The Untold Truth Of ModelLand

"It's my calling to bring modeling to the masses," Tyra Banks told Women's Wear Daily, and that's exactly what she has done. The avid "everyone is beautiful" connoisseur went from a hugely successful modeling career, to creating the famous television series America's Next Top Model, and becoming an entrepreneur, talk show host, business professor, writer, producer, and actress. And now, she can now creator of an attraction to her list of busy business ventures.

ModelLand, a 21,000 square foot one-of-a-kind attraction, is a place where visitors have the chance to "be the dream version of themselves" and experience what it's like to be a supermodel for a day. However, it's not a pop-up shop that's going away anytime soon. It's a concrete building that's here to stay (via Women's Wear Daily). "ModelLand is not just an attraction," Banks has made clear on the venue's website. "It's a place full of story that battles what 'attractive' means. When you step into ModelLand, you enter a fantastical world where we will celebrate your uniqueness while we help you master your angles and up your photo game."

Right when guests walk in, "it is like something they have never experienced," Banks explained to BUILD Series. So what exactly does a visit to this industry-altering attraction entail? Read on for the untold truth of ModelLand.

There are no roller coasters at ModelLand

Though thoughts of theme parks usually bring to mind roller coasters, that's not exactly what ModelLand has to offer. "Maybe in 2040," Tyra Banks laughed to Entertainment Tonight. Instead, guests are greeted in a luxurious way. "You are ModelLand's star. Our cameras are waiting for you," she issued in a statement, and that's when your day of supermodel stardom begins.

In addition to shopping and eating great food — like any amazing attraction should have — visitors of ModelLand can take part in posing classes, get their hair and makeup done, wear expensive outfits, and, of course, have their own runway show and photoshoot complete with a digital lookbook to take home. "Everybody that has a camera phone, to me, is a model. You have social media? You are a model," Banks told BUILD Series. "And when you come to ModelLand, we're going to take it to the next level."

No attraction is complete without entertainment, but as Banks has repeatedly stressed again, guests are the V.I.P.s that everybody wants to see. "There's an immersive theater experience where you are the star. You're not waiting in line to get somebody's autograph," she told Today.

Funny enough, Banks admits that the reality of being backstage at a real runway show is not as glamorous as people think. "It is not sexy at all," she told BUILD Series. However, ModelLand sure is. "I wanted to give people, like, a dream experience that they'll never forget."

ModelLand was inspired by America's Next Top Model

Before Tyra Banks brought the competition America's Next Top Model to television screens across the world in 2003, no one else seemed to share the vision she had. "When I tried to sell this show almost 20 years ago, people were like, 'I don't get it. Nobody's going to watch that,'" she divulged to BUILD Series. With the skinny standards that had overtaken the modeling industry, it just made no sense to invite normal people to compete to be one. "I started America's Next Top Model not to show the world how to pose and smize and all that," Banks explained further to The Talk. "It was really about expanding the definition of beauty." And expand it, she did.

America's Next Top Model, which features a diverse number of aspiring models, is now in 180 countries and "is one of the longest running reality series" in the history of television (via Today). However, this was just the beginning of her breaking down beauty for the world. "Everybody could look at [America's Next Top Model] and connect in some way, but they were sitting at home on their couch or on their phone ... but now it's time to make this available for everyone," Banks told BUILD series. "Top Model was a television show you watched. ModelLand is a show where you are the star."

The attraction is not just for aspiring models

"I knew that I wanted to create a place for more than just professional models to come," Tyra Banks told BUILD Series, and while ModelLand may seem like the perfect place for aspiring models to come experience the industry, it's not just for them. "Men, women, families, all generations can come and enter this model world for a day, have a fun shopping experience, and an eventful meal," she explained to Women's Wear Daily.

The idea behind the attraction is that it was made for absolutely anyone to escape to and feel their most beautiful self at. "The plan is to take what I used to give just a couple of dozen people a year the opportunity on America's Next Top Model, but to bust that door open and have a plan which is ModelLand," she told The Talk. "Anybody can come."  

And the theme park was truly made for everyone. Each photoshoot is completely personalized to make each guest look and feel their best beginning with the right lighting for their skin and hair tones. "I'm talking about giving you the lighting that I've given my America's Next Top Model girls for almost 20 years," Banks told BUILD Series, adding that when guests leave, they "have a digital lookbook of all of the photos that my cameras, that my team, my America's Next Top Model team, and some of the best digital technologