Modelland: Tyra Banks to open Los Angeles theme park that celebrates modelling

The park will give everyone the chance to be their "fierce best self", the 'America's Next Top Model' host says

US model Tyra Banks arrives at the 2018 American Music Awards on October 9, 2018, in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Valerie MACON / AFP)
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America is getting a new theme park. But at this theme park, there won’t be any roller coasters, gleeful screams or candy floss, just the chance for you to get a glimpse into the exclusive world of modelling.

Modelland is a concept from Tyra Banks, the supermodel-turned-TV host who brought the world the Next Top Model franchise. Banks says her new venture, which has been ten years in the making, will take modelling mainstream and give people the chance to “celebrate their unique beauty”.

Set to open in late 2019 at Santa Monica Place, Los Angeles, Modelland will stretch across nearly 2,000 square metres and aim to “create a new world of storytelling and adventure in a grand, fantastical, physical place where all expressions of beauty are celebrated”. It promises to be an interactive experience, pairing entertainment with curated retail, while also hosting special events.

“It has been my ultimate dream and I have worked tirelessly with laser-focused tunnel vision to bring it to fruition,” says Banks. “Modelland will awaken your childlike glee by entertaining and educating in unexpected ways that will make learning about oneself fierce and fun. I want people to feel seen and validated. Modelland will provide the tools for them to do so and empower them to embrace, adorn and celebrate their own unique beauty.”

While the exact details of what attractions Modelland will boast are sparse, Banks has revealed she aims to create a global network of user-generated content to amplify a diverse range of voices through her Feel the Fierce attraction. Visitors will also be able to try on custom-created gowns to enjoy their own taste of the runway.

Banks, who was inspired by Disneyland and Universal Studios, says her drive to create Modelland was born from her own experience as a young model being told "no", because she was black or too curvy, she says.

"My empathy for women in general increased through the experience," she told Women's Wear Daily. "And now with Modelland, I'm taking it 10 steps forward, giving people the opportunity to engage with the elusive world by opening it up to everyone."

She added that she wants anyone who visits the theme park to feel like a model, and hopes that, after the initial opening, the concept would expand globally.

Conversely, Banks also wrote a young adult sci-fi novel called Modelland, which was published in 2011. The zany story follows a young girl who attends the prestigious boarding school, Modelland, and dreams of joining the "Intoxibellas", the world's most celebrated models. It was supposed to be the first in a trilogy, but its reception was lukewarm at best.