Jungfrau Park

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The 'Panorama Kugel of the "Jungfrau Park"

Jungfrau Park is an amusement park located near Interlaken, Switzerland. It opened as the Mystery Park in 2003, and closed in November 2006 due to financial difficulties and low turnout. The park was designed by Erich von Däniken, and consisted of seven pavilions, each of which explored one of several great "mysteries" of the world. Von Däniken opened the theme park to present his interpretations of unsolved mysteries involving extraterrestrial life that he believes took place around the world.[1] Since 2009 it has regularly re-opened for the summer seasons as the Jungfrau Park.[2]

Erich von Däniken[edit]

Erich von Däniken is a controversial Swiss author who wrote books and made documentaries on the influence of extraterrestrials in Earth's ancient past. Von Däniken has written twenty-six books on his extraterrestrial theory and has sold sixty-three millions copies worldwide.[3] He is a major proponent of the idea of "ancient astronauts". This theory states that aliens are responsible for most of the ancient civilizations on Earth. Von Däniken explains that myths, arts,and social organizations of ancient cultures were introduced by aliens from another world.[4] He believes that prehistoric humans learned their arts and technologies directly from complex aliens coming to earth from outer space. A very controversial topic that von Däniken has been questioned about is his idea that ancient humans did not have the memory, culture, and ability to be as civilized as the ancient civilizations in fact were. He believed that in order to come up with the technology and culture that took place in the ancient past, it must be directly attributed to more intelligent alien life-forms coming to earth. His theory explains that because ancient people did not have the capability to be such complex beings, civilizations learned their ways from extraterrestrials.[5] Erich von Däniken founded the theme park "Mystery Park" in November 2005 with the same extraterrestrial themes he had published in his novels.

The Pavilions[edit]

The Panorama Kugel was the central pavilion, topped by a 41-meter high sphere, from which the park's grounds could be seen. The "Kugel" contained exhibits of von Däniken's works.

Erich von Däniken used the different pavilions to show the works that he believed extraterrestrials have had on ancient artifacts. His book "Chariots of Gods?" explains his ideas on each of these pavilions and how they are all linked to visits from outer space.

Controversy[edit]

Von Däniken is an advocate of aliens influencing Earth and he has written books about the subject. All attractions heavily advocated the idea of alien visits to Earth.

The Mystery Park was labeled a "cultural Chernobyl" by Académie suisse des sciences techniques member Antoine Wasserfallen who was cited by the Swiss newspaper Le Temps and other media [1]. The Swiss federal railroad company (SBB) advertised for the park and sold a combined ticket.

Controversy strikes again in August 2005 at Mystery Park. Erich von Däniken decided to have a special exhibition on crop-circles and also a hoaxing-competition. Due to the fact that no school classes nor hoaxers replied to the competition, land surveyor and artist Vitali Kuljasov was asked to create a complex crop circle.[6] The creation of the crop-circle would be caught on surveillance that was set up at the park to document the work of Vitali Kuljasov. The webcam was set up the night before the event was to take place in order to test the position and clarity for the big event. This is when a mysterious formation appeared. Investigators came to Mystery Park to make sense of what had taken place. Very experienced field investigators examined the crop-circle and concluded it was obviously man-made due to amateur mistakes and a crooked performance.[6] However, there was disagreement between one investigator who did not believe the crop-circle was done by a human hoaxer and blamed the "mistakes" on people coming to view it. Investigators then used the webcam that was testing the night the crop circle "appeared" in order to gather more information. The web-cams showed little about what went on that night due to the darkness and camera angles but the biggest pieces of evidence found were the appearance of car headlights coming and leaving around the time the crop-circle was estimated to have "appeared". There was also one person pressed into the field that night which disproved the idea that multiple guests could have made the crop-circle appear to be manmade. Investigators did not find who was behind this hoax but they concluded it was created by human hoaxers. [6]

Failure of Mystery Park[edit]

In the winter of 2004, the park and its governmental support came under heavy criticism by the news channel, SRG SSR idée suisse. Owing to failed expectations that projected 500,000 guests per year when in 2005 only 200,000 visited the park, Mystery Park found itself in dire financial straits.[7] Operation of the park was suspended on November 19, 2006.[8]

Critics also attributed the park's failure to other reasons:

  • Some cited von Däniken's biases regarding alien interactions with ancient civilizations. Although these ideas worked well for his book and documentaries, they had less appeal for theme park visitors.[9]
  • Others blamed failures of the park on von Däniken's strong personal involvement. He had an office on site, sold his books at the park, and regularly interacted with park visitors. In the pavilion with the replica of El Castillo at Chichen Itza, a film promoted his assertion that a spaceship had crash-landed in Mexico thousands of years ago, that aliens assisted by the natives took several teenage boys with them into space, and that the aliens returned the boys to Earth 52 years later after having trained them in advanced technology. He asserted it was they who founded Maya civilization.[10] Critics said that the parallels between the attractions and his theories were serious propaganda designed to persuade people of his theories and to sell books. Instead of a fun family amusement park, the attractions were intended to represent von Daniken's, not imaginary fantasy and entertainment.

Reopening[edit]

On May 16, 2009, the park was renamed Jungfrau Park and reopened by its new owner, New Inspiration Inc., for the summer season hoping to attract at least 500 visitors a day until November 1. In June, a children's paradise (German: Kinderparadies) is on schedule.[11] It opened again for the 2010 season.[12]

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 46°40′56″N 7°53′17″E / 46.68222°N 7.88806°E / 46.68222; 7.88806