Rockin’ Rides: AZ gets music theme park proposal, we get some baaad ideas

By Niki D’Andrea

Why is Disneyland in California? Call me an idiot (as some surely already do), but I’d venture to guess it’s because Disney studios were founded in Cali and the entire movie industry (Disney included) thrives in the Golden State. So it makes sense that a huge theme park based on Walt Disney’s cartoon characters would be planted in Anaheim.

With few exceptions, theme parks are prime for big cities, places that people plan to visit on their vacations anyway. So if someone were to say, open up an $800 million, 240-acre park with a purely “rock and roll” theme, logic dictates that some place like Los Angeles, New York City, or even Cleveland (home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame) would be a good spot.

Well, a massive rock and roll theme park is being planned, but not for any of the most logical locales. Nope, this theme park -- which would include several opulent rock-themed rides, a luxury hotel, and 120,000 square feet of places to buy more crap you don’t need -- is slated to hit the beautiful and happening hills of Eloy, Arizona, a town that sits on a stretch of the I-10 between Phoenix and Tucson, surrounded by Indian reservations and miles and miles of open desert.

“Private investors” from Phoenix have told local media that the park would include a “Grand Funk Railroad,” a Hotel California water ride, a “Mount Rushmore of Rock,” a variation of Paris’ Arc de Triomphe monument altered to look like the MTV logo, and a restaurant area called the “Haight-Ashbury District.” The proposed park would be called the Decades Music Theme Park, and it’d be located next to Eloy Municipal Airport, which means visitors could also be treated to an impromptu shower of naked skydivers. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2009, with a grand opening in 2012.

But first, lobbyists have to persuade the state of Arizona to change its laws. The state currently only allows “special theme park taxing districts” in Coconino and Maricopa counties, not Pinal County, which is where Eloy’s located.

I really don’t care about the politics of building the park, but I love the idea. It brings out the black humor in me. If the gist of the Decades Music Theme Park is to celebrate our most iconic rock figures and music events, that’s great, but we gotta be realistic here and include some musical disasters as well. And with 240 acres, there’s plenty of room for rides that highlight the tragedy and ridiculousness of rock and roll, too.

Here are seven attractions I think would be good to include in the Decades Music Theme Park (bearing in mind that bad taste isn’t all that marketable):

The Shooting Gallery:

Alas, smack has cost many a musician his or her life, and this interactive attraction will provide thrills and chills galore as you watch Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Brad Nowell of Sublime, Jonathan Melvoin of Smashing Pumpkins, Kristen Pfaff of Hole; Hillel Slovak of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Sid Vicious, Gary Thain of Uriah Heep, Andrew Wood of Mother Love Bone, Darby Crash of the Germs, G.G. Allin, Gram Parsons, Dee Dee Ramone, Jim Morrison, and Layne Staley of Alice In Chains chase the dragon and ride the Horse into the pantheon of rock ‘n’ roll casualties. While they’re sliding downhill, participants can shoot needles full of heroin at their favorite fatalities of rock, and earn bonus points for stealing Gram Parsons’ body and burning it in the desert. As you progress through the shooting gallery, you can also see some survivors -- like Nikki Sixx and Depeche Mode singer Dave Gahan -- creating music inferior to the discographies from their drug days.

The Building: Elvis has not left it yet! Those who believe the King didn’t die on his bathroom throne in Graceland can venture into this labyrinthine replica of a Midwestern strip mall and try to find Presley, whom they know has been hiding out since “faking” his death in 1977. Follow the trail of pomade and pony beads to see if you can uncover Elvis’ hiding place and sell a story to the Weekly World News. If you’re lucky, you might even find a bona fide Elvis Presley toenail clipping to sell on eBay! But beware: Impersonators abound.

Housewives from Kansas to Kentucky know this plot is empty.

