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Fri February 17, 2012
Let Them Eat Funnel Cake: A Napoleon-Based Theme Park for France
No celebrity can be truly world renown unless they have their own theme park. Mickey Mouse and Disney have theirs. Now, Napoleon might get his chance too.
Christian Mantei the head of Atout France, the tourism group supporting the endeavor, once told the The Economist that "bosses at Disneyland Paris once said that only Napoleon had the stature to take on Mickey Mouse".
Well, that epic battle may become a reality. The proposal calls for a 250-acre amusement park to celebrate the French Emperor, one that could "conquer the land of Mickey Mouse".
The Guardian reported that "Napoleonland" will be built near the town of Montereau, the site of a Napoleonic victory in 1814 and located only one hour from Paris... and Disneyland.
All the details about the project are scheduled to be revealed on Saturday, the 198th anniversary of Napoleon's battle at Montereau.
Current plans are to recreate some of Napoleon's famous battles through reenactments, including his defeat at the Battle of Waterloo. If reenactments aren't your cup of tea however, other options are a water show documenting the Battle of Trafalgar or even a ski slope where skiers are transported through a simulated scene of Napoleon's disastrous campaign through Russia while skiing through "frozen corpses of soldiers and horses".
But, the attractions wouldn't be limited to Napoleon's battles. The Guardian and an artists' representation of the possible park details how visitors could experience famous moments of the French Revolution. Starting with the storming of the Bastille, where audience members would relive the progression of the revolution up to the beheading of Louis XVI at the guillotine.
For Yves Jégo, the project's creator — Montereau's current mayor and former French MP — the concept was not only about honoring Napoleon, but stirring economic growth.
Jégo told us that "the idea for the park came about as a way to create jobs and attract economic growth in the region". He predicts that the park could create almost 3,000 jobs and attract between one and two million visitors in its first year of operation.
In a recent blog post on his website, Jégo wrote that the estimated cost of the park would be 250 million euros with investments coming from a public-private partnership yet to be named.
For Jégo, "Americans had success with Disney, why not France with Napoleon?"
(Xavier Lacombe is a intern on NPR's Social Media Desk.)