Urban planning vs rural space
The first dialectic at work is between urban and rural planning. This dialectic is expressed when theme parks are located in rural areas, or rather at the fringe between rurality and urbanity. Indeed, the location of theme parks takes into account two factors: highway access and proximity to urban centres (Didier, 2002). The primary market of a theme park is a radius of 50 km around the park, with the secondary market within 50 to 100 km (Price, 2004; Anton Clave, 2007), as these locations are located ideally with one urban centre at the limit, and between the primary and secondary markets (Price, 2004).
The internal design of theme parks develops a harmonious and safe universe (Marling, 1997), where private space takes on the appearance of public space (Anton Clave, 2007). This space accommodates a density of visitors who engage in ambulatory practices, consumption and leisure. These practices are made possible by a human-scale development where the pedestrian is the reference, rather than the automobile. These arrangements take the form of a Main Street where order and visual uniformity allow visitors to easily find their way through the park (Anton Clave, 2007) and allow visitors to indulge in leisure activities, especially to consume and spend money (Davis, 1997).
While the internal design of theme parks suggests urbanization, consumption and density, they are often located in the countryside, or at the fringe, in jurisdictions that revolve around different planning logics. Rural space planning is dealing with residential dispersal, productive activities (mainly agriculture), maintaining populations, but also the protection of amenities (mainly environmental) that enable the productive functions of rural areas (Dugas, 1981). However, the transformation of the productive activities of rural life, the mechanization of agriculture and the relocation of industrial production force those communities to redefine their planning and development agendas. New functions, recreational and residential, appear and create management challenges between the diversification of economic activities and the maintenance of traditional industries in harmonious coexistence. Thus, theme parks are part of the trend towards the diversification of rural activities.