Image courtesy of Evermore
As a kid growing up in Port Dover, Ontario, Ken Bretschneider was enthralled by the elaborate Halloween and Christmas productions put on by his best friend's father, Tony Vanderpost.
“As a kid, it was everything to me,” he says. “It gave me hope in my life and it gave me wonder and imagination.” Bretschneider says Vanderpost, a Dutch immigrant to Canada who died a few years ago of cancer, was everything he wanted to be. “The thing I loved about him was his creativity.”
With that creative spirit, Bretschneider, CEO and a founder of People Water, dreamed up Evermore, a 45-acre fantasy adventure park with a Victorian London theme. During summer, Evermore will present “Carnival of Wonders,” featuring acrobatics, dance theater and music. Things get spooky during the Halloween season with “Ripper's Cove,” a haunt encompassing all five sections of the park. And during the holidays, “An Evermore Christmas” welcomes guests into a Dickens-style winter wonderland.
Located in Pleasant Grove, Evermore will open its first phase in July 2015.
Salt Lake Comic Con FanX guests will get a sneak peek at Evermore, which is the biggest thing we've seen hit Utah County in a long time, as they unveil a model of the future park and reveal some secrets.
Image from Salt Lake Comic Con FanX
We recently chatted with Bretschneider to get more info on the park. We'll run a big story in an upcoming issue, but here's some of what he revealed in our interview:
Tell us a bit more about the time period the park is set in.
“This is taking a quaint European village and plopping it in the middle of Utah. We're literally building a quaint European village, and in that setting, anything's possible. We can create any kind of fantasy we want, because it's all believable. All of the greatest creations of fantasy, whether its old fairy tales or horror or anything else comes from that era . . . We're taking that moment in time and immersing people into that, into being able to create these amazing stories.”
Is this based on anything else? Has it been done before?
“This really hasn't been done anywhere else in the world to date—not to this extent. The closest thing you're going to find is Disneyland, and Disneyland is an amazing place, but it's not Evermore. It's not what we're trying to do here and that's to create a completely embedded, immersive adventure park where you get to kind of choose different adventures and live them out. You can go as deep down the rabbit hold as you want, and you can go very deep.”
So will the park employees be part of that experience (in character)?
“If you're able to get one of our actors to pull out of character, the only time that should ever happen is a time of emergency. Otherwise, you should never be able to get any employee at any level within the park to pull out of character. Everybody will be in character at all times, whether it's janitorial staff or whatever. Even though they're doing a function within the park, they're also actors. An attendant in the bathroom will be an actor. And you'll be having an experience in the bathroom, beyond just the bathroom experience—and I won't mention what's going to happen in the bathroom, but you'll have to find out.”
To pull that off you'll need a lot of actors.
“We anticipate employing about 700 people. Some of those will be seasonal staff, but at least half of that will be full time staff.”
How many visitors are you expecting?
“We hope to attract over 2 million visitors to the park throughout the year.”
We recently interviewed the park's master sculptor, Cory Clawson.
“He's just an incredibly talented guy—probably one of the best sculptors in the country, especially for what we're trying to do. Art is very subjective. I come from a fine arts background, too. I was an oil painter, so I really love the arts and Utah's known for the arts. One of Utah's strong suits is we have phenomenal actors both on camera and on stage, amazing musical talents, amazing dancers and we have amazing artisans. Cory is a good example of that. I absolutely love the guy. I thought he was one of the neatest human beings I had met in a long time. I loved his creativity, and he has this aura about him that's really positive. Most of the team we put together . . . are phenomenal artists in their own areas, whether its costume design, historical deign, set design, sculpting, painting.”
But it's not all fabricated. Tell us about the real stuff.
“We're taking a significant trip to Europe. We've already identified, several sources to bring back antiques, anywhere from 250 to 500 years old, not only set dressing and furniture items, but also architectural details that will be part of the building structures. With that we hope to bring that history, that real history, to Evermore, even though this is an adopted home. When we bring enough of it back here, on a subconscious level, people will pick up on it and really feel the place is real because it has real pieces made by artisans hundreds of years ago from Europe, and in that sense it brings a spirit. Maybe our place will end up being haunted, you never know.”
And what's being revealed at FanX?
“This will literally be the first showcase of the entire park, including a Z scale model of the whole park combined with some 3D animated videos and other presentation material and a few surprises. But primarily, we're looking at this as an opportunity, since we're going to start construction around the May/June timeframe, to make the announcement.”