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WHEN THE WWE WAS POISED FOR THEME PARKS AND CARNIVALS

By Kendall Jenkins on 2022-11-23 15:28:00

As a colossal entertainment company, the WWE has explored a great many opportunities, from its extensive, collectable action figures range to Beanie Babies to the somewhat bizarre WWE Talking Soap – featuring The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin encouraging you to 'wash your damn hands'. Given the spectacle that is WrestleMania each year, it’s surprising that the WWE hasn’t pivoted to more interactive, hands-on (pun intended) entertainment platforms.

Wrestling doesn’t exactly lend itself to this kind of entertainment setting, but it also doesn’t lend itself to officially licensed soap. As a world-conquering brand, having the WWE sticker attached to a park, for example, would certainly add some appeal and expand the promotion’s entertainment footprint. From the turn of the 2010s, though, WWE seemed to be going full steam ahead into the colourful world of theme parks and carnivals.

Theme Parks and Carnivals Start Popping Up in WWE Circles

Throughout the 2010s, WWE made efforts to connect fans to their superstars beyond the squared circle, ramping up content to offer on-demand entertainment 24/7. A prime example of this was in May 2014, when Brandi Rhodes and Alexa Bliss visited an amusement park on Memorial Day for the video blog series broadcast to 92 million followers on YouTube.

Filled with adrenaline-pumping rides and daring drops, theme parks can be said to mesh well with the WWE. Given the fun, carnivalesque way that WWE poses its wrestling divas, carnival and funfair settings could also work. The game Fluffy Favourites is loaded with cheeky elephants, adorable cuddly animals, and a 100x prize while in the funfair theme. So, it delivers the aesthetic that diva personas would traditionally be all over, as well as high-powered entertainment when the reels fall right.

When WWE unleashed the Dark Carnival in 2016, they effectively blended the funfair setting of low-tech fun with the more extreme vibes of a theme park. Headlined by Bayley, the WWE’s Dark Carnival featured a whole host of superstar divas going all-in on the circus and funfair theme, but in a distinctly Halloween-ready way. It wasn’t a major event, but it showed that the form of entertainment was on the minds of creative directors.

The Dropping Ride and Plans for a Whole Park

Technically speaking, the WWE has had its fingers in the theme park pie. In 2002, the company opened WWE Niagara Falls, which was a retail store that drew in crowds for superstar autograph signing events. Also, there was the WWE’s delve into theme park rides, the Pile Driver. However, by 2011, the store was defunct, and in 2017, the Pile Driver was taken to Jordan.

In 2012, World Wrestling Entertainment did enter into a special partnership with Universal Studios to create a WWE ride and Halloween event. The Undertaker: No Mercy was a horror experience that was made with the superstar at its core. The ride took fans through the craziness of The Undertaker’s back story and premise, including oppressive darkness, terror, and suffocation.

A good half-decade later, it was reported by Orlando Weekly that the WWE was preparing for a full leap into the world of theme parks. Citing entertainment designs firm Forrec, it was detailed that “full-scale outdoor WWE Theme Park sites” had been designed. Leaning into horror, the likes of the Boogeyman, Undertaker, and Andre the Giant were noted as inspirations for the designs.

Unfortunately, at this moment in time, a WWE-themed entertainment park wouldn’t be the smartest move financially, but in the years to come, the company might just revisit this idea. 

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