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Dreamworld's Corroboree illustrates Australia's Indigenous history and culture

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Published: February 19, 2014 at 11:07 PM

We're written recently on the potential of nonfiction attractions in theme parks, so we'd be remiss not to note a non-fiction attraction opening tomorrow in Australia.

Dreamworld, on Australia's Gold Coast, is opening Corroboree on Friday. Designed by Earthstory, working with Indigenous consultants, Corroboree is "Australia's first dedicated Indigenous theme park attraction."

Corroboree theater

According to a statement from Earthstory, the attraction illustrates Australia's "human history with an immersive walk-through experience celebrating 50,000 years of historical and contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture. Fascinating subjects such as totem culture and sacred creation stories are explored, while the challenging issues of European colonisation and the Stolen Generations are given their due respect."

Creation of the Gold Coast
Illustrations courtesy Earthstory

The attraction's centerpiece is a 4D theater, playing a film produced by an Aboriginal artist, featuring the story of the local Yugambeh people. A walk-through will also offer hands-on activities including fire making, weapon throwing and music making. The attraction also will include live-animal exhibits, from koalas to crocodiles, to illustrate their importance to Native culture.

If you're looking for a similar attraction in the United States, you might be in for a long search. The closest comparison might be with Knott's Berry Farm's Mystery Lodge, a BRC Imagination Arts production that features a North American native storyteller. Epcot's American Adventure nods toward Native culture with a brief appearance by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce, but non-fiction looks at Native cultures are a tough topic for entertainment. Face it, people don't want to look in the mirror and see the face of the bad guy oppressor.

Ultimately, as we wrote earlier, job of a theme park attraction is not to educate. It's to entertain. But wonderfully diverse Native cultures provide rich opportunities for engagement. And in doing that, themed entertainment should create a spark of interest, a moment of lasting affinity which leads a visitor to want to learn more, providing the opportunity that an educator, in a school, a museum or elsewhere, needs to do her or his work. If that happens within the attraction itself, all the better.

Have you visited Dreamworld? Tell us about your trip, and offer your suggestions to potential visitors, in the comments.

Readers' Opinions

From Anon Mouse on February 20, 2014 at 9:35 AM
Examples of non-fiction attractions are San Francisco Pier 39, which I went via the Disney cruise. There are several attractions that stand out. The free Sea Lions exhibit, the aquarium, and 7D Experience. In the last one, they featured an earthquake ride, but there are also alternative ride experiences like battling zombies.

The Canada Place in Vancouver where I boarded the Disney cruise has an attraction called the Flyover Canada. I did not go, but I assume it is similar to DCA's Soarin'.

Non-fiction attractions have a place, but I am convinced that Disney doesn't do a good job of it. The natural environment of San Francisco creates many opportunities to create non-fiction attractions due to location. Disney parks are located in vacated land and doesn't take advantage of local points of interest. Anaheim is located in former orange groves. Orlando was a swamp.

Perhaps Aulani is the exception where everything in Hawaii is absolutely beautiful, but it's not anywhere close to where people want to be like the Waikiki or the North Shore. The beach is really a lagoon. Close enough I suppose.

From Aaron McConnell on February 20, 2014 at 6:26 PM
Dreamworld is one of my "local" parks, and over the past it decade has become more of a Six Flags-style amusement park with less of an emphasis on themed environments (probably the closest equivalent would be Discovery Kingdom). The park actively promotes their "big eight" thrill rides, although a recent injection of cash from Dreamworks has produced a fairly decent Shrek/Madagascar/Kung Fu Panda themed area.

Hopefully this addition will be both tasteful and entertaining - my experience with Knotts' Mystery Lodge is that it seemed like an attraction that would be more at home in a museum than a theme park. Dreamworld has been moderately successful at attracting Asian tourists to the wildlife section of the park, it will be interesting to see how well "Corroboree" appeals to this market.

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