A theme park can be a major component of a tourism system. Their tendencies to locate at the rural fringe (Didier, 2002) make theme parks an interesting phenomenon to link urban and rural tourism. Indeed, their attractiveness and the flow of visitors they generate can be spectacular. For rural areas, this flow of visitors can be an opportunity to diversify part of this flow to different attractions and facilities. However, the theme park generates some contradictions in its relationship to the surrounding areas and other facilities.
As we can see in the case of Parc Safari in Montreal, high attendance and a steady flow of visitors do not automatically create a destination. The surroundings might not be ready to accommodate and supply tourists with all the services and amenities they need. Particularly in a context where rural tourism stands on low intensity, authenticity and agrarian landscape, a theme park is often based on a high density of visitors, imagined or fantasized space and a built environment. Even when the local stakeholders make an effort to collaborate, the discourses and expectations of those two forms of tourism do not necessarily complement each other. The constraints of rural development and the needs for the density and attendance of theme parks do not naturally go hand in hand. Therefore, we need to call for a middle ground to create gateways between the two logics. These gateways could be through the forms of common narratives and bridging land planning rules to consider (re)producing a common tourism space.
Finally, more research on the way theme parks shape and interact with their host community is needed. Theme parks have been studied mostly as a self-contained phenomenon and as a cultural artefact, but not as a socio-geographical phenomenon. Our study explored three dialectics to analyse the interaction of the Parc Safari with its host community and the local tourism system. These dialectics bring to light some interesting findings on the actual case, but we need more cases to refine these dialectics and better understand the complex relationship between theme parks and their host community.