Vol. 3 No. 1 Jun 2019

Theme Park Metatexts: An Aesthetics of Inclusion and Exclusion
Author:Florian Freitag    Time:2019-07-09    Click:

This article uses the examples of guide maps, so-called autothemed rides, and apps to examine the aesthetics of theme park metatexts, that is, medial representations of theme parks or parts thereof that are produced by the parks themselves and that serve as a medial interface between the park landscape and its visitors. Such theme park metatexts have frequently been employed as sources in theme park research, but have only very rarely been figured as objects of research themselves. Based on Lukas’s description of theme parks’ representational strategies as a “politics of inclusion / exclusion,” the essay argues that theme park metatexts stress certain aspects of the park while deemphasizing others, and thus have a major impact on the way visitors anticipate, experience, and remember the park. This applies to more “traditional” forms of metatexts such as printed guide maps, which are handed out for free to theme park visitors, to “autothemed” rides, in which the theme park represents itself in the medium of the theme park ride, but especially to theme park apps, which not only further intensify the “politics of exclusion” of, for example, guide maps, but also involve the visitor in their selection processes.

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