There’s something missing in the world of Batman fandom. We have the films (both superlative and some that were awful,) several awesome tv shows, decades of great comic books, spin-offs and a million different media footprints shaped by Batman’s armour-plated size 7.5s. More of each will come; truckloads of merch will land on shelves and be rabidly snapped up; and tickets for every Bat-related event will see similar levels of excitement – but you still can’t shake the nagging suspicion that the jigsaw needs its final piece.
And that final piece ladies and gentlemen is a Batman theme park.
Let’s face it, if you’re here and reading this article, there’s a remarkably good chance that you recognise the value of Batman. The caped and cowled crusader is easily one of the most enduring icons of the mass cultural age, and the fact that his shadow spreads across multiple media is further testament to that appeal.
But it isn’t all just about the immediately recognisable costume, or the enduring principles behind the character: because of the longevity of the property, the universe has expanded, with rich additions to both the character pool and environments that would make the mine of sources hugely bountiful for a theme park.
DC should be investing as much time on such a project as they are on any potential JLA movie, considering the huge financial returns of potential rivals like Disney and Universal Studios. Especially considering neither of those two enormous entities have the same kind of brand loyalty that Batman can claim.
As if proof were ever needed, the Arkham Asylum and City games offered a tangible example of how well the Batman universe could translate over to an interactive environment. The designs have all largely been set by the films, and those games, and fans would inevitably get a kick out of being able to walk through the same streets that their heroes have guarded.
And even better, Gotham and Arkham come with some mouth-watering set-piece environments that would immediately lend themselves to theme park areas, and there can only be one place to begin…
10. Arkham Asylum – The Haunted House
Any theme park worth anything comes with a Haunted House – it’s an essential element, regardless of the focus or demographic targeted, and in Arkham Asylum lies an incredible prospect for one of the greatest ever.
Ghosts and ghouls need not apply when you have the prospect of appearances of some of the more illustrious members of Batman’s auspicious rogues’ gallery. To be perfectly frank, the setting itself, with its Gothic architecture, and the implications of what might have happened behind closed doors would be atmospheric enough before we even get to the residents.
Imagine being guided as guests through the Asylum by Hugo Strange who tells us the history of the Asylum and the tragic story of its founder Amadeus Arkham, before doors slam, a piercing cackle cuts through the air and the Joker informs us we’re all his guests, that he and his fellow inmates have taken over and the room is being flooded by new collaborator Scarecrow’s Fear toxin. How could anyone resist?
Since the technology exists to bring Tupac “back to life,” why not take advantage of similar hologram work to introduce a noticeably unhinged spectral guide through the swirling corridors of the asylum in the shape of Amadeus Arkham, leading to either the revelation that his nephew Jeremiah is working in collusion with the inmates as Black Mask, or his rescue from them.
The Haunted House would also offer an opportunity for some of the more logistically problematic characters for the theme park – like Scarecrow and Clayface – a chance to shine in a fashion suited to their status, rather than sticking a guy in a suit. The very idea of the Asylum taken over by the Joker, with both of those figures, plus Manbat set loose on guests should be exciting enough to make you weak at the knees.
Additional opportunities: Arkham Asylum video game play area for the kids with a special presentation for how the awesome video games were made… an opportunity for kids and adults to get a full make-over session to become their favourite crazed Batman character (or a custom built one) for the rest of their stay in the park)… Harley Quinn’s sweet toothed cafe!