Open just this past April, Dickens World (http://www.dickensworld.co.uk/) is a theme park devoted to Charles Dickens.
"Scrooge's haunted house held merely a parade of holograms of Dickens characters, with Scrooge's hologram on strike the day we visited. Also broken was the Great Expectations Boat Ride through the streets of London. Technical glitches dogged the place. A ghoul in black cape and skull mask, who trailed us through the haunted house, failed to pass through a rope barrier and had to clamber over it like the rest of us.
More seriously, the actors, though energetic, played Victorian street stereotypes instead of Dickens characters speaking his words. Where was Magwitch clutching the wrist of a child visitor, or Nancy begging for help as she fled Bill Sykes?
Where was the Artful Dodger, "as roistering and swaggering a young gentleman as ever stood four feet six, or something less", as the writer described him? At Dickens World, Fagin's Den is not a grimy school for pickpockets but a children's soft play area.
Granted, realism has limits: there can't be rats in the restaurant; visitors can't get typhoid. But Dickens World needs crying voices, street waifs, chimney sweeps with blackened faces. It promises a taste of "dark, smoky, moody London, full of smells and mist". So give us pong. Let's smell London's Big Stink of 1858 and learn why Dickens campaigned to clean it up.
With digital technology, new storytelling techniques that museums have pioneered and with legions of unemployed actors in cities such as London, there are huge opportunities to bring history and literature to life. At a World War II exhibit in London's Imperial Museum, a nurse grabbed our children and told them in urgent Cockney tones why they had to leave London for the country straightaway: the Blitz was about to begin. It was enthralling.
Or imagine a Bronte World, where Heathcliff and Catherine appear, where panels and films describe the sisters' lives and children are invited to write about or paint the mad woman in the attic. If it brings new readers, it need not provoke a sneer.
Later we drove to nearby Rochester, where Dickens lived as an adult. We found the forbidding red-brick manor on which he modelled Miss Haversham's house. Wisteria ran down the iron gate, and there were cobwebs on the wall. Inside, a piano played. It was an eerie moment to which nothing in the theme park came close.
"I saw no reason," wrote Dickens about his book, Oliver Twist, "why the very dregs of life should not serve the purpose of a moral, at least as well as its froth and cream."
Dickens World needs more dregs, less froth; more Dickens, less Disney."
See the complete article here: http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news...623911396.html
And a related story here: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19211348/site/newsweek/