By Zeus! Meet the gods in a theme park

Apollo, Hercules and the rest of the zany Greek gang will be waiting for you in Athens. Catherine Pepinster reports
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The Independent Online
Step aside Mickey Mouse, Asterix, and the Lego people. The next theme park stars will be Hercules, Zeus, Apollo and other heroes of Greek mythology.

Mythos Park is a pounds 100m theme park which is to be built on the outskirts of Athens. Its British architects, Scott Brownrigg and Turner, are planning, for the first time anywhere, to create in steel and concrete the ancient world of the gods and heroes which long inspired Western art and civilisation.

Unlike the usual venues dedicated to the ancient world, there will be no fusty, dusty corridors filled with glass cabinets of pottery fragments. Instead, visitors will be able to clamber inside a Trojan Horse, be scared by animatronic, multi-headed hydrae, and watch fireworks explode around the throne of Zeus. There will be water rides taking families past the ships of Jason and the Argonauts, and chutes whisking visitors alongside the city of Atlantis, with Poseidon and his trident rising from the deep.

Mythos Park will be divided into a number of zones, each representing a different period in Greek history or mythology. One zone will re-create the seven wonders of the ancient world, while another will be dedicated to monsters. Children will be able to wander the Labyrinth, where the Minotaur feeds on the flesh of maidens, and watch the 12 labours of Hercules, from killing monsters to stealing a golden girdle.

For children used to meeting the likes of Donald Duck and Goofy on past trips to theme parks, there will be a guide to show them through the wondrous world of myths: Homer himself will put in appearances.

The actor hired to play the blind storyteller will not be alone. Dozens more are expected to be hired to play gods and athletes too, who will encourage children to join them on the track of a re-created ancient Olympic stadium.

Panos Panayiotou, the Greek Cypriot architect heading Scott Brownrigg and Turner's Mythos team in Guildford, believes the park will appeal to children because of the emphasis on adventure. "Our intention is to educate as well as entertain through stories that have lasted thousands of years."

Mr Panayiotou first proposed the theme park five years ago, but the land close to the new Athens airport only became available recently. Consultants are working with the architects and the landowner to present updated plans to the Greek government next month.

Yesterday, Greek scholars welcomed the plan for the theme park. Dr Peter Jones, a Newcastle University classics lecturer and co-founder of Friends of Classics, said: "This is the way the Greeks regarded myth, as great, entertaining stories, which are both deeply serious and enormous fun. They remain absolutely compelling."

Peter Parsons, Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford, said that he welcomed an attempt to encourage children to begin to learn about mythology from an early age. "It is rather like eating habits. Children might like fast food, but then they can move on to boeuf bourguignon in later life.

"They start with stories or a visit to a play like this and they go on to read Homer."

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