The Soused-Spouse Bouncy Castle: Come one, come all, and climb inside a giant, inflatable bottle of booze to duke it out with your significant others. See how it’s done with a destructive demonstration by Amy Winehouse and her hubby, Blake Fielder-Civil, who will each swallow handfuls of various drugs before throwing down and beating the living shit out of each other in an attempt to “save” each other. Once Winehouse and Fielder-Civil make up over snot rockets and stagger arm-in-arm down the street, you can catch the Ike Turner Duke-Out and the James Brown Smack-Down, or you can just take several shots of Tequila and start slapping your own partner around. Warning: This ride may cause excessive boozing and bouncing, which could induce projectile vomiting. But that’s just rock ‘n’ roll, man.

Winehouse and Fielder-Civil: This is how it's done, son.

The Stairway to Heaven/Highway to Hell Roller Coaster: Speaking of vomit, this roller coaster ride takes two divergent paths -- one that’ll give you a “bustle in your hedgerow,” and another that offers a “season ticket on a one-way ride.” But both paths lead to the same end, which is asphyxiating on your own puke. Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and AC/DC singer Bon Scott both died this way within seven months of each other in 1980. And while gargling bile isn’t all that glamorous, neither is dying on the crapper like Judy Garland and Elvis (allegedly) did.

Help your friends to not choke on their own vomit.

Rick James’ Bitch!: You know you want to be! Riders will be tied up and held hostage in Rick James’ closet for six days, forced to perform sex acts, burned with hot crack pipes, and worst of all, forced to look at all of James’ album covers from the ‘80s while the bass line for “Superfreak” plays over and over. It may sound excruciating, but you know that deep down, you really wanna ride Rick James’ Bitch!

There's more where this came from, on Rick James' Bitch!

Conceptual Hell: This ride fuses together various concept albums to create a hair-raising journey through pop purgatory. We begin on the river Styx, with Dennis DeYoung serenading you with songs from Paradise Theater and Kilroy Was Here. Witness dozens of painted dolls singing “Mr. Roboto” in an irritating loop, to create an even creepier effect than Disneyland’s “It’s a Small World” ride. Next, meet up with Elton John’s Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy for a lounge rendition of “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” and the spectacle of tennis legend Billie Jean King dancing in a rainbow leotard to “Philadelphia Freedom,” a song John dedicated to her. Also see David Bowie’s “Ziggy Stardust” character and Marilyn Manson’s “Omega” character from Mechanical Animals try to find their way out of “Tommy’s Holiday Camp” from The Who’s Tommy, with just the beer lights to guide them. Finally, head for The Wall, where you can watch Roger Waters fire keyboardist Richard Wright and assume full artistic control while ruminating on fantasies of being a fascist dictator. The ride ends with Bob Geldof shaving off his eyebrows and feeding them to starving children in Ethiopia.

Don't worry, Geldof's eyebrows went to a very good cause.

The Plastic Surgery Disaster Wax Museum: Back in the old days, rockers wanted blow jobs. Now they want boob jobs and nose jobs, too. In the Wax Museum, you can check out the visages of dozens of artists who’ve had their faces rearranged, and put them back together in an interactive puzzle. Can you find Michael Jackson’s first nose among Carnie Wilson’s pile of liposuction bags? Can you match Cher’s cheekbones to her most recent rhinoplasty? Can you find Gene Simmons' tongue after his frightful facelift? Can you bring yourself to bury your face in Tara Reid’s botched breast implants? And where is Courtney Love’s real jaw? The highlight of the Museum is the “Kenny Corner,” where the real, recently-plasticized Kenny Rogers stands amidst several wax replicas. Those who manage to find the “real” Kenny among the melting mannequins could win a penile enlargement or a labia lift. For added excitement, Simon Cowell will follow you around, telling you how much you suck while shooting his face full of Botox.

Is it Kenny Rogers? Or is it wax?

I could gone on and on and slide even further downhill (i.e., the Winter Dance Party Plane Ride), but think it best to stop here. If anyone has any additional suggestions, feel free to post ‘em in the comments. Maybe we could find some investors and get our own music theme park erected in some nice little Mormon community like Joseph City, Arizona.

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