Middle Earth Theme Park Called 'The Shire' Currently in the Works
It was inevitable. We all knew this would happen one day, just surprised it took this long. There's an Avatar theme park in the works, Harry Potter Land is already open, Tron World is coming up, now it's time for Middle Earth. It has been announced (via EuroWeeklyNews) that a theme park is being built in Spain that will be called La Comarca, which roughly translates to The Shire, and it will be based on the universe and characters created by J.R.R. Tolkien. They already have six (!) live-action movie to choose from (between The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings trilogies), plus a couple of Rankin/Bass animated features, and all of the books and endless artwork inspired by them. This could be so cool, but we're not sure what exactly it'll have.
The theme park is being built in the town of Rincón de la Victoria in Spain (on Google Maps), located on the southern Mediterranean coast of the country. The park site will be about 20 acres in size and involves a "medium-sized lake" as the centerpiece with other areas accessible around it. The report says they have a budget with government support of around €1.7 million, which is not that much considering the cost of big modern theme parks these days. But they're planning to make it special anyway. Two local hotels, Rinconsol and Elimar, are also partnering with themed rooms. Here's the quote from Rincón de la Victoria's mayor:
"The Shire will become one of the major tourism attractions of our town. The material will have a very low environmental impact, to create an integrated image in nature," said [town's mayor Francisco] Salado.
"It will be a place in which family leisure, sports and nature will go hand-in-hand in a unique space of great beauty set in a time of fairy tales and the magic of the elves. Without a doubt, Rincon de la Victoria will have a top-rated tourist attraction, which will also add to the variety of attractions of Malaga."
I just hope it lives up to the hype. As for a tiny hint at some of their plans for the park, they do say this: "The park will be divided into different areas. The visitor will be welcomed in the area called Parque Urbano, specially conceived for those who want to enjoy the park without having to walk large distance. A second area called Zona de Aventura will have attractions inspired in the popular author's stories, amongst which the user will find climbing walls, hobbit homes, swings and slides." Wait – so, no Smaug the Dragon rollercoaster, or wet 'n wild Barrel Riders water experience? Tell me they at least have a forge where we can get our own the one ring made (or destroyed). Also, that description totally reminds me of Jurassic World.
As a huge Lord of the Rings / Tolkien fan, I couldn't help but share this news. We don't often comment on things like theme parks, but this time we're giving this one some attention for two reasons. First – it's not your typical theme park from Disney or Universal or Six Flags, it's something new and interesting, and I like that. Second – we're hopeful that it will be inspired by the cinematic Middle Earth universe as much as the Tolkien universe from his books. Aside from flying to New Zealand and touring the actual sets yourself, I've always wished someone would one day open a theme park for Lord of the Rings/Hobbit because it's such a rich world to draw from. Here's hoping Weta is involved in some way, as it won't be the same without them.