Evaluating themed places

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China at Epcot, Disney World

A themed place can be evaluated in terms of the completeness and accuracy of the place's theme -- this is especially relevant in educational places. Another criterion is the appropriateness of the theme for its intended audience, and another the moral and political appropriateness of the place's purpose.

Then there is my favorite criterion: the degree of complexity within the theme and in its realization, together with the degree of self-awareness of the process of inhabiting the themed place. For instance, at Epcot, the boat ride in the Mexican section runs the viewer by a series of tableaux and animatronic figures that enact the most cliched stereotypes of Mexican tourism, whereas in the Chinese section the 360-degree film makes some attempts to get beyond standard images of a homogeneous China (though it still stays "politically correct" in its picture of Chinese minorities).