Theme Parks: Fun or Fright?
Nancy J. Cohen
Do you love theme parks, or do you consider them scary places? Some people view these tourist traps with distaste, similar to circuses with their creepy clowns, dangerous acrobatic acts, and animal abuse. Others love the fantasy presented in their rides, familiar characters, and whimsical scenery. I’m one of the latter, although I am a fan mainly of the Orlando parks and not others. I view the neighborhood carnival through the same wary lens as I do the circus.
The bigger theme parks, however, hold an attraction for me. They can be fascinating places, magically transporting you to a realm of happiness, peace and joy. I’ve gone to Walt Disney World to celebrate my engagement, the release of my first published book, and recently our thirty-eighth anniversary. We’ve brought our kids there every year almost since they born.
Because these places elicit strong emotional responses, I’ve gravitated to using theme parks as a major element in my romantic fantasy Drift Lords series. But here I have turned them to a dark purpose, sort of like Ridley Pearson’s “Disney After Dark” books.
In my stories, the evil Trolleks—invaders from another dimension via a rift in the Bermuda Triangle—have turned theme parks and other tourist attractions to a nefarious purpose. Each of my three installments that are currently available uses this innate fear to create a sinister atmosphere in a place we look to for fun and frivolity.
Warrior Prince contains Drift World, an adult role-playing theme park in Orlando where you can live out your dream job. Nira, our heroine, visits the attraction while on an information-gathering mission. She hears an odd buzzing in her head in the presence of her guide, a lovely blonde woman named Algie, whose secrets Nira means to unravel.
Her ears tuned in to the buzzing noise in her brain. Beyond the omnipresent sound rose the splash of water, the droning of an airplane overhead, the flap of a flag in the breeze. Absent were the happy chatter and laughter of families like at other theme parks. Why this struck her as odd, she didn’t know. But something wasn’t right about this place.
In Warrior Rogue, the action takes place in Hong Kong at an attraction called Dragon Balm Gardens. What’s our hero’s quest? Why, to find the dragon, of course. This place is even less appealing than the one above. Drift Lord Paz Hadar and his lady friend, Jen, visit the park.
“What’s inside that place?” He stopped beside a mural featuring an azure sky and fluffy white clouds. Against this placid background, two dragons spewed cords at each other. The cords made a symbol in the center that looked a bit like the mansion on the hilltop.
Jen perused the pamphlet. “The pagoda contains Buddhist relics and the ashes of monks.”
Further along, they came to a scary statue of a husky man with big eyeballs, a wide sneer, and a muscular body. He carried a curved blade and looked as though he could come to life in an instant. The next path wasn’t much better. Paz glanced in horrified fascination at ancient punishments depicted by grind stones to press a person to death, body stretchers to pull limbs apart, and tools to cut out tongues from gossipers and to sever hands from thieves.
Ugh. Can it get any worse? In Warrior Lord, we’re back to a happy land called Jolheim Gardens in Copenhagen. Our heroes, Magnor and Erika, are searching for a clue to the fabled Book of Odin. They enter the Grote Mine ride, which seems innocuous. Or is it?
Short fellows with big eyes and funnel-like ears waved at them on their journey along the track. The small folk, busy digging for glowing rocks, wore friendly smiles under their miner’s helmets.
They got so close to one that she could see its eyelashes. Admiring the detail, she noted the sad look in his eyes, the smile that appeared more like a grimace, and the tear that streamed down one cheek. A tear? Water must be leaking from somewhere above.
Was it? Or were these people more real than visitors were led to believe?
So what about you? Do you adore theme parks or hate them with a passion? Which one is your favorite?
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To Buy the Drift Lords Series, go here: http://www.wildrosepublishing.com/maincatalog_v151/index.php?main_page=index&manufacturers_id=831
Nancy J. Cohen writes the humorous Bad Hair Day mystery series featuring hairdresser Marla Shore. Several of these titles have made the IMBA bestseller list. Nancy is also the author of Writing the Cozy Mystery, a valuable instructional guide for writers on how to write a winning whodunit. Her imaginative romances have proven popular with fans as well. Her titles in this genre have won the HOLT Medallion and Best Book in Romantic SciFi/Fantasy at The Romance Reviews. A featured speaker at conferences, libraries, and community events, Nancy is listed in Contemporary Authors, Poets & Writers, and Who's Who in U.S. Writers, Editors, & Poets.
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