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Distributed for Reaktion Books

Theme Park

Theme parks are a uniquely interactive and enduring form of entertainment that have influenced architecture, technology, and culture in surprising ways for more than a century, as Scott Lukas now reveals in his compelling historical chronicle.

Theme Park takes the primitive amusements of pleasure gardens as its starting point and launches from there into a rich, in-depth investigation of the evolution of the theme park over the twentieth century. Lukas examines theme parks in countries around the world—including in the United States, Mexico, Europe, Japan, China, South Africa, and Australia—and how themed fairs and parks developed through diverse means and in a variety of settings. The book examines world-famous and lesser-known parks, including the early parks of Coney Island; Madrid’s Movieworld; a series of World Fairs and their luxurious exhibition halls; Six Flags parks and virtual theme parks today; and, of course, the unparalleled achievements of Disneyland and Disney World.

Lukas analyzes the theme park as a living entity that unexpectedly shapes people, their relationships, and the world around them. Theme parks have now become complex representations of the human mind itself, he contends, through its interpretations of books, feature films, video games, and Web sites. Ultimately, Theme Park reveals, the wider influence of theme parks can be found in the shopping malls, branded stores, and casinos that employ the tricks and techniques of amusement parks to dominate our entertainment world today.
Packed with captivating illustrations, Theme Park takes us on historical roller coaster ride that both reanimates the places that shaped our childhoods and anticipates the future of escapism and fantasy fun.

272 pages | 26 color plates, 99 halftones | 6 x 8 2/5 | © 2008


Architecture: Architecture--Criticism

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"The examples presented of modern theme-park practice make for compelling reading. Theme parks enable international travel wihtout the worry of jet lag; pilgrims can journey to the Holy Land Experience in Orlando, where the visitor is greeted with a welcoming ’Shalom’ instead of checkpoints for potential suicide bombers. . . . To Lukas, the world is rapidly becoming a reflection of the theme park, with its emphasis on sanitation and order."

Times Higher Education

“This book is both a sophisticated social scientific review of the history, development and transformation of theme parks and an entertaining and extremely well-written journey through the world’s vacation venues . . . Lukas provides a variety of perspectives and insights into this interesting aspect of an alternative social experience . . . fun and informative . . . a memorable ride.”

Studies in Popular Culture

 “Written from an anthropological and sociological perspective, Lukas puts forward an intriguing and fresh view on the definition and relevance of theme parks to our everyday lives. Indeed, he believes that they have achieved a wider significance by becoming complex representations of the human mind itself . . . this beautifully illustrated and enthralling book convinces the reader to sympathize with Lukas’s view that the world is rapidly becoming a reflection of the theme park.”

Journal of Design History

Table of Contents

1   Theme Park as Oasis
2   Theme Park as Land
3   Theme Park as Machine
4   Theme Park as Show
5   Theme Park as Brand
6   Theme Park as Text
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements

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