Proprietary Communities

Anarchy, State, and Amusement Park

|

Friday fun link: Cracked's guide to "the 9 most baffling theme parks from around the world," including attractions devoted to sex, Stalinism, and the Buddha (an eternal golden braid). My favorite might be the Shijingshan Amusement Park in Beijing, identified here as "the copyright infringiest place on Earth!"

China, determined to reinforce stereotypes of producing nothing but cheap knock offs, is the location for a completely bootleg theme park. Shijingshan Amusement Park has a lot of familiar faces, although park officials refer to them in not so familiar ways.

Here, for instance, is "Duck" and "Girl Cat."

Cracked

Those who aren't idiots might notice that the cat has rather large, round ears, or the fact that it's a blatant copy of Minnie Mouse. Other characters can be seen throughout the park including a goofy dog, a peasant girl turned princess in glass slippers and a sleeping beauty. Disney bosses have issued numerous copyright infringement lawsuits and recently park workers destroyed the sleeping beauty statues with sledgehammers, and gave no official reason as to why.

I have a pet theory, part Robert Nozick and part Andre Breton, that every conceivable utopia will eventually be realized in the form of a specialized shopping mall or amusement park. Traditional leftists will dismiss these part-time communities as mere capitalist cooptation, but I say they will actually expand the range of social alternatives, because they will allow entrepreneurs to enact visions that could never attract political support. No one would vote or go to the barricades for a society devoted to "the crassest visual gags possible." But in Denmark, Cracked reports, enough people are curious enough to visit such a place to keep Bon Bon Land afloat.

Bonus link: New Jersey's infamous Action Park, which one writer describes fondly as "a testing site for water rides using humans as their crash dummies." Surely it deserved a place in the Cracked list.

Bonus quote: From the mad urbanist Ivan Chtcheglov:

We know that the more a place is set apart for free play, the more it influences people's behavior and the greater is its force of attraction. This is demonstrated by the immense prestige of Monaco and Las Vegas—and of Reno, that caricature of free love—though they are mere gambling places. Our first experimental city would live largely off tolerated and controlled tourism. Future avant-garde activities and productions would naturally tend to gravitate there. In a few years it would become the intellectual capital of the world and would be universally recognized as such.

Sounds like Busch Gardens to me!

NEXT: The Pomo Mind

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Action Park is (was? I thought it had closed?) the fucking coolest park EVAR. The crash dummies quote is 100% accurate. They had water slides that were so fast they literally (and I mean it in its correct usage) would give you an enema. I did a bungee-jump there. They had a miniature formula 1 race track. So totally, totally awesome.

    That place was so fun it has to be shut down now.

  2. I thought it had closed?

    It has.

  3. Then I am glad I went as many times as I did. I think it was either 3 or 4 times.

  4. If not for Disney’s constant lobbying to get copyright terms expanded, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck would be public domain characters by now and those knock-off parks would exist in the US as well as in China.

  5. Right. One can never have too much giant duck.

  6. I live in Orlando.
    One of these days I am going to visit Holy Land, but I keep putting it off. Seems a lot more fun than boring old Disney World.

  7. Our first experimental city would live largely off tolerated and controlled tourism. Future avant-garde activities and productions would naturally tend to gravitate there

    I don’t think so. Theme parks, casinos and other similar environments are the most rigidly structured and controlled communities in the free world. Creating a safe environment for people to let their hair down in requires unobtrusively micromanaging everything down to the finest detail. Individualistic creativity does not thrive in such places.

    Historically, great creative booms in all areas have arose in chaotic, all-hogs-to-trough. capitalist communities as exemplified by Renaissance Florence, 16th century Amsterdam, 18th century London, 20th century New York etc. Open experimentation in economic matters precedes and nurtures booms in creativity in other fields.

  8. Jesse, I just read the wikipedia link. Man, that brought back some great memories.

    Did you ever go?

  9. * Tank Ride: This was one of the most popular rides at Motoworld (it featured prominently in the television ads). It was more dangerous for employees than patrons.[12]

    In a chainlink fence-enclosed area, small tanks could be driven around for a fee for five minutes at a time, with tennis ball cannons that enabled riders to shoot at a sensor prominently mounted on each tank. If hit, the tank stopped operating for 15 seconds, while other tankers often took advantage of the delay to pepper the stricken vehicle with more fire.

    Visitors on the outside could also join in the fun through less costly cannons mounted on the inside of the fence. When workers had to enter the cage to attend to a stuck or crashed tank, which usually happened several times a day, they were often pelted with tennis balls from every direction despite prohibitions against such behavior that could result in expulsion from the park. It is not known if this resulted in any serious injuries, but it made the tank ride the least popular place to work in the park.

