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ADVENTURELAND

Designing Adventureland
One of the most offbeat characters in ADVENTURELAND isn't a human being at all, but the amusement park itself, with its slightly tawdry, occasionally thrilling, always quirky ambiance, which sets the tone for James' summer journey into and out of romantic limbo.

Notes Ted Hope: "Greg Mottola always talked about Adventureland being this kind of place where at one moment it might be filled with screaming, puking kids and all kinds of rancid people and the same songs playing over and over again until your ears bleed; and the next, the light would start to dim, a soft summer breeze would rise up, your favorite song would come on and suddenly the girl you've been nervous about for days is walking towards you and everything is magical. That's the feeling he wanted in the movie.”

To get to that feeling, though, he'd have to find the park not of his dreams, but of his memories. Sadly, the actual Adventureland – the one in Farmingdale, New York, where Mottola worked as a Columbia student– had long since been renovated almost beyond his recognition. "It had a completely different feeling than the place I remembered,” says Mottola.

This meant that Mottola would have to set out on a quest to find that rare amusement park which had retained that 80s feeling, one that had an urban setting but few modern amenities -- no easy feat in an age of increasingly high-tech and cross-marketed parks. "A lot of amusement parks are very corporate these days,” observes Mottola. "They have a lot of cartoon character affiliations with Disney or Warner Brothers, and we didn't want that. We were looking for that one amusement park that hasn't changed much over the years.”

Ultimately, Mottola's search would take him to the industrial city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania -- where Mottola had attended Carnegie Mellon as an undergraduate -- and Kennywood Park, one of just two amusement parks on the National Register of Historic places. Founded in 1898, Kennywood has survived two World Wars and the Great Depression and made it into the 21st Century with its coasters, game booths and independent spirit intact.

Mottola quickly fell in love with the place. "Kennywood was immediately attractive to me because I have a lot of affection for Pittsburgh,” he comments. "It's definitely a much nicer park than the Adventureland I remember, but it was preserved enough and so spacious that there was room for us to make it a little grungier, to bring in our own dilapidated booths and garbage and create the rougher look of Adventureland. The park was very game to give us our own corners and let us change things.”

Adds Ted Hope: "I don't know if we could have made this movie if Kennywood didn't exist. Where else could we have found an amusement park so meticulously maintained that we could shoot a period piece? Where else could we have found an amusement park that wasn't corrupted by blatant branding – yet had that atmosphere of old-fashioned fun? Lo and behold, Kennywood had it all.”

Once Kennywood made the cut, Mottola quickly embraced Pittsburgh as a location and as James' new hometown. ""Pittsburgh is a really interesting, photogenic city, so it felt liberating to make the decision to stay there. Behind Kennywood is one of the last operating steel mills. It's part of the city's fabric, and things like that add to the look and feel of the film,” says the director.

Shooting at Kennywood did, however, present its own bevy of challenges. Filming had to straddle summer and fall, taking place when the park was still operational; and no ride could be turned on without being inspected and cleared by a Kennywood representative, even if the ride only appeared in the background, with no riders.

For the cast however, the playful atmosphere was perfect. "It was such a fun environment to have

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