Wild Adventures Theme Park, Firecracker Ride in Zombieland (2009)
by Aicha Moustapha
Zombieland (2009) filmed a few scenes at a theme park in Valdosta, GA called Wild Adventures. This park was created by a “self-made” millionaire name Kent Buescher who wanted to turn his plot of farmland into an amusement park for the community. The park began as a small petting zoo called “Liberty Farms Animal Park” in the early 90s, but over time rides were added, along with more animals and eventually a concert venue that hosted different Country, Pop and Christian singers (Roadside America). I grew up in Bainbridge, GA
which is not too far from Valdosta, and this park was extremely popular in the south and it was a place where people went every summer.
According to VisitValdosta.org, it is depicted as a fun place with tons of different activities for the whole family, and there’s water parks and petting zoos. In the movie, the park was called “Pacific Playland”, and it was the destination they were all trying to get to. Instead of the park being in Valdosta, GA, it was in California on the other side of L.A. It was depicted as a theme park where there were no zombies and the older main characters (Columbus, Tallahassee & Wichita) all went there as kids and enjoyed the place. Little Rock wanted to go to see what it is all about, so Wichita agrees to take her to let her “be a kid”.
However, the whole “family friendly” vibe changes because the park became infested with zombies, and the girls turned this theme park into a killing ground for the zombies by getting on the “firecracker” ride and used their weapons to shoot at the zombies that were surrounding the ride. I would say the meaning and nature of the park got changed in the movie because what started as an innocent park for kids and the family turned into a place with blood, guts and
crushed zombies all over it. However, even though it got changed it didn’t really change or upset the local people who enjoyed this park.
In the film, the park was transformed by the production. It looked bigger and it definitely made me forget that I was in Valdosta for a second. It did
increase the popularity of the place. So, for the locals to know that famous actors were riding some of the same rides as them made them extremely happy and amused to continue visiting the park.
According to Desiree Carver, in 2017 the park and experience became memorialized by Explore Georgia and the Georgia Department
of Economic Development during Georgia’s “Year of Film”. There was even a “selfie spot” added to the park, where locals can take pictures by and use different hashtags to show off that they are in the same location where this movie was filmed.