Saturday, February 16, 2013

The Dinosaurs Of Mallorca

The film director Mel Brooks, if I remember rightly, once came up with a gag about Hasidic park. I'm reminded of this because Mallorca may well find itself, only some kilometres apart, with two theme parks. One, the Christian theme park in Inca, is meant to embrace religions other than Christianity, hence, possibly, Hasidism; the other, in Sineu, would appear to be some sort of Jurassic Park (which was the basis for Brooks' gag). The two parks could be put together, and an element of one might mean that the gag was realised.

The plan for a dinosaur theme park leaves me feeling distinctly underwhelmed. The developers say that everyone is interested in the history of dinosaurs and so it will be a great success. I don't know, is everyone interested? Or is everyone just a little tired of dinosaurs? The idea has a touch of the dinosaur about it: a lumbering concept that had been Spielberged into popular culture and has been done to death ever since to the point of extinction.

Possibly dinosaurs haven't reached the end of their life cycle as excuses for theme parks or any other dino-based venture, but like pirates and their increasing proliferation on Mallorca, dinosaurs are a default setting for me-too family entertainment. They are unimaginative and old news. Does Mallorca really want to be a repository for re-working familiar themes? I'm far from convinced that a Christian theme park gives the island the right image. Add a dinosaur park as well, and Mallorca might look like somewhere that has run out of ideas while at the same time offering an attraction (the Christian park) that is out of keeping with a general touristic style.

The dino park will require that the Council of Mallorca declare that it is in the island's general interest. This is a procedural necessity and one that has been brought to bear in, for instance, approving new hotel developments. Because it would occupy a plot of so-called rustic land, there are certain constraints which might need to be worked around, such as the provision of energy sources and guaranteeing the integrity of flora and fauna. As with the Christian theme park and any other development of whatever type, one can already hear the rustling in the undergrowth of the environmental lobby preparing its objections. Things can take an awfully long time in Mallorca because of all the challenges to developments. By the time these have all been exhausted, it may not only be dinosaurs which are extinct.

It appears that the land that is being earmarked for dino park could do with a spot of tidying up. It is rustic but it is also, in a natural way, rusting. Neglected (it had been used for paintball before it was realised that there wasn't authorisation for this), it could do with being put to some use, and use that might actually make it appear attractive. This is not the sort of argument, however, which carries much weight with the enviros.

Sineu town hall backs the scheme. It would help, so it says, with bringing more tourists into the town. But would it? Like the Inca theme park site is out of town, so is the land for dino park. The chances are that visitors would be bussed in and then bussed out, never setting foot in Sineu itself. And then there is the location. Sineu is pretty much at the geographical centre of Mallorca. This might sound like an advantage in that the theme park would draw on the different areas of tourist accumulation, but there is an inherent disadvantage in not being right in or by one of these tourist centres. The House of Katmandu, just to give one example of a fairly new attraction on Mallorca, was sited in Magalluf. In all likelihood, it would have been a complete flop had it been in Sineu or some other part of the island's centre.

Of course, dino park could be fabulous. It could get the excursions coaches rolling in. But does it really set the pulse racing? The other theme park, the one about which we no longer hear anything and about which we may never hear anything more, did at least have something going for it in that it sounded exciting in its array of attractions. Mallorca, if it is to have theme parks, needs parks that really grab the attention, those that are innovative and could be considered representative of a dynamic, modernising tourism destination. Dinosaurs don't really do it in this respect. Like all the johnny-come-lately pirates should be forced to walk the plank or come up with something more inspiring, then so the dinosaurs should be threatened with being meteored by 2012DA14, the asteroid discovered by the observatory in Costitx, and made to think up something less dinosaur-like.

Any comments to please.

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