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"Who will buy my sweet red roses?"

Shannon Hale’s new adult novel, Austenland, imagines a kind of vacation resort for Jane Austen devotees. I know kellyrfineman loved the book, and if such a place existed, she would already have her trip scheduled. Well, guess what new vacation spot actually exists in England?!

Dickens World!

Can you imagine?!

Rides! Animatronics! A Dickensian Shopping Mall! Even ‘burlesque evening dinner shows!’

It sounds like a spoof, but I heard about it on “Marketplace” yesterday. And after investing $120 million dollars in it, I’m sure the investors of Dickens World hope it will become the next Disneyland for, er, fans of Victorian literature visiting southeastern England.

It just so happens that I am ONE OF THOSE FANS!

Sadly, the day after we leave London, we are scheduled to visit Legoland. (That’s what you do when you visit Britain with a 9yo: fewer museums and throw in a theme park.) But if I had MY way, we would forego Legoland and motor to Chatham for a day of Dickensian delights. (Although I must say I would be leery of experiencing the ‘sights, sounds, and smells’ of Victorian London.) Ah, I can picture it now … strolling down the slops-strewn avenues … avoiding pickpockets … smiling at saucy serving girls … looking for the Old Curiosity Shop …

Kelly, maybe Austenland will become a reality someday … just down the road from Dickens World. Then you and I will plan our trip together!


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May. 25th, 2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
Heh. I used to work for a company that creates theme parks. We talked to someone a few years ago about doing one around the theme of Shakespeare's Globe Theater. I'm not surprised they're doing one around Dickens, although... hm. What are the attractions going to be, really? An immersive workhouse experience complete with heavy labor, constant hunger and little children dying of tuberculosis? Or perhaps a roller coaster through London's back allies, chasing that bloodied villain, Bill Sykes. Pickpocket street entertainers! A mystery dinner theater wherein everybody ends up being coincidentally related!

Oh, man, I could go on and on...

But I'm sure it will be the Oliver! version of Dickens, wherein small children love their lives of vagary so much that they sing and dance for the old man who forces them to steal in exchange for food and shelter.
May. 25th, 2007 07:18 pm (UTC)
The only trouble is, Austenland would HAVE to include Mr Darcy - and I mean Colin Firth as Mr Darcy... Oh sigh. Then I'd go there to live.
Don't tell my husband I said that ;o)
May. 25th, 2007 07:48 pm (UTC)
When you eat dinner there, a street urchin crawls over to your table and starts tugging at your leg & says, "please sir, may I have some more?" And doesn't go away until you give him some porridge, or stab him.

It is truly awesome.
May. 26th, 2007 01:00 am (UTC)
May. 25th, 2007 08:30 pm (UTC)
I have to say I think Legoland will be fun, too. Don't you think? Or are there too many memories of stepping on them barefoot in the dark?!
May. 26th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
Legoland IS fun! We've been to the one in San Diego ... about three years ago, I think. But Dickens World is not something we can visit here!
May. 25th, 2007 11:38 pm (UTC)
I've been looking forward to Austenland! And London, what fun!
May. 26th, 2007 12:59 am (UTC)
I think you should buy a wonderful morning at Dickens World instead . . . because seriously? Legolands are all pretty much of a piece. But there is only one Dickens World.

And as for Austenland -- if there were such a place (as described in the book), it would pretty much constitute cheating on my hubby, so I'm out. Although that's not to say that there aren't times when three weeks away from everything would be a most welcome development.
May. 26th, 2007 09:18 pm (UTC)
Ah, if only.

But I can't think of any good way to tell my son, "Nope ... we're going to skip the rollercoasters and geek out on a literary theme park!"

May. 26th, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
Yeah, but if you did it, just think how authentic his Dickensian experience would seem (for him).
May. 27th, 2007 04:19 pm (UTC)
This is too cool (yes, I know I'm a dork!) I would run off with Mr. Darcy.
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