A pocket-sized theme park26 August 2020
/ by Valerio Mazzoli /
New concepts for entertainment: a proposal by Valerio Mazzoli.
One hundred years ago we had the Spanish flu, today Coronavirus. Our planet is going through another difficult period: the pandemic has completely changed the way we all live, without distinction of race, religion and culture. People are struggling to adapt to the ‘new normal’ and accept the various restrictions. But like always, we have to go on, protecting ourselves and strictly following the protocols issued by our national health authorities.
Today science is light years ahead of 1918-1920 (the years of Spanish flu), and I am personally certain that it will soon be able to beat the pandemic. However, the fact remains that what happened in the world at the beginning of 2020 has affected us all and in all areas: work, habits, the way we relate to others and spend our free time, and also (at least in this case the change has been for the better) our environmental awareness.
The consequences of the health emergency have hit many sectors hard, including everything related to leisure, holidays, sport and entertainment; in particular theme parks, structures where people are usually close together, given the large number of visitors.
For the health and safety of guests and staff members, parks took the initiative, limiting the number of visitors and adopting extraordinary protocols; however as always, there is a downside! First the lockdown and then the emergency measures mean earnings are much lower than normal, which in many cases made theme parks decide to stay closed for the 2020 season, so as to avoid making things worse.
Even in our sector of design and development of leisure facilities, the pandemic has had a major impact, affecting many aspects. Personally, I decided that it was necessary to come up with an idea for a different park, without straying from the goal of entertainment. So after various studies, revisions, adaptations (and sketches thrown into the waste paper basket), the concept of Benny and his Friends was born: a small theme park that I have called “pocket-sized”, the result of an editorial idea for children I developed together with my son Davide Simon, with the first book to be published shortly around the world in multiple languages.
The world of Benny and his Friends covers an indoor area of 600sq.m. The setting is a remote corner of Mr Bloom’s garden, a big man with a kind heart, the caretaker of a scrap depot, who lives alone with his dog. Mr Bloom does not know that in his garden there is a small world inhabited by various animals (an ant, a mouse, a couple of earthworms, etc.), with fantastic stories and adventures that children can experience every day. Passing through a magic gate, young visitors can enter this universe, themselves becoming the heroes of unforgettable adventures. In Mr Bloom’s garden, everything is gigantic: the flowers, the blades of grass, the objects scattered around the place, including an old toy pick-up truck. Benny’s world is also well organised: once having passed through the gate, visitors will be given a detailed map that illustrates the path to follow.
In a limited space, we have managed to place important small and medium-sized rides, yet with considerable capacity, in compliance with all current health and safety measures relating to COVID-19.
The project is divided into macro-zones: party rooms, interactive games, a small theatre and many other games and attractions that are easy to upgrade. As mentioned, it is a pocket-sized theme park, yet with great business potential, clear and reduced costs, and various placement opportunities.
In my career as a designer and developer of theme parks and entertainment facilities, I have always tried to create something new that can amaze visitors. This time the challenge was quite difficult, but I think I have managed to conceive something new to make our children happy.
Taken from Games&Parks Industry July/August 2020, page 96
Valerio Mazzoli / theme park & attraction designer / firstname.lastname@example.org