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The emperor’s new theme park

By Rebecca Davis 17 February 2012

Disneyland Paris is so last century. If a French MP gets his way, tourists may be flocking to Paris to visit 'Napoleonland', a theme park celebrating the 19th century emperor. By REBECCA DAVIS.

This weekend, the project to build what is being called ‘Napoleonland’ will kick off in earnest, with private investors from Qatar and India wooed in the hope of funding it all. The theme park is the idea of a French MP from the centre-right Parti Radical, Yves Jego, a Napoleon fan who sees the project as his “life’s work”.  Among the features Jego foresees are a “Revolution experience” where visitors will be freed from the Bastille fort, a re-enactment of the battle of Trafalgar underwater and a recreation on Napoleon’s retreat from Russia which involves a dry ski-slope.

As you may expect, the folk across the pond haven’t greeted this idea with enthusiasm. Anti-Napoleon sentiment appears to be strong in some quarters of the UK – at least among journalists of the Daily Mail. Columnist Stephen Glover, citing Napoleon’s megalomania and reintroduction of slavery, wrote on Thursday: “A country which can still partly revere such a man surely has a problem”. In fairness, even within France Napoleon still polarises opinion, seen by some as a tyrant and others as the man who brought order and glory to post-revolutionary France. If the project goes ahead – and it seems likely it will – the park would probably not open until 2017.

TIME points out that Napoleonland, if completed, would by no means be the world’s weirdest theme park. Try the Holy Land Experience, in Florida, for instance, where you can watch a gruesome recreation of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. If you like your days out a little lighter, there’s always Dollywood, the Dolly Parton theme park which is Tennessee’s top tourist attraction. DM



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Photo: Paris may soon have a Napoleon-inspired theme park.

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