What rides should they have at Napoleonland?

French history buffs are planning their own theme park to compete with Disneyland, and honour France’s best known soldier.  Napoleonland will bring history to life, in ways that could even make fans of “Abraham Lincoln Vampire Killer” blush with embarrassment.

Et alors, can pure amusement be educational?  It worked for King Arthur’s Labyrinth in Wales, and that’s History.  Or, it’s a story.

So why not have Napoleonland!

If they do it though, better do it right.  Here’s some rides we’d like to see at Napoleonland:

1) Escape from St. Helena. This is the ultimate water labyrinth, an “impossible” feat for the real tough-guy teenager to tackle. Part role playing game (RPG), part water park, the “victim” (who plays the part of Napoleon) needs to put a dummy in his or her place, dodge the guards, and navigate a small canoe through a maze to the better rides before time runs out and the park closes.

Better yet, don’t put a time limit on it. If you got a troublesome teenager, you can drop them off by ski lift in the middle of this “ride”, and have them airlifted out by helicopter when it’s time to go home.

2) Escape from Elba.  This will be a little kid’s version of the bigger “St Helena” labyrinth, and will involved smaller canoes. It will be easier to navigate, so that kids could theoretically escape.  But the end of the gates will lead to the hundred days exhibit, so some kids might prefer to play in the canoes all day.

3) The hundred days. Here’s a ride that’ll paint the town red (or blue). A high paced roller coaster that shoots through the sounds of gun shots, high pitched screams of delight, and the hurried ramblings of a tour guide trying to point out the historical significance of the murals on the walls in the tunnels that ride zips goes through at 300 kph.

4) The Dancehall. We know that the Bonapartes loved to party ( – well, anyone who has visited New Orleans and listened to a tour guide has).  Rather than basing this strictly on history, it could be a masquerade with a horror twist, based on the Bronte short story called “Napoleon and the Spectre. ”

The guest goes around in pyjamas, while the Empress of Austria and other distinguished guests are wearing masks, from death masks to party masks.  For those who like dancing, or playing music, experts are on hand to help improve the imperial skills.  For those who don’t, hauntings await…

5) 1812. Here’s a great section of the park for those who aren’t necessarily fans of the famous Corsican.  For a few roubles, you can throw a snowball at french soldiers, and if you knock one down, win a small bottle of cognac.

You’ll be led through a tour by a beautiful Polish princess, who’ll entice guests to invade the coldest regions of the park, (even when it may not be in their best interest.)

But the main attraction will be for the bonfire loving Brits.  That’s right, participants can burnt down a cardboard version of Moscow.  The staff will get the fire going, and parts of old wooden rides will be given to guests who can pay for the honour of tossing them in the flames.

6) Battle of the Pyramids.  Next to this, “the Siege of Malta” will look like a dinky ride for babies. Join the Army of Egypt for a trip down the Nile, where the historically minded can read a Napoleonic version of history in hieroglyphic tapestries, while the thrill minded will feel the high speed dips and turns.

Of course, there is an opportunity here to branch out into the history of ancient Egypt. The other rides could also carry geographical detours, but Napoleon’s expedition here was especially interested in bringing back civilisation to the its cradle. Many say his journey here started a new phase in Egyptology, or the archaeology that discovered the tombs of Ramses and King Tut, and led to Egypt-mania throughout the world.

It’s only fitting then, that Napoleonland could help spread the love of history for that part of the world (and the time when Egypt was the world.)

At the end of the bumper boats, you’ll get to the main attraction. No, this isn’t a high octane battle for dorky video-game addicted teenagers. It’s a pony ride, with the guest dressed as a Mameluke. The guest gets to see the way Napoleon’s troops fought, by heading straight into battle against them.

And, when the game’s over and done with, the hungry participants can sample some of Egypt’s finest watermelon.

7. Waterloo. The real Waterloo bored me to tears as a child, as I’m not one of the people who like to say “wow, this mound of dirt used to be something.” As a final thrill before leaving the park, therefore, I thought there should be something special, something you’d never seen before.

No, not a battle with hundreds of thousands of soldiers, but a thrill that will capture the imagination like no other. A roller coaster that jumps off the tracks for two hundred feet, before plunging down into a dark abyss.

Once down there, the riders will hear commands shouted at them, in German, French and English, and they’ll have to learn them quickly. Paintball guns will point at the passengers, with short warnings to duck, turn left, sit up, and move round as quickly as possible in order to avoid a pratfall.

Sacre bleu!  On s’amuse bien chez Napoleonland!


  1. Napoleonland Ride: Cavalry Charge at Eylau; riders sit on mechanical horses and feel like they’re a few ranks behind front rank of 2nd largest cavalry charge in history.

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