Decades Theme Park Coming to Arizona

Decades Rock ‘N’ Roll Theme Park to Rise from the Desert

Phoenix, Arizona is one of the largest metropolitan areas without a major theme park. All of that may change as Decades Theme Park has just received $750 million in funding from the Arizona state government. Decades will be built between Phoenix and Tucson in Eloy, Arizona.

“Governor Janet Napolitano’s approval late Friday, following the State Senate’s days earlier, allows for the creation of a “regional attraction district” between Phoenix and Tucson in Eloy, Arizona. The legislation authorizes up to $750 million in new bonds to pay for project costs. The State of Arizona’s legislation follows that of South Carolina’s which helped make possible the $450 million Hard Rock Park which opened earlier this year in Myrtle Beach.”
MarketWatch Article

Decades Theme Park vs. Hard Rock Park – “Size”
The comparison between these two rock-themed parks is inevitable. Decades’ web site even addresses the comparison in their FAQ page. They applaud Hard Rock Park’s success and encourage people to visit the Myrtle Beach park. Decades sounds happy to be considered a Hard Rock Park in the West. Plans for the Arizona park look much larger than Hard Rock Park. Currently Hard Rock Park is 55 acres compared to Decades conceptual plans of 125 acres. Of course Hard Rock could grow into its full 140 acres as it will have a 4 year head start on Decades. There’s also a very good chance that many planned rides and attractions at Decades won’t make the final cut or will be added much later in the future.

Hard Rock Park vs. Decades Theme Park – “Themes”
As the name implies, Decades will: “feature interconnected Lands and Districts that represent each decade of rock music – the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s in its first phase – with interactive thrill rides, live music and other attractions where audience members can step back in time to the sights and sounds of each era.”

This a logical way to layout a rock ‘n’ roll theme park, but presents an interesting problem when it comes to relevance. The conceptual design has enormous sections dedicated to the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s and much smaller 90’s and 80’s areas which likely hints at the creator’s (Martin West) age. The 90’s area has a roller coaster called Nevermind which references the classic Nirvana album and nothing else. And the 80’s area is larger and shows an Aerosmith inspired drop ride called “Love in an Elevator” and a “Welcome to the Jungle” safari boat ride.

Hopefully, the older music icons like The Rolling Stones that pre-date park goers (even in their early 30s) are as timeless as the creators think. By the time the park opens the references will be even older. When the Baby Boomers are too old for theme parks will they re-theme these areas? I can see a kid in 2020 asking his mom about “The 19th Nervous Breakdown” or the Doors and the mom having no clue about those bands. The theming is by now means a huge deal, but it is interesting to think about. Click here for a large image of the park’s conceptual design.

Hard Rock Park’s sections are broken up by different styles of rock music. There are areas like British Invasion and Cool Country. Hard Rock Park has several rides themed after classic rock bands like the Eagles and Led Zeppelin so they may face that same issue of relevance unless they think of the bands they’ve chosen as timeless and cross-generational.

It will be fun to watch how Decades develops over the coming years. During the development phases, Decades will have the unique hurdle of dealing with Arizona’s desert heat. The park’s FAQ page details plans of misters, shading canopies, water rides and climate controlled areas to deal with the heat. Decades also points out that the apparent temperature of Eloy, AZ is similar to Orlando’s when you factor in Florida’s humidity. Developers are planning to open Decades in 2012.

More on Decades Theme Park’s web site.

What do you think of the planned Decades Theme Park? Are any Arizonans excited about this park? Do you have any ideas for rock-themed rides? Leave a comment below.