Adam Bird


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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Patience is Paramount

Universal Islands of Adventure - coming to town

Humunga Kowabunga, Bubba Gumps Shrimp Shack, Manta, Rip Ride Rocket, all names and sounds synonymous with the heat and surreality of Florida, a playground for the young and the young at heart which has drawn families in for decades bringing dreams to life. Names which could soon be coming to North Kent and rejuvenating an industrial backwater famed for the manufacturing of cement and refinement of industrialised metals.

I arrived into work yesterday morning under a barrage of text messages from a very excited younger sibling. My sister had read an article on one of the local news websites detailing plans of a new multi-billion pound development which would see a world class theme park and entertainment resort built quite literally on our doorstep.

Apparently land local to us on the Swanscome peninsula has been earmarked as a possible location for this venture and Paramount, a Hollywood movie studio has agreed licensing rights which means we could potentially be seeing a collection of Hollywood related attractions as the focal point of any development.

It is of course incredibly early days, consultation and planning hasn't yet formally started, but what exciting prospects lie in store! The benefits to the local area are huge, construction jobs, opportunities for service providers, hotel spaces, eateries and probably from an entirely selfish point of view, first rate leisure and entertainment venues within ridiculously easy reach. As a family, as I guess most families do, we love stuff like this. We were lucky as kids to visit Florida and see world class Theme Parks for ourselves, so to have something potentially so close has brought out the manchild in me and made my sister go even more barmy!

It might all be pie in the sky, plans that never reach fruition and the land which has a long heritage of local industry gets left by the wayside and falls into terminal decline. But with details so thin and scarce at the moment I thought I'd do a little creative thinking and put some ideas out there as to what the eventual final project might consist of.

The name:

If you think of a Theme Park you might think of Alton Towers or Chessington World of Adventures, places named after what was already there and built up over time. With that line of thinking it would be logical then that the names Swanscombe, Ebbsfleet or Northfleet would feature somewhere in the name. Neither Swanscombe World of Adventures, Ebbsfleet Island of Adventures and Northfleet Towers sound particularly appealing, certainly not on a European or global level - enticing overseas tourism being all part of the 'big idea'.

Also aligned with plans, what we are seeing being proposed isn't just one park, it's a collection - a whole resort, namely; a water park, a theme park, a boardwalk style collection of shops, cinemas and restaurants, plus event and concert space.

With that in mind it would more likely have a collective name, no doubt with the brand name featuring prominently. Also, as it's going to be a global attraction Ebbsfleet simply won't fit, even us locals don't know where Ebbsfleet is (it's a train station right?) How about then Paramount Peninsula of Pleasure, or Paramount World, with each area having its own identity, similar to Disney World and its collection of individual park areas, Epcot, Magic Kingdom and such like? Paramount World is perhaps too ambiguous, Paramount Kent is hardly appealing, whereas we are close enough to the capital to get away with Paramount London, even if it does upset a few of the locals.

The theme:

In the original news article it stated that an emphasis will be made upon British and Kent character. What this means exactly is entirely open to interpretation and could be almost anything at all. The buildings could be built in the shape of oast houses with thatched cottages or a dark ride based on the former cement works could be built - Colonel Colin's Concrete Catastrophy doesn't quite have the same ring or appeal as Professor Burps Bubble Works, so it would be interesting to see what exactly this entails!

Keeping things entirely Paramount orientated would be the better idea, although this does come with its own challenges. Paramount owned a succession of US based parks and invested heavily in rides across their properties tying in with poplar film franchises, but once Paramount were brought out the rides lost the licensing and all film references were removed making for some disjointed and disappointing experiences.

However, looking through the list of films on the Paramount portfolio, there are some really interesting opportunities; Iron Man, Mission Impossible, Shrek, Kung Fu Panda, Titanic, Grease, Indiana Jones and Forest Gump are all films where potential attractions could be devised from. Not really sure however how any of those could tie into British and Kent character, but then again I'm not an imagineer!

A mix and match will possibly be most likely, movie themed rides around locally themed lands. Such as a land which celebrates the pre-historic origins of Swanscombe and the finding of the 'Swanscombe Man' fossil. I'm sure that there is plenty of fun to be had around that, much more so than the manufacturing of cement!

The reality:

However much fun thinking about what the potential possibilities could be its well worth remembering that absolutely nothing has happened so far. The idea so far is great, but that's why we spend hard earned money to fulfill our dreams - because someone once dreamt the impossible and made it happen. For the artist impressions to come to life billions of pounds will need to be spent, infrastructure constructed, roads and public transport networks upgraded and no doubts miles and miles of red tape to be scrutinised and overcome.

Patience really is paramount over the next few months, as further snippets of information and further imagery is released. In the meantime I might have to dig that old Theme Park computer game and come up with something a little more inspired, Colonol Colin's Concrete Catastrophy will simply not do!

Thursday, 4 October 2012

National Poetry Day - Stars

Notepad and Pen

Today apparently is National Poetry Day. Oliver's homework this week was to find his favourite poem in mark of the occasion. He is nearly six, poetry isn’t quite clearly defined yet in his vocabulary, but I thought that well, if it was good enough for him it was certainly good enough for me. So to mark the occasion, I’ve had a go and written a poem.

Firstly, poetry is hard! If the word ‘poem’ is unknown to a six year old vocabulary then the terms; Villanelle, Triolet, Amphimacer Meter; Iambic Pentameter and so many others are strangely foreign to me. But that’s what days like today are for. To get people learning, understanding and appreciating an art form which is difficult to master but beautiful to read and listen to.

Today’s theme then is ‘Stars’ and my poem on the subject was based upon the thought that when we die, heaven gains another star. I should also tell you, that I had some guidance, took some advice and was advised by a true professional. I work with a proper poet, a chap named Rishi Dastidar who is known as the ‘poet of adland’ and has had much of his work published. A big thank you then Sir for your advice and encouragement!

I hope you enjoy it and even more so, I hope you also write something poetic about stars or anything else for that matter.


Treasure chest memories etched into the night,
Constellations are collections of consolation,
Peeking upwards, silvery threads of light,

An infinite sky measured by immortal height,
Monochrome pencils, paint faces with perception.
Treasure chest memories etched into the night,

Lost pilgrim friends and fathers, discernibly bright.
Canis Major barks loudly, the canine conception,
Peeking upwards, silvery threads of light.

Ursa Major, Great Bear, a loyal fierce knight,
Requiem for the romantic, a sentimental recollection,
Treasure chest memories etched into the night,

Adverts for heaven, visions of God’s might.
Dystopian deity, dismissive dissections,
Peeking upwards, silvery threads of light.

Bereaved witnesses, married in grief, unite,
Impressions imprinted, measured imperfections.
Treasure chest memories etched into the night.
Peeking upwards, silvery threads of light.
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