The Paradise That Barely Was

It started out—like so many failed things do—as a beautiful dream: a sprawling wonderland at the edge of a lake, a hedonistic playground the likes of which the area had never seen. Outside the confines of the city and everyday reality, the park would be a beacon of joy and whimsy, drawing visitors from near and far with its epic grandeur. There would be lazy rivers, an unending tangle of waterslides, aquariums filled with exotic fish and crocodiles, and a giant amphitheater from which to watch daily shows. It would be an amusement park, sure, but it would also be a glittering and magical kingdom; a newfangled temple where the modern-day gods of affluence—distraction, leisure, pleasure, entertainment—could be worshipped wholeheartedly. It would be a sparkling new jewel in the crown of an imperial city on the rise.

And for a short time, it was.

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