    OH MY FUCKING GOD. Action Park must have been the greatest place that ever existed.

  10. destroyed the sleeping beauty statues with sledgehammers, and gave no official reason as to why

  11. result in expulsion

    One can only imagine by what mechanism.

  12. Episiarch: No, I didn’t learn about it until years after it closed.

    Shannon: Yes, I know.

  13. If not for Disney’s constant lobbying to get copyright terms expanded, Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck would be public domain characters by now and those knock-off parks would exist in the US as well as in China.

    I’m a supporter of IP right, including, reasonable copyright laws, but that sort of crap just pisses me off. It doesn’t matter how the corporate interests anf legislators dress it up, it’s justice for sale.

  14. OH MY FUCKING GOD. Action Park must have been the greatest place that ever existed.

    Yes. What’s funny when reading the wikipedia article is that back then, you didn’t view the rides as particularly dangerous. Yeah, you knew people got hurt, but that was because they were idiots and someone like me was far too coordinated to get hurt.

    And the employees really did stay out of your hair. You could do something out-fucking-rageous and they’d laugh along with the rest of the crowd.

    Good times.

  15. The best part of Cartmanland is that you can’t get in! Ha ha ha ha hah hah.

  16. Action Park
    From Wikipedia;

    “Super Go Karts: The karts were meant to be driven around a small loop track at a speed of about 20 mph (32 km/h) set by the governor devices on them. But park employees knew how to circumvent the governors by wedging tennis balls into them, and were known to do so for parkgoers. As a result, an otherwise standard small-engine car ride became a chance to play bumper cars at 50 mph (80 km/h), and many injuries resulted from head-on collisions.
    The engines were not well-maintained, and some riders were overcome by gas fumes as they drove.

    LOLA cars: These were miniature open-cockpit race cars on a longer track. Extra money was charged to drive them, and they, too, could be adjusted for speed by knowledgeable park employees, with similarly harmful consequences to riders.

    Most awesome.

    Fergus said that after the park management briefly set up a microbrewery nearby, employees looking for after-hours fun would break into it, steal the beer, and then ride the cars on Route 94.

    I wished I had the chance to go. What Fun!

  17. So, our their any Anarchy Parks anywhere, like in the Niven stories (especially like the one that is his explanation of why he isnt a libertarian)?

    For those who havent read it, it was a park (like your normal city park) in which the only rule was “No violence”. There were floating orbs watching everything and zapped anyone attempting to use violence (actually, both the attacker and the attackee got zapped). They would wake up at the entrance an hour or so later.

    In the story, throwing rocks and knocking down the orbs was perfectly acceptable. They were cheaply made and there were plenty of them. Plus they dodged, IIRC. A guy came up with a device to knock them all down at once, via an electronic device. It turned the park into true anarchy.

  18. I remember that story . . .

  19. typing hard today:

    “are there any” not “our their any”.

    Wow, that was bad.

  20. I remember the TV commercials for Action Park, but alas, was never able to go.

  21. I remember seeing a version of the Tank Ride at a small park outside of Dewey Beach, Delaware when I was a kid. I wanted to ride but my parents wouldn’t let me participate.

    Funny, it’s almost as if they knew how not to endanger me without someone in the government telling them that the ride is unsafe. Quaint, isn’t it?

  22. Action Park is proof positive that Jerseyans are tougher than the average American.

  23. At Action Park is also a good album

  24. I grew up about 20 minutes from Action Park, and went maybe 8-10 times. My only story is riding the alpine slide when I was 8 or 9. I was flying down (of course) with no brakes, came around a bend and saw, much too late, a long line of stopped cars. I hit the back one, and landed in the lap of someone five or six cars ahead. God, that was awesome.

  25. “Alas, poor Action Park. I knew it, Horatio. A place of infinite jest, most excellent fancy. Those waterslides bore me on my back a thousand times; and now, how
    abhorred in my imagination it is.”

    Skipping school, getting baked and going to action park was something many high school kids in NY did as often as possible. I witnessed a half dozen concussions, many near drownings, and 20something jersey assholes predictibly getting into fistfights.

    All of it was worth it. Even the poop fragments in the pools. RIP, old friend.

  26. Why no mention of Duff Gardens?

  27. Action Park: Now it’s called Mountain Creek or something, I dunno.

    But the DH Biking there is a good spot if you don’t feel like trekking up to Splattekill.

  28. The best part of Action Park was it was open during a time when marijuana was essentially legal in the tri state area.

