Why wait for the zombie apocalypse? One man wants customers to experience the terror now.
With soaring budget deficits and population on the decline, Detroit has become a laboratory for testing out creative solutions for cities, like urban farming and pedestrian-friendly greenway trails.
Mark Siwak says he has his own idea for bettering the city -- a live-action zombie theme park set in one of Detroit's abandoned neighborhoods.
Paying customers would be chased by a growing horde of zombies (all professionals) through a cordoned-off, desolate section of the city, seeking shelter in abandoned homes and factories and businesses.
Z World creator Siwak, who has launched a fundraiser on IndieGoGo (he's raised $2,200 of the $140,000 needed to meet his goal), says that the city of Detroit needs to consider creative solutions to areas of urban blight.
Mayor Dave Bing's long-touted campaign promise was the implementation of the Detroit Works Project, which could ultimately relocate residents from blighted districts to more populated areas in an attempt to centralize city services. Spread across 140 square miles, Detroit proper is so large that the entire cities of San Francisco and Boston, plus the borough of Manhattan, can fit inside its borders.
And Siwak says, with all that land, there's room in the Motor City for a zombie theme park. He even compares his idea to the city's famed Heidelberg Project, in which artist Tyree Guyton transformed the empty homes of his neighborhood into a large-scale art installation.
But some critics have shrugged off "Z World" as an exploitative and insensitive ploy to profit off the glamorization of Detroit's problems. Curbed Detroit blogger Sarah Cox wrote that Siwak's plan "sounds a lot like all that fun we had during the 1960s race riots. It is nice to know that Z Land is finally going to capitalize on our love of adrenaline rushes and nostalgia. Now even visitors from the 'burbs can 'wonder if they will make it through the night.'"
Siwak told CBS Detroit that "the city can only have so many urban farms or similar uses for vacant plots.'
And while he's far away from his funding goals, not to mention permission from the City of Detroit, he says he's already getting resumes from Detroiters who'd like their next 9-to-5 to focus on eating brains and staggering through the streets.
On his site, Siwak assured, "while zombies are great, the real neat thing about this project is the potential to inject some life into a forgotten neighborhood - with the opportunity to work with neighborhood groups and organization."
This wouldn't be the world's first live-action zombie role-play game, though Detroit's proposal is almost certainly the most expansive. In Atlanta, thrill-seekers wielding paint ball guns will pay as much as $30 to play hide-and-seek with undead zombies in a formerly abandoned truck stop rechristened as the Atlanta Zombie Apocalypse, opening Sept. 28. Over on the other side of the pond, wish.co.uk offers zombie combat mission experiences with training from military veterans and movie-grade special effects.