AutoWorld (theme park)

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For the museum in Brussels, see AutoWorld (museum).
Auto World logo

AutoWorld was an indoor theme park in Flint, Michigan, USA, built to make the town attractive to tourists. The theme park first opened as Six Flags AutoWorld on July 4, 1984 and closed for the first time just six months later.[1]

After failed attempts at revival in the summer of 1985 and other attempts at making the complex viable (once even being opened as an indoor golf course), it went bankrupt.[citation needed] The $80-million theme park finally closed its doors January 1985, later reopening for holidays and other special occasions before finally being demolished in 1997[1] at which point the land was sold to the University of Michigan-Flint.[citation needed] The land is currently home to the William S. White building at the University of Michigan-Flint[2]

AutoWorld's first area was located inside a big dome, the insides of which were designed to look like long-ago Flint. The first display that one encountered was a small cabin, inside of which was a mannequin. When one pressed a red button on the outside of the cabin, a film was projected onto the mannequin's face. The mannequin was supposed to be Jacob Smith, founder of Flint. The mannequin/film would welcome the visitor to AutoWorld and talk about the beginning of Flint. In the center of the dome was a Ferris wheel, and nearby were a carousel and other attractions. One attraction, a film entitled 'The Car of Your Dreams,'[3] produced by award winning experience designer Bob Rogers (designer) and the design team BRC Imagination Arts, celebrated three decades of automobile mobile industry advertisements, from the early days of television advertising and into the 1980s. The short film, which continues to be in distribution[4] for educational purposes, exemplifies how the automotive industry has long been the master at creating and manipulating images of desirable lifestyles, in order to sell a product.

On the grand opening of AutoWorld, then-Governor James J. Blanchard predicted it would trigger "the rebirth of the great city of Flint." [2]

Outside the dome was an area with a giant car engine, a wall with a rotating display of old brand shields, and an attraction depicting the past, present, and future of automobile assembly. The Industrial Mutual Association Auditorium section had rides that featured robotic puppets, an IMAX theater, and a two-story ramp that exhibited a history of the effect of automobiles in popular culture.

AutoWorld was featured in the 1989 Michael Moore film Roger & Me. Footage of AutoWorld being demolished was shown in the 1997 film The Big One, also by Moore. The site is now home to the University of Michigan-Flint's William S. White Building, which houses the nursing program and School of Management.

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