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From cardboard cathedrals to plasticine porters with looking glass ties

Updated on April 17, 2012
A mock-up of the new cardboard cathedral planned for the city formerly known as Christchurch
A mock-up of the new cardboard cathedral planned for the city formerly known as Christchurch | Source

This is hot news and you are the first lucky person I have chosen to share it with. I have just heard that Disney has bought Christchurch. It is their plan to turn it into a theme park along the lines of the Disneyland and Disney World attractions in California and Florida.

The Disney execs liked the idea of Christchurch because they had heard the town had a clown for a mayor and a Mickey Mouse council. They plan to rename it Jellytown. The investment has been okayed by the OIO (what projects are ever rejected by them?) so work can begin right away.

Although I was initially surprised when I heard about the purchase, I have to say that the more I think about it, the more I can see how it makes sense. There is scope for energy savings on an enormous scale. Most of the rides will be able to be seismically powered and the liquefaction could be lit by a bank of solar panels in all the colours of the rainbow. Another reason this development makes sense is that with land as unstable as the blancmange we used to call Christchurch, conventional buildings are always going to be a risk. With the theme park idea it is possible to reject conventional building materials and instead use products that will cause little injury should they collapse.

The first theme has already been commissioned and this will be Churchworld. Here a recreation of the cathedral town’s early days will be built complete with a cardboard cathedral with balsa wood pews.

Plans are also afoot to turn the Avon River into a great bumper boat playground with safe, lightweight macramé bridges for pedestrian access and viewing. A crazy golf course is also being built on the site of Jade Stadium. Here visitors will be able to play a round where they try to avoid liquefaction traps, get across seismic cracks and manage tricky putts across shaky greens.

A crazy shaking boardwalk made of old copies of the Christchurch Press will be the main feature of a development planned for Lyttelton. Being made out of newspaper of course the boardwalk will be vulnerable to rain and heavy waves and with it stretching out 2kms into the harbour in a horseshoe shape visitors will actually be able experience the fun of the shaking combined with the real risk they could plunge into the harbour and be crushed by stray containers that have migrated down from the wreck of the Rena in Tauranga.

A recreated residential suburb (or is that submerged) will be built in Avonside (renamed Survivalland) where you can experience life without water and sewerage and power. To make your stay more exciting you will be able to cruise around the suburb on farm bikes dodging swinging power lines, sink holes and crumbling masonry.

A weaving railway journey from Christchurch to Rolleston is another treat for visitors to Jellytown. The new tracks will be made out of recycled rubber so they should bend endlessly with the shakes without fear of breaking altogether. A small wooden engine operated by pedal power will pull basket ware carriages along the bumpy, shaking track.

A new town hall will be made out of plasticine and here is where the main entrance to the fun park will be. As you arrive you will be greeted by a cast of characters that have made the former Christchurch what it is today.

Mayor Bob (Nosey) Parker will be re-branded as a Kiwi version of Pinocchio, complete with cheesy smile, bright cheeks and a nose that grows as he tells porkies, so not much need of any make-up there.

The Wizard will return and take up a permanent paid position in this new fantasyland and Gezza Brownlee, the member for Ilam (and I often think of him as a member, too), will be given a knitted wall (made in Kaiapoi of course) to sit on and occasionally fall off.

I can see great potential for this kind of mixed ownership model and I think it could be extended to other parts of the country.

I can already see an opportunity for some kind of Appalachian world in Dannevirke and a mini Frontierland in Opotiki. Auckland would make a great Fantasyland with its huge bullshit factor and Dunners could do a really great Studentland complete with burning couches stolen traffic cones and chundering youths.

Hmm. Maybe this foreign ownership idea ain’t so bad after all.


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