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Possible New Venice Theme Park Raises Eyebrows

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An Italian developer last week unveiled a plan to create a 10-acre amusement park in the heart of Venice, complete with gigantic Ferris wheel, roller coaster, bobbing boat rides, a log flume, a swinging galleon, and what look suspiciously like Polynesian thatched huts selling trinkets. The proposal is by no means assured, and must still be approved by local authorities. But nonetheless it answers the age-old question: No, nothing is sacred anymore.

The developer, Antonio Zamperla, has chosen as its site the ill-used San Biagio Island, a man-made spit of landfill that has long been exploited as a garbage dump. The builder said it will first clear the land and remediate the ecological damage before constructing the park. Among the attractions: re-enactments of the naval Battle of Lepanto, between the Turks and Venetians, in an artificial pond; Carnival-themed performances on an outdoor stage; interactive exhibits of the lagoon ecosystem; augmented-reality installations based on the city’s history; and a spinning, stand-up, half-pipe ride called a Disk’O, which is best enjoyed before you eat lunch.

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Homely and noxious San Biagio Island, which sits on the western tip of Giudecca Island between the Giudecca Canal and the open lagoon, might seem an odd place for a project like this. But Zamperla has a history of building amusement parks in reclaimed areas, including a former nuclear power plant in Kalkar, Germany, and the once-derelict Luna Park in New York City’s Coney Island.

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At this point the proposal has not gone beyond the design stage. Among the chief concerns voiced by opponents is that the attraction would increase Venetian tourism far beyond the city’s ability to cope, not to mention really long lines for the Disk’O.

Mark OrwollMark Orwoll is the International Editor at Travel + Leisure. Follow him on Twitter at @orwoll and "like" him on Facebook.

Photos courtesy of Zamperla

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