Opening in July 2015, Evermore claims to be the world’s first “adventure park.” Located in Pleasant Grove, Utah, this new style of theme park will be less about rides and more about experiences. The year-round 45-acre park will take guests back to a Victorian-era complete with a town square, elaborate gardens and a three-acre lake.
A lot of the driving force being the park will be its seasonal offerings, including “Ripper’s Cove” for the Halloween event, “An Evermore Christmas” during the holidays and “Carnival of Wonders” to round out the spring/summer season. According to the information released so far, everyone who works at the park will be a trained actor and will dress in appropriate Victorian period costumes. This will not be a theme park that focuses on rides, but rather interactions with the characters you meet along the way. That said, they have promised that there will be a few attractions scattered around the complex.
“The Factory” section of the park will contain a 3D attraction as well as a mirror maze. “The Cove” will feature a boat ride, sunken ruins and a ghost ship. Another land, “The Forest,” will feature an enchanted forest, an old church, catacombs and a Victorian graveyard.
I would love to give more details, but as of yet, Evermore is remaining tightlipped about exactly what guests will experience in these unique lands. Personally, it sounds like Evermore will be somewhat of a permanent Renaissance Fair with a Victorian setting. However, what I find most intriguing is the team putting this project together.
Evermore is the brain child of Ken Bretschneider, an entrepreneur who made his money in the technology field, creating video games and digital certificates for web companies like Facebook and Wikipedia. Ken also started a real estate development company in Salt Lake City with two projects on the burner: The Air Center, a nighttime entertainment complex and Evermore, where he takes on the role as CEO.
Curtis Hackman is serving as Chief Creative Officer and is a magician who has helped create illusions for Criss Angel and David Copperfield. He is also credited with doing digital effects on music videos for artists like B.B. King and Five for Fighting. Personally, I will visit Evermore just to see what kind of illusions this guy comes up with to use in a practical theme park setting.
Based on everything I have read, this project has one hell of an uphill battle to climb in order to be successful or even open at all. Pleasant Grove lies about 30 minutes outside of Salt Lake City via I-15. An investment of $100 million may not be enough to cover all the connecting roads, utilities and more in order to build up the virgin land. Problems will only get worse as a year-round park in an area where the average high in the winter months will only reach the 40’s at best. In addition, this park is not branded and contains no intellectual properties. In order to attract year-round crowds from outside Utah, they are in for a enormous challenge with no familiar characters or movies to lend their name to.
Another red flag is the site claims the first phase will be open in July of 2015, yet construction hasn’t even begun and won’t until August 2014. To say that Mr. Bretshneider is optimistic in opening a 45-acre park within less than a year’s time taking into account Utah’s rough winter season, which can easily halt construction for days or weeks at a time, is an understatement.
Ken has hired a laundry list of people that will cover everything from casting directors down to make up. However, according to their website, out of the 14 people who have been hired to kick start this project, not one has theme park experience listed on their credits. Granted, this will not be a traditional park with roller coasters and a lot of rides, however, they will be in for a rude awakening if they don’t hire someone with knowledge in operations and marketing – two key ingredients that seem to be missing from the equation thus far. The cart seems to be miles ahead of the horse.
Editor’s Note: After speaking with Ken after this article was written, he does have operations experts on his team Jump to this article to get more info!
Regardless of my skepticism, assuming they pull this off, I will be making a trip out to Pleasant Grove, Utah when/if Evermore opens. I have been waiting for a theme park to create a true immersive adventure like Sleep No More, Then She Fell or The Speakeasy for quite some time and this may just be the first to crack that shell. Best of luck.