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."
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."
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.
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