September 9, 2013 – In the midst of obsessive theme park fan sites, blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook fan pages lies the folks over at @FakeThemePark.
If you’ve never stumbled upon their Facebook or Twitter account before, @FakeThemePark provides a witty, comedic and sarcastic look at the theme park industry, parodying many of the elements that you might be familiar with as a theme park fan or employee. What’s more, most of their commentary is given on Twitter within the limit of only 140 characters or less – an impressive feat that joins together brevity and sharp wit. For those that follow them on Facebook, the group also publishes long-form posts that outlines their fictitious theme park as an interesting blend of Disneyland and Universal Studios Hollywood.
We sat down with the CEO of @FakeThemePark to get his take on theme park operations and the striking similarities between his park and that of Universal Studios Hollywood.
So before we get started, we asked Freddy Benson – VP of Communications – to provide a brief biography of the man behind their fictitious park, Murph Ganlty.
Oh, and just so we’re clear: this interview has no relation with NBCUniversal or the Walt Disney Company. And yes, @FakeThemePark is absolutely a parody account.
Freddy Bension, VP of Communications: Our park got its start in 1912 when visionary Murph Gantly brought his movie studio west and opened his famous park on a 415-acre prison compound.
On March 14, 1915, Mr. Gantly invited the public to visit the backlot, and the Studio Tour was born. Mr. Gantly believed that movies should make people laugh, cry, get angry, or vote for a specific individual even if that individual isn’t qualified to hold office and, for the last century, the park has been doing just that. It’s a happy ending straight out of what Mr. Gantly calls “happies,” movies with happy endings, which he stopped making in 1967.
Inside Universal: First off, thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Mr. Gantly. Before we get started, do you mind giving us a brief introduction about who you are and what you do?
Murph Gantly: I own and operate the world’s largest movie studio of magic and rides and whales in the world. When we first opened, I used to joke that I was the owner, proprietor, and janitor! Of course, that was the old days. Today we don’t even have a janitor.
Since we mainly focus on Universal, we couldn’t help but notice some striking similarities between your park and Universal Studios Hollywood. For instance, Godzilla 3-D Experience and Killer Shark appear to bare some resemblance to King Kong 360 – 3D and Jaws on the Studio Tour. Is this just a coincidence?
Murph Gantly: First of all, it’s Shark Attack; we no longer guarantee that guests will be killed. Secondly, why don’t you ask about the amazing “coincidence” that my old friend Carl opened his studio tour just a day after mine? Except he actually allowed in women?
Not to get too sidetracked, but we’re huge fans of your park’s latest addition, The Witchy World of Mary Motter. Do you think Hollywood’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter could possibly compete?
Murph Gantly: Absolutely not. Since we opened TWWOMM (pronounced “Too-whu-whoa-mum”), we’ve measured a .03% drop in Universal’s attendance. I credit either our competitive advantage or that we’re not very good at measuring things.
Moving a bit closer to home, what do you think of fan sites and fans in general?
Murph Gantly: So-called “fans” sure seem to complain a lot. I remembered when we changed the trim accent paint on Chaos Coaster and there were three days of riots. However, I promise that, as long as fans keep posting comments online, I’ll keep reading them — on my prototype iPad 9 while getting a foot massage from a Playboy playmate in my private villa on Spain’s Costa del Sol.
Speaking of fans, there always seems to be backlash whenever something is removed. How do you deal with the reaction?
Murph Gantly: I don’t. I leave that to the poor fools who run our Twitter account. And also on Facebook, but those responses are just random words from a Speak & Spell.
What about rumors? Do you embrace them?
Murph Gantly: Sure! And I absolutely don’t pay a leggy blonde to sit at Carl’s Jr. around the corner and say “Guess what I heard” into her non-functioning phone every Tuesday.
How does your theme park compete in such a cut-throat market? Seeing how Disney and Universal are both backed by large, multinational conglomerates with deep pockets, how do you deliver groundbreaking and innovative experiences while still remaining profitable?
Murph Gantly: I keep the corporation solvent by selling the ground beneath the park for high-risk fracking, and overcharging guests.
Are your employees happy?
Murph Gantly: Every year, our Cast Members fill out an anonymous survey that asks direct, candid questions like “How much do you love your immediate supervisor, in terms of number of hugs?” and “In 20 years, which ride’s spiel will echo word for word throughout your nightmares to the point of a nervous breakdown?” Those results are collected, analyzed, segmented by department, and destroyed.
While you’re with us, do you have anything major to announce? Any new attractions, shops, or restrooms on the horizon? Concluding thoughts?
Murph Gantly: The park has never had official restrooms; we just hang a sign wherever guests seem to be going. However, I can announce, right here on [enter the name of your site; I can’t remember], that we’ll be opening a simulator ride, Onion Mayhem. It will feature all the lovable, indistinguishable, unintelligible little yellow onions that kids love. Look for it in 2014 or 2021.
Thank you again, Mr. Gantly. Hopefully we didn’t take up too much of your time.
Murph Gantly: In the time it took you to type that sentence, I made 480 million dollars.
Jon Fu is the editor-in-chief of Inside Universal.
Jon originally founded InsideUniversal.net in 2006 as a summer hobby aimed at providing families and fans a resource for all things “Universal Studios Hollywood.” Since then, the website has taken him throughout the United States and around the world – including to places like Universal Orlando Resort, Universal Studios Japan and Universal Studios Singapore.
Jon currently resides in Santa Cruz, California with his bamboo plant. You may reach him at email@example.com.