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Friday, September 25, 2009

Move Over Mickey: Switzerland's Erich von Däniken Land Has Reopened

Remember Erich von Däniken? If you grew up in the 1970s, you couldn't escape him. His book,
Chariots Of The Gods? was a huge hit, alleging alien visitors not only walked the Earth over the millennia, but also left a fossil and artistic record of their presence.

What I have somehow managed to miss over the last few years was the construction of an entire amusement park, based on von Däniken's ideas. According to its website,
Mystery Park, located in Interlaken, Switzerland "present(ed) the unexplained, yet real phenomena found in various historical and archeological sites around the globe."

When I say I missed it, it's partially because I never got as far as Switzerland. And partially because it opened in 2003 and closed three years later.

Major pavilions included:

  • Vimanas, which depicted ancient flying machines that supposedly appear in ancient artwork from India, and ancient orbiting space cities. Anciently.
  • Maya, which would have been the E-ticket ride to be on when the world comes to an end in 2012.
  • Contact, a pavilion that presented the odd "cargo cults" of New Guinea that arose after World War II—isolated tribes of people who saw allied soldiers as aliens who came in bizarre flying machines, and imitated (and perhaps venerated them as gods) after they left.
  • Orient, which explored the great pyramid at Giza.
  • Megastones, like Stonehenge and other lesser known sites.
  • Nazca covered the famed lines in Peru.
  • And much more.

After its opening, Mystery Park was called a "cultural Chernobyl" by Antoine Wasserfallen, a member of the Swiss Academy of Science and Technology. Apparently the public agreed. Its original incarnation was a financial catastrophe.

Apparently the property was purchased this year by a new promoter, and it reopened in May 2009. The season ends in November.

Bear in mind, von Däniken once said,
“I am not a scientific man, and if I had written a scientific book, it would have been calm and sober and nobody would talk about it.”