    The worst part (for me) was when I sat up in an underground waterslide and stopped sliding. Pitch dark, I realized there’ll be another patron coming down any second, so I started to crab walk down the tube while trying not to panic. The next guy did go down, moving so fast he was on the top of the tube while I was crawling on the bottom, but he did manage to kick me in the head with his foot (I guess, it was too dark to see). Thankfully, the tube inclined and I built up speed and finished the run.

    My girlfriend (who went in right before me) was surprised to see another guy come flying out of the tube into a pool right after her, and then me a few seconds later.

  29. If eventually there will be a park for every taste, what will Joe’s park be like?

    Will they allow you to attend the construction of a park, and arbitrarily stop them from building stuff you don’t like, or make the crews knock things down and start over randomly?

  30. As a formerly rough ‘n’ tumble nation we’ve devolved from Action Park
    to adults wearing bike helmets. Sad.

  31. Stop summoning joe. He gets cranky when his name is taken in vain.

  32. Action Park was the coolest! I was just reading their wikipedia pages, and found that I had the priveledge of riding the “Cannonball Run” (looping water slide) that was almost never open, and almost certainly should have killed me.

  33. Jonathan Hohensee: I gotta go to that place. Disney has Mickey and Cinderella, et al, and their marketing always shows some little kid enthralled by the characters. Well, the Holy Land Experience, (“Visit Jerusalem in Orlando!?”) shows a kid with JESUS!!! The caption on that photo says, “Look into the eyes of the One who changed the course of history.” I think what they mean it, “look into some bearded guy’s scraggly face.”

  34. “Touch his robes. Feel the flesh beneath them. Experience Jesus as only Mary did!”

  35. What happened to the Cracked magazine of my youth? They would have never attacked a theme park for tasteless humor because they were biggest proponents of it.

  36. I think Diggerland is totally lame, but dancing diggers would make an awesome olympic event.

  37. I loved Cory Doctorow’s take on the Magic Kingdom.

  38. I loved Cory Doctorow’s take on the Magic Kingdom.

    My favorite book from Sci-Fi Lit class. Even more so than Dune…

  39. Well, the Holy Land Experience, (“Visit Jerusalem in Orlando!?”) shows a kid with JESUS!!!

    Wasn’t there some pretty specific passages in the Bible about graven images?

  40. Well, the Holy Land Experience, (“Visit Jerusalem in Orlando!?”) shows a kid with JESUS!!! The caption on that photo says, “Look into the eyes of the One who changed the course of history.”

    OMGWTFLOLBBQ!
    Why haven’t I heard of this before?

  41. I lived near The Money Losingest Place On Earth, Freedomland. Actually I still live there, even closer in fact, but now it’s Co-op City, where the streets are named after socialists.

    Robert

  42. — and of Reno, that caricature of free love —

    You’re God damn right it’s a caricature. Love in Reno will set you back $300/hour. More if she’s good looking.

  43. recently park workers destroyed the sleeping beauty statues with sledgehammers, and gave no official reason as to why

    Who says you gotta have a reason?

  44. These guys are pikers. Absolutely nothing in the world compares with Haw Par Villa, also known as Tiger Balm Gardens or Tiger Balm Theme park, especially the Ten Courts of Buddhist Hell. Enter if you dare, but don’t blame me if you can’t sleep tonight.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/doctorow/41102153/in/set-925506/

  45. I went to Action park once, I was only 12 in ’96 so I was either 12 or younger, it was a fun time, but I only ended up going on 4 rides the entire day because the park was so crowded. The tarzan swing, cliff dive, the big tube ride that seats like 6 people – we got stuck at the point where that ride forked, the tube just lapped up onto the wall and got stuck. I remember seeing the cannonball one, didn’t go on it, I really don’t see how that even worked.

  46. Yeah, that was the thing about Action Park – lines could be so bad on the weekends that it was prohibative to get your money’s worth. Thats why skipping school on a wednesday or something was the ideal approach.

  47. Inspired by this post from a couple weeks back?

  48. Damn, where’s Doherty and the obligatory reference to Burning Man?

  49. One interesting thing about [Tr]Action Park is that it was just a short ride on Route 94 and then over a high ridge from the seasonal Renaissance Faire in Tuxedo Park, NY, where my friend Nadine used to perform and smoke pot with the other performers while still in character in certain corners of the woods.

    And I see that Freedomland has inspired a book and from that, a movie. Very little cx to the theme park from the movie from what I’ve read.

    If you want your money’s worth from a theme park, just visit any mental hospital and ask to talk to the manics, or schizoaffectives in a manic phase. Bring them cigarets.

  50. Anarchy, State, and Cartmanland
    1. No Jews allowed
    2. I hate you guys
    3. Kyle’s mom is a big fat bitch
    4. Cheesy poof subsidies

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.