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Worlds of Fun rant

Posted by Maureen Sunday, September 07, 2008 Labels: , ,

I had the great pleasure of going to Worlds of Fun with my Burundian friends on Saturday. They of course had never seen anything like it and had a great time--lots of laughing and yelling, although I think I screamed on the roller coasters more than they did!

Unfortunately, I have taken issue on Worlds of Fun with the themes in the Africa section of their park. I decided to write them a letter, which I am posting here. I hope they will truly take it into consideration.

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To Whom It May Concern:

On Saturday, September 7, 2008, I spent the day at Worlds of Fun for the first time in ten years. I am in my mid-twenties and have not been since I was in high school. The primary reason for my attendance was in order to take some friends of mine who are refugees from Burundi, a small country in East Africa. Along with several other American friends, I escorted seven members of this African family to Worlds of Fun to spend a great day of rides and roller coasters with them. Overall, we had a great time.

However, I quickly became extremely offended upon entering the section of the park that is Africa-themed. The entrances and fences are lined with life-size skulls and bloody skeletons. What a horrific image to apply to a beautiful continent. My African friends, having never seen anything like this in the U.S., timidly inquired, “Are those people?” We did our best to explain to them that they were not in fact real people, but were fake. Still, they did not understand why one would event want fake dead people around and nor did I.

The reason my friends are living in the U.S. as refugees is because they have endured horrible atrocities of civil war. They came here through the United Nations as an escape from their war-ridden lives and confinement to refugee camps. While amidst civil war, one can be sure that my friends witnessed death and murder more than anyone should ever be exposed to. I would not be surprised if they have seen skeletal remains of their own country’s people.

Recently I learned about the nation of Rwanda, a country that neighbors Burundi. Today, you can go to Rwanda and view the remains of the genocide that took place there in 1994. As a means to remember and educate others on the unspeakable violence and mass murdering that took place not long ago, there are museums where you can see the coffins and graves containing the remains of those killed during the ethnic cleansing.

Today, there are countries scattered throughout Africa who suffer from mass violence, most notably in the Darfur region of Sudan. What’s more, regarding the “décor” of Worlds of Fun, is that Kansas City is highly populated with refugees from Africa and Asia—most of which have come here to escape these very scenes. Even the number of East African refugees alone is in the thousands. Yet, any of them who have surely attended your park find themselves surrounded my memories of death and violence instead of the beauties of their home countries.

My Burundian friends have only lived in the U.S. for one year and so only recently have ceased to suffer through violence and images that no adult and especially no child should see in their lifetime. Yet the fact that they were brought face to face with bloody skeletons on one of their first big days of Kansas City fun is simply unacceptable. And I am certain that my friends are not the first who have walked through the paths of Worlds of Fun and been confused, offended, or even frightened by the sights they found there.

Finally, even if I had been at Worlds of Fun without my refugee friends, I still would have taken offense. Africa is a beautiful place filled with life, culture, and incredible creatures that are found nowhere else on earth. I am shamed to see that such a popular attraction in my own city has chosen not to represent the beauty of another culture, but rather the suffering and violence that is found there.

I implore you to reconsider the theme that you have laid out in the African section of your amusement park.

Thank you for your time.

7 comments:

Andy said...

Wow, that pisses me off. More reason for me to not go there (my fear of roller coasters remains #1). That said, what address are you sending it to? Have you found any email addresses too?

I'd love to write a similar letter...the more voices the better eh? Let me know where to send it.

Thanks for bringing this to our attention!

Amber said...

amen and amen.

Maureen said...

the only address I could find is:
4545 Worlds of Fun Avenue
Kansas City, MO 64161

So I'm just going to direct it to customer service and use that address. Also I believe this is the email address: wof@worldsoffun.com

I'll prob do both.

Thanks for the support!

louann said...

and if you don't hear back, you should consider writing to the KC Star. Good job!

NJ said...

Go Maux! Start a petition - I'm in!

sara said...

nice. thanks for speaking out about it.

Jesse said...

I agree with Louann - I bet the KC Star would love to publish something like that in their letters to the editor section.