Blade Runner and Gatlinburg

Lord, Lord, you just can’t make this stuff up. On the same day that I learn that the Library of America has issued a volume of four novels by Phillip K. Dick, the Wall Street Journal brings the news that the latest Gatlinburg resort would fit perfectly into Blade Runner.

Seems that a company called Westgate Resorts–anyone remember Westworld?–has come up with the perfect solution for families with little time who want to visit a national park: don’t go to the park at all. Have fun instead in a climate-controlled building. Since March, Westgate has been running Gatlinburg’s Wild Bear Falls, “a giant water-spewing treehouse and a 300-foot tube slide . . . climate-controlled by an air-conditioning unit the size of a semi truck,” according to the Journal.

The building has a retractable roof, the better to “let in more light and fresh air, but still allow the space to be climate-controlled.”

“It feels like you’re outside, but not in the sun,” says Mr. Mark Waltrip, chief operating officer of Westgate.



The Journal article ends with this paragraph: “Dawn Witt, a 37-year-old sales representative for an industrial piping company, (O, the irony) recently stayed with her family at the Kalahari Resort in the Wisconsin Dells. Her son and daughter tubed on the river and raced down the water slides and the family is already considering another trip to an indoor park over the summer. ‘Once you go to Florida and it rains, your vacation is ruined,’ she says.”

The lady has a point. The outdoors, especially the Smokies, can get wet. There are also bugs and critters and no concession stands. She has every right to cloister her offspring in an artificial environment that replicates mountain streams with chlorine-laced water. My question is this: why not build these off-world environmental palaces in some place like Kansas or Detroit?

This blog is part of a much larger website, also entitled Tennessee Guy, that contains travel and cultural information about Tennessee. Visit it here.





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