Utah County is getting ready to welcome a new type of entertainment. It's not a theme park and it doesn't have rides, but what you will find is a massive stage.
Evermore Park is being built just off of I-15 in Pleasant Grove. Utahn Ken Bretschneider is the man behind the project. He says Evermore is an immersive, theatrical experience based around story. It's inspired by experiences he's had and the places he's been.
"We're piecing a bunch of tried and true things together, but making something completely unique," Bretschneider said.
Bretschneider describes Evermore as a stage that's like an old European Village with a medieval gothic feel to it. Productions will take place inside of the park. Crews are building that European Village from the ground up on a 21 acre site. When it's done Evermore will feature about a dozen structures and beautiful gardens. Even though it will look like an old world village, designers used new technology to bring it to life. Before the first shovel hit the pavement the park was designed in virtual reality. To help bring his vision to life, Bretschneider recruited top talent from around the country, including Evermore Chief Creative Officer Josh Shipley.
"As you come in, you are immediately engaged by characters that are saying, "What brings you to Evermore? What are you looking for in this night?," Shipley said.
Shipley left the Walt Disney Company, where he'd been an Imagineer for 21 years, to join the Evermore team. The last project he worked on was turning the Tower of Terror at California Adventure into Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout.
"It had enough pull and enough allure to make me go, I want to build Evermore," Shipley said.
Shipley says you create your own adventure as you walk through the park. The experience is then brought to life with theatrical lighting, an original soundtrack and score, actors and costuming. Events will be held at night and during the day, the park will be a place people can explore with some educational opportunities, too.
"At Evermore we want you to come to the show and be engaged. We want you to interact. We want you to talk to the actors. We want you to create your story, " Shipley said.
Not too far from Evermore Park is Evermore Creative Studios and that is where all of the characters are being made. Logan Long is the Studio Director for Evermore Park. He's tasked with making hundreds of characters that will roam the park.
"We do everything here from sculpture to molding, casting, armor, paint, mechanics for some of our characters, puppetry, full body suits and the list goes on," Long said.
With three major productions already planned for the summer, fall and winter, the studio crew is hard at work bringing the park to life.
"It's as important, if not more important than any of the other departments that we get the right people inside these costumes," Long said.
To make the experience as real as possible Bretschneider and his team went on a treasure hunt to Europe. They visited 22 reclamation yards and dozens of specialized antique dealers in seven different countries. They brought back 14 40-foot containers worth of antique items and architectural details to go inside the park.
For Bretschneider, building Evermore has been an adventure, an adventure that he has even bigger plans for.
"We wanted to bring it to our home state, first. We have ambitions to grow this out further. This is a great place to build a business," Bretschneider said.
Right now, they plan to open Evermore Park at the end of summer 2018 or by early fall.
For more information: https://www.facebook.com/evermorepark/