| Cult of Mac

Fantasy clashes with reality in wonky wonderlands

By

FULLSCREEN
Zombies sit at the bar of Johnny Rockets after the Atlanta Horror Fest presented it's fourth annual Zombie Walk which started off at Lenny's Bar, headed through historic Oakland Cemetery, crossed over into downtown Atlanta and ended at the Underground Atlanta mall. 
One of the mermaid actresses sits near the exit to greet the audience after performing Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' in the underwater theatre in Weeki Wachee State Park in Spring Hill, Florida.
Kendrick Brinson stands in front of the 'Walk Through Time in Georgia' exhibit at Fernbank Natural History Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.
Guests at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas ride on a waterslide through the middle of a shark-filled aquarium on the resort's property.  Themed for it's namesake, Atlantis offers a complex with a water-park, aquarium, casino, spa, six hotels, a fitness center, golf, shopping, a speedway, a night club, and a plethora of dining options, all linked with an array of fake lagoons, Atlantis encourages guests to stay on property.  In fact, they make it kind of difficult to leave.  At Atlantis, you are literally offered complete immersion into this surreal play-land for your entire vacation.
Costumed employees take a turn in the photo booth during a 30th birthday celebration at a roller rink in Atlanta, Georgia. 
One of the mermaid actresses holds a finger to her mouth to hush the crowd while performing Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' in the underwater theatre in Weeki Wachee State Park in Spring Hill, Florida.
A lion handler sits with his pride inside the lion enclosure at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. 
A couple takes in a miniature model of the city of Jerusalem in Biblical times at the Christian theme park, Holy Land Experience, in Orlando, Florida.  The religious tourist attraction serves as a mix between a place for worship, historic study, and a large scale three-dimensional stage for the daily live performances.
An actor playing Jesus stands with his arms outstretched greeting visitors at the Christian theme park, Holy Land Experience, in Orlando, Florida.  The religious tourist attraction serves as a mix between a place for worship, historic study, and a large scale three-dimensional stage for the daily live performances.
A faux Airstream trailer houses a miniature bowling alley inside the Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Themed with the outdoors in mind, the casino caters to the bass-fishing types and even houses a grand scale Bass Pro Shops prominently next to the front entrance.
Tourists explore The National Wax Museum in Dublin, Ireland where visitors are invited on a tour through Irish History followed by an odd mix of popular culture ranging from fairy tales and music to horror films, all depicted by magnificently crafted wax sculptures.
Tourists pose with a fake Greek statue outside Ceasar's Palace Casino on the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The stretch of road offers one casino after another, each with themes of their own, ranging from New York City to ancient Greece.  With a nickname of 'Sin City', and a common belief that, 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,' the city has become an adult sexual fantasy land as well as playing host to countless fake realities. 
An employee at the World of Coca-Cola hugs a life-size version of one of the company's marketing campaign icons at the company's permanent historical exhibition in downtown Atlanta, GA.
Venezuelans celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Caracas and in the Petare barrio in Caracas, Venezuela.  Semana Santa is the last week of Lent, and the week before Easter.  It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  Petare, which is considered the largest barrio in Latin America, hosts an elaborate staging of the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross), which draws a massive crowd as local actors depict Jesus carrying his cross to his own crucifixion and his final hours, or 'Passion', before his death and subsequent resurrection. 
The huge white pillars of the Southern-style plantation home welcome you as you approach the very birthplace and origin of all things Cabbage Patch at Babyland General Hospital.  A nurse with baby in arms greets visitors with a smile and a bit of a wild eye as you sign in and head towards the nursery.  At the end of the hallway of pastel pink and blue nursery rooms filled with infant dolls, double doors open into the main event.  Some might call it a glorified gift shop, but the live birth demonstrations around the enchanted tree make it something much more.  Colored glowing lights change hues casting strange ambiance onto fairies flying around the tree, and the small faces reaching out of the cabbages which lay at its base.  While the place serves as an elaborate ploy to sell merchandise, it still takes the time to sell an entire lore surrounding the creation of the small Cabbage Patch Kids to the large imaginations of the tiny visitors soaking it all in.  

Real life gets old real quick. Work, chores, traffic jams, monotony — all the details of the daily grind infect the human body and build into a fever that only breaks when bags get packed.

The search for diversion leads to amusement parks and roadside wonders, roller coasters and stage extravaganzas. Kids can be kids, adults can be kids again, and sometimes, David Walter Banks is on hand to capture fantasy becoming reality with behind-the-scenes images that cast new light on tourist attractions.

Such moments of cognitive dissonance comprise The Fourth Wall. The entertainment industry takes in billions annually but even the most luxurious resorts and casinos provide an imperfect illusion. Visitors fill the gaps between animatronics and costumes with their own imagination, and the disconnect beats at the heart of Banks’ photo project.

“I love the idea of these places,” he says. “As adults, so many of us have lost our wonder and given up our urge to chase dreams. In a way, these places invite the adult population to chase an outlandish dream once more, even if only for a fleeting moment. Even if it’s plastic and cracked and they know it is all fake. They are still getting up, putting on their tennis shoes, and going out in search of magic.”

Abandoned amusement park gives photog a wild ride

By

FULLSCREEN
The playground which grew into Dadipark was built in part to revive tourism in the wake World War II.
Play at Dadipark was segregated when operated by the clergy, with boys taking morning hours and girls the afternoons.
Van De Sande’s grandfather was a nature photographer.
Van De Sande’s uncle lived in Dadizele but family visits never included a trip to Dadipark.
Another stop during his urban explorations was the abandoned village of Doel, slated for demolition for Antwerp’s harbor expansion.
Dadipark photos were originally edited with Apple Aperture but Van De Sande has recently switched to Lightroom.
The greatest challenge to minimizing the fisheye effect was leveling the photographs correctly.
Efteling in the Netherlands opened its Fairy Tale Forest more than three years before Disneyland came on line.
A NauticJet can include an 18 foot drop and reach speeds of up to almost 25 mph.
According to the IAAPA’s 2011 report the odds of serious injury occurring on a ride at permanent American amusement parks is 1 in 24 million.
Less than 5% of victims of American amusement park accidents required extended hospitalization in 2010.
In 2012 Disney’s Magic Kingdom resort welcomed more than 17 million visitors, the highest attendance in the global industry.
Ward Vergote, mayor of Dadizele, initiated an action committee to save Dadipark in 2005.
During Dadipark’s lifetime the town’s classification as a tourist zone exempted businesses from restrictions on open hours and weekend operations. Dadizele recently had this classification extended, in spite of having lost a major attraction.

Kris Van de Sande’s distorted pictures of Dadipark, an abandoned Belgian amusement park, weren’t made under ideal circumstance, but they capture the distressed carnival atmosphere of the decaying attraction perfectly.

The look comes from a stroke of bad luck: While on a 2011 photographic pilgrimage to the modern ruins, Van de Sande’s gear crapped out and he was forced to make due with a loaner.

“I was limited very much with the equipment so I borrowed a fisheye lens,” he says over FaceTime from his home in Hasselt, Belgium. “I’m not a big fan of the fisheye thing but I tried to shoot as if it was just a wide-angle.”