A Charles Dickens theme park opens in Kent soon, promising an authentic taste of the novelist’s Victorian world. But is it wrong to “Disney-fy” the nation’s greatest author?The great American amusement park pioneer, George C Tilyou, once said: “What attracts the crowd is the wearied mind’s demand for relief in unconsidered muscular action.”So it’s inevitable that Dickens World conjures a degree of scepticism among those not ready for a theme-park tribute to one of the most popular novelists in the English language.Housed in a modern, aluminium-clad hangar on the Chatham Maritime estate in Kent, its creators promise a flavour of “dark, smoky, moody London, full of smells and mist”.Visitors to the £62m, privately-funded attraction can sample the Great Expectations boat ride, themed around the escape of the convict Magwitch and featuring dyed-brown water.There’s the Haunted House of Ebenezer Scrooge, Quilps Creek, Newgate Prison and the Britannia Music Hall, while children can sit in the Dotheboys Hall Victorian classroom and be shouted at by an angry beak.And if you tire of the world of debtors’ prisons and runaway prisoners, you can always pop next door to the Odeon multiplex.
Dickens world is proud to announce that it will be opening its doors to the public from the 25th May 2007 from 10 a.m.
Apparently, one of the buildings featuring in Dickens World is Warren’s Boot Blacking factory.
Then followed the most bitter experience in the life of Charles Dickens. He was sent to work at a blacking factory in a street near Charing Cross leading from the Strand to the Thames. The work was menial in the extreme and the pay was only a few shillings a week, but exercising strict economy he made his wages support himself.
The Blacking Factory and Dickens’s Imaginative Worldby George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University