One of the joys of discovering theme parks around the world, instead of just limiting your focus to your home country, is learning about some of the characters and stories that are beloved by people in other nations.
Of course, sometimes local favorites stay local because they don't translate well across cultures and the rest of the world just isn't down with the story. (Seriously, Netherlands, what they heck is up with Black Pete? I'm still reeling thinking about a first-world, Western country openly embracing something like that.) But other local favorites don't make the leap to global appeal simply because they get crowded out by the dominance of American and British IP. So I appreciate when parks around the world make space for local heroes.
Europa Park is opening a new train ride themed to a popular German children's franchise with Jim Button - Journey Through Morrowland, which debuts later this month.
Based on "Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver" by the late author Michael Ende (best known to American audiences for "The Neverending Story"), the attraction will feature eight trains that circle a small track, visiting two "mountains" on the island of Morrowland. Visitors can ring the literal bells and whistles on the trains as they ride.
Sure, it's a kiddie ride, but if you visit theme parks for the stories and the settings as much as (or more than) the physical thrills, here is another narrative to discover. Until Europa Park sent its announcement of the ride, I'd never heard of this story, but some quick searching online suggests that it includes plenty of the whimsy and fantasy that can make for an alluring children's adventure. And there seems to be enough symbolism in it for adults to debate, as well. German readers, please fill us in on the rest.
Warner Bros. is releasing a film version of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver later this month in Germany, starring Shirley MacLaine, but I've not found any release date for the film in America.
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Now open, or date announced:
Still waiting on these: