Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo

Modelland: Tyra Banks’ Newest Theme Park

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UFL chapter.

Tyra mail! Supermodel and former “America’s Next Top Model” host Tyra Banks is back, and she’s claiming new territories like never before. Her latest project has been the release of Modelland — the newest modeling-inspired theme park in sunny California.

“It’s a permanent attraction anchoring the mall,” Banks said. “I’m inspired by Disneyland, a place I went to a lot as a child. There is a storyline I have been working on for a year. Anybody can enter and feel like a model.”

This 21,000 square foot attraction gives visitors the chance to “be the dream version of themselves,” Banks said. The combination of retail and interactive entertainment features will allow visitors to understand what modeling is all about. This theme park will be breaking down barriers that limit what people of certain races, genders, backgrounds and ages can do — anyone can enjoy the park regardless of experience level. It’s all about relating back to the reason behind why Banks created “America’s Next Top Model” in the first place. She said she wanted to “expand the definition of beauty based on [her] own pain of being told ‘no’ that [she] couldn’t do something because [she’s] curvy or black.” These are not appropriate reasons to not give someone a chance at modeling when there are so many out there in the world who can relate to being black or being curvy. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, Banks talked about the struggles she faced in Milan when specific designers started turning her down as her body began to develop. When she ran to her mom crying and promised herself that she would eat salads and constantly run around the block from that point forward, her mom — being the fierce role model she is — said: “No, you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to go eat pizza.” This was one of the moments that changed her life forever. Banks began to follow her heart in the direction of diversity because she never wanted anyone to face what she had to face from the agencies or feel the sadness that she felt from them rejecting her position. Banks’ “empathy for women in general increased through the experience,” and she wants to give people “the opportunity to engage with the elusive world by opening it up to everyone.” This industry is all about inclusiveness and making sure everyone feels accepted. Diversity is something that we should celebrate because it is what makes us different and unique in our own ways. As Banks stated in her 2018 bestselling novel, being perfect is boring and being human is beautiful.

Banks released her book “Modelland” back in 2011, and she recently put forth a graphic novel to cast real people to inspire those in her book. Through the Modelland Instagram site, she included descriptions of different characters to bring together the idea of “comic couture.” This allowed her to engage with fans and showcase a diverse array of characters that will mimic the storytelling at the park. She states, “we wanted to do a graphic novel because we feel like the audience is very visual, so we want to tell the story with visuals in a medium that they can connect with.” So, what else does this theme park offer for prospective visitors? There will be different level tickets that give visitors a variety of experiences, whether it be the whole park’s entertainment venues or just shopping at the Santa Monica Place shopping mall. Modelland will feature shopping, dining, entertainment and special events that will “awaken your childlike glee,” Banks said. It will be an exciting time for the fashion and beauty industry and will fulfill Banks’ calling to bring modeling to the masses.

Tyra Banks is doing some pretty big things, and Modelland is just the cherry on top. From tearing down the idea that you have to fit a perfect cookie-cutter mold to be a model to launching a storyline behind this up-and-coming theme park, she is killing the game.

“I want people to feel seen and validated,” Banks said. “Modelland will provide the tools for them to do so and empower them to embrace, adorn and celebrate their own unique beauty.” Modelland will be officially opened before the close of 2019, and you can expect the grand opening to be just as fairytale-like as the theme park hints at.

Lauren Reho is a second-year public relations major and French minor at the University of Florida. She loves vintage fashion, travel, and Broadway, and has a passion for promoting inclusivity and diversity in the communications industry. One day, she hopes to work in her favorite destination, New York City, and live out her true Carrie Bradshaw dreams. You can get to know her more through her Instagram and Twitter @laurenreho