sleep overnight on the Magic School Bus.  They are also working on designs for a room designed to look like the royal chambers at Narnia's Caer Paravel.

A Hogwarts-based dorm-style facility would include space for large groups (like family reunions) from 10 to 30.  Guests could reserve dorm spaces and common rooms in the style of any of the four Hogwarts houses.



Similar dorm-type accommodations are being planned in the style of the dormitories on board the Battle School in the Ender's Game books, those depicted in the Divergent series, and also Camp Half-Blood from the Percy Jackson series. This first phase of the project would be completed to open by summer of 2017.

Lirpa seemed even more excited about another phase of the park that she referred to as "Active Adventure Habitats".  These, she says in the press release are for guests who would like an even more realistic immersion in their favorite books (though she also cautioned that such experiences are likely to be a bit pricey -- but added that they may have a program for elementary and junior high teachers to be some of the first to try the environments -- at a reduced cost).).  For example, there will be an environment based on Gary Paulsen's popular Hatchet and its alternate reality sequels including Brian's Winter.  In this "habitat", guests would be taken to what would appear to be a campsite by a lake (with the tail of a small airplane visible sticking up from the middle of the lake) where they would have to use a hatchet to chop down enough limbs to build a lean to.  When they are finished, they can fish in the lake and cook up their catch.  .The press release hastened to add that when they returned to their lean-to, a hydraulic flap on the forest floor would have slid aside revealing already made comfortable mattresses positioned so that guests can feel like they are sleeping on the ground.  At a random time in the middle of the night, Guests can expect to be woken up by a simulated moose attack!

Another "Active Adventure Habitat" would be based on Louis Sacher's bestselling Holes.  This one would accommodate larger groups.  Guests would stay in old canvas army tents and would store their clothing in orange crates labeled "X-Ray, Zigzag, Caveman, and Barfbag."  After a wonderful night's sleep, guest would be awoken by a screaming drill sergeant and would be ushered out onto a dry lakebed where they would have to dig a hole as deep as their shovels, and would be told that if they dig up anything "interesting", they should tell the warden.

In the Lord of the Rings Active Adventure Habitat, large groups could imagine trying to sleep through the battle of Helm's Deep.  The sounds of rocks breaching the walls, the screams of those being killed by invading orcs, and finally an early morning visit from Aragorn would encourage guests to put on appropriately-sized chain mail and join the battle (though Lirpa points out the battle would be staged, and more of a photo opportunity than anything else.)

Additional Active Adventure Habitats are being planned for Hunger Games, Charlotte's Web, Animal Farm, and Lord of the Flies.  This phase of the park is slated to open in the summer of 2018.

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