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'Napoleonland': France's elaborate new amusement park?

A former French minister is planning a historical theme park dedicated to Napoleon, complete with battle re-enactments and guillotines

History buffs, rejoice: If ambitious French politico Yves Jégo gets his way, France will soon have a theme park dedicated to one of the country's most controversial leaders, Napoleon Bonaparte. The proposed park, "Napoleonland," would cost roughly $280 million and feature re-enactments of some of Napoleon's greatest battles, among other attractions like museums, eateries, and gift shops. Here's what you need to know about the park Jégo hopes will "rival Disneyland":

Why Napoleonland?
Napoleon is the second best-known Frenchman (after Charles de Gaulle), yet there is no national museum dedicated to him. Constructing a theme park in honor of the French icon is about "reclaiming our roots and our history," Jégo told The Times of London. Jégo hopes his park will "combine historical truth with pure entertainment" by offering up a wide variety of attractions on the site of Napoleon's last triumph — Montereau-Fault-Yonne, just south of Paris.

What kinds of attractions will there be?
The park will focus mostly on its "ampitheatrically-staged re-enactments," says Priscilla Pollara at Britain's Daily Mail. Kids will be able to dress up like the former emperor and witness his coronation. But the park won't "only be about touting Napoleon's successes," says Sanya Khetani at Business Insider. There will be daily stagings of Napoleon's infamous 1815 defeat at Waterloo, as well as an extravagant water show depicting the British Royal Navy's decisive victory over Napoleon in the Battle of Trafalgar. For those with strong stomachs, Napoleonland will also re-create the death, by guillotine, of Louis XVI during the revolution. But "the greatest attraction will be the ski run," says Khateni, which will allow visitors to ski through a battlefield strewn with "frozen bodies of soldiers and horses." 

So will this park actually get built?
Well, maybe. Jégo is currently seeking private investors to help pony up the roughly $280 million needed to begin building the park in 2014. If all goes as planned, Napoleonland could open its doors in 2017, creating 3,000 jobs and bolstering French tourism in the process. After all, Napoleonland just might succeed if it follows in the footsteps of the "endlessly popular" Disneyland Paris, Pollara says. "The French couldn't be more aware that spoon-fed entertainment is a winning formula." And even though everyone is cutting down on luxuries during these tough economic times, "there is still an argument for the creation of a park like Napoleonland."

Sources: Business Insider, Daily Mail, Telegraph, TIME, Times of London

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