Religious theme parks

Authored by: Lena Rose

The Routledge Handbook of Religious and Spiritual Tourism

Print publication date:  July  2021
Online publication date:  July  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367191955
eBook ISBN: 9780429201011
Adobe ISBN:


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Within the tourist industry, theme parks are particularly unique spaces. They consist of an enclosed or enclave space that usually features different rides, performances, shows, and amenities that are in line with a specific theme or a central story, which engulfs the visitor and unifies the different attractions. One example is the Huis Ten Bosch theme park in Sasebo, Nagasaki, Japan, also dubbed ‘Little Europe,’ which is a recreation of The Netherlands (Hendry 2000: 43). The most widely known and still most lucrative theme parks are the Disney theme parks (Rubin 2018). Started in the 1950s, Disney theme parks reinvented the largely ‘un-themed’ amusement parks that had been popular since the beginning of the twentieth century (Adams 1991; Davis 1996; Lukas 2013). Indeed, theme parks, as partly cultural displays, are an evolution of public exhibitions of cultural artifacts from the eighteenth century, which played an important role in forming a national citizenry amid the rise of nation-states (Dicks 2004). These later developed into world exhibitions and fairs (Rydell 1993; Greenhalgh 2011), which were designed as mini theme parks and therefore important precursors to contemporary theme parks (Mitchell 1988).

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