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Ethnic theme parks are theme parks based on demonstrating the traditions and cultures of a multitude of ethnic groups. In China, Windows Around the World and Happy Valley Beijing are two examples of these parks which, due to their unique potpourris of heritages, attract tourists worldwide. The ethnic theme parks are advertised as a way to glimpse into different areas around the world in one easy visit.
The layout allocates a separate “village” to each ethnic group, allowing tourists and other visitors to absorb the individuality they portray. Heritage and history are simulated through elaborate costumes and roles. Visitors also have an opportunity to participate in some of the cultural practices of various ethnic groups and to engage in a question and answer based discussion.
The precise infrastructure of each park is different, but each aims to provide a display case for as many cultural identities as possible. At Windows Around the World, for example, national heritage is classified into three categories: primitive song and dance, professional modifications, and further creative modifications.
A debate over authenticity has been sparked in light of the fact that several employees represent nationalities separate from their own individual heritages. The Wa people, for instance, play the roles of African ethnic groups, while Native Americans are portrayed by ethnic Mongolians.
Disputes also linger over the degree to which governments and corporations seek to mask and embellish what they wish within the walls of the park. According to Thomas Mullaney, a Stanford University historian, these parks are highly politicized venues which seek to shape the popular view of China as a multiethnic state.
- "Wired Humanities Projects, University of Oregon". Chinese Theme Parks.
- Gordon, Tamara, and Bruce Caron. Global Villages: The Globalization of Ethnic Display. New York: Tourist Gaze Productions, 2005.
- Wong, Edward (February 23, 2010). "China's Han Flock to Theme Parks Featuring Minorities". The New York Times.