Transformation in a World of Wonder™
|Setting created by grumbus }|
The innocuous name ‘Wondertainment’ belies a savagely litigious corporation dead set on dominating every media market they can. Owned and operated by the eccentric but brilliant Walter Wonder, the company has as many business ventures as it has outstanding lawsuits.
In an odd move around eight-or-so years ago, Walter (or Dr. Wonder, as he likes to be known) purchased the pharmaceutical company Meconstruction, a contender in the growing industry of automated plastic surgery. Investors and the public were puzzled at the new move, some postulating that they were pivoting away from entertainment altogether.
Mostly though, it was forgotten and dismissed as one of Walter’s insane pet projects. It was a massive surprise to all parties when the 23rd annual Wondercon was not centered around movie-promotion, but the opening of WonderWorld; ‘The Theme Park of the Future, Today!’
The park boasted a variety of environments to immerse their guests in:
Wonder-City, a sprawling metropolis populated by a plethora of caped heroes and spandex-clad villains;
Wonder-Kingdom, a medieval land of sword and sorcery, its forests populated with mysterious elves, and rocky plains inhabited by savage monsters;
Wonder-Academy, a venture into the vast amounts of intellectual property purchased from Japan, where improbably-colored hairstyles are the norm and the genre can change at the drop of a hat.
(Other boroughs are pending, of course.)
The roar of mouth-frothing fans drowned out the announcement of the extraordinarily exorbitant pricetag.
Included in the base package are three days in the Wonder-Place of your choice and a free body-resculpting to match the locals. Additionally, you are given a basic ‘Plotline’ to follow; a recently recruited hero for Wonder-City, a new adventurer for Wonder-Kingdom, a transfer student for Wonder-Academy, etc. etc. Packages have to be upgraded if you want to inhabit the role of an established character.
Any hanky-panky above PG-13 or violence beyond mild-roughhousing is strictly prohibited from both staff and guests — though one can bypass the former through underground channels. The actors in the park are well-trained, however, and can easily fake a dramatic death or budding romance at the drop of the hat.
As with anything owned by Wondertainment, the cheery facade masks a dark underbelly. The staff, by necessity, has been organized into a strict hierarchy; with management at the top; technicians, writers, and actors a rung lower on the ladder; and sanitation, maintenance, and grunt workers at the bottom. Bright eyes dazzled by the magical prospects touted by employment ads and the roaring river of Wonder-media usually leave the park glassy and disillusioned.
Actors are the most sought-after positions; for both the prestige of such a position and the benefits afterward. Contracts are set for five years at the minimum, and anyone who makes it through that crucible can get any Wondertainment-owned role they desire. The selection and training process is rigorous too, a strict regimen of lessons to teach them how to stay in-character no matter their form or situation.
Many a proud graduate of that program have been bitterly disappointed by the nature of their assignment. Gender, age, height: all these and more are no barrier to the Wondrous™ auto-surgeons of Meconstruction!
(Rumors swapped amongst the maintenance staff suggest that willingness is equally dismissable, as exemplified by the impetuous thespians who left their ‘disciplinary sessions’ as legendary method actors.)
Writers are assigned to create exciting new Plotlines for their awaiting guests. There are a few that create Wonderful™ experiences every time they put pen to paper, but a fair amount of the writer’s room is burnt out, and just rehash usual tropes for their none-the-wiser guests. A few luminaries are employed as coaches for the actors, watching plots unfold through contact-lens cameras whilst whispering plot twists and story directions into the actor’s cleverly hidden earpieces. Whether the actors listen or not is a bit of a toss-up.
Technicians are stretched to their creative limit as well by Wondertainment’s nigh-unmeetable quota: designing new animatronics for creatures and roles unoccupiable by humans; new gadgets to enhance the realism of each environment; and pushing the envelope of Meconstruction’s technology.
(There are rumblings of discontent among the actors about artificially intelligent robots created to take their starring roles in the park, but those are mostly dismissed with much rolling of the eyes and scoffs of ‘Science fiction!’)
Wonder-World’s mantra is ‘customer-obsession’, after all. Who needs to follow labor laws when you have mountains of cash?