At long last we are realising that there needs to be more for tourists to do here than clamber over funny-shaped rocks on a damp North Coast, or taking snaps of sub-GCSE ‘artwork’ adorning gable walls. Witnessing the whole ‘2012 Our Time Our Place’ hyperbole, and listening to the nonsense spouted by some politicos, you’d think the whole world had its eye on the North, eager to see just how wonderful we are, and queing in their thousands to take a holiday here.
I hate to remind them that there might be a few other events hogging the globe’s attention this year other than us. Some sort of sports event in London I think.
Predictably, a suggestion that we get more involved with the Irish ‘Homecoming’ event next year to maximise the number of tourists here was snubbed by some of a unionist persuasion.
I almost choked when I heard one claim we didn’t need to get involved in the all-Ireland tourist drive, as we were hosting the World Police and Fire Games next year, as if that would have Japanese visitors flocking to Mary Peter’s Track with an arsenal of Nikons.
As great as a sports day for coppers and firefighters is, it isn’t going to be enough to make people want to come here. Neither, unfortunately, is a gigantic Titanic gift shop. There’s only one thing that’s going to have people coming to our shores en-masse, and that’s a theme park.
First up I’m not talking about Funderland/Planet Puke and the travelling fairs that do the rounds here, but an all-out hyper-expensive, adrenaline junky’s paradise…you know, like every other country worth its salt already has.
Ireland is lacking this simple solution to getting families to visit, and I’ve often wondered why on earth this is? It’s not like we don’t have enough ‘themes’ for the park to take on as its image after all.
Imagine a Titanic Land, with a giant sinking ship ride…genius, no?
Might help brighten up the docklands, and surely we could put those two giant yellow cranes to use, perhaps as some sort of huge swing?
What’s that? Not bad taste enough? And you’re sick to death of that ship?
Well lets capitalise on our other reputation, bar being great shipbuilders, that of being excellent at hating each other.
Sectarian City would be a themed ranch where tourists could get a real flavour of the North. For rides we could have the ‘Peace Process’ rollercoaster, where you can go up and down, round and round, before stopping at the an agreeable status quo that tries to accommodate everyone, but leaves some thrill seekers wanting their money back (watch out for the sharp bend known as Paisley U-Turn Corner)
All the rage in the likes of Alton Towers and Thorpe Park, are ‘walk-through” attractions, like haunted house simulators, where horrific sub-human creatures pop out of the dark to give you a fright.
In that mould we could have the ‘Glue Sniffer Break-In’, where you wonder around a simulation of your own house in the dark, before being jumped by spides armed with screwdrivers demanding the keys to your car.
After such a frightening experience, visitors could be cheered up by the jolly incompetence of the ‘Police Report’ where visitors recount their break-in experience to cops, whose bumbling and failure to do anything about it will have you laughing.
Shooting galleries with teenage kneecaps instead of targets can win you a false sense of machismo rather than a cuddly toy, and new attraction, ‘The Wheelie Bin’ will see you turned upside down and carried around a mock-up of the your favourite neighbourhood.
Look, if we don’t build Sectarian City, we’ll end up with Finn McCool’s Adventure Land.
It’s all about showing the world what we’re good at, and having a European monopoly on blind hatred is a pretty impressive claim.
The only other theme park could be a George Best Land? I’m guessing we could get a lot of rides out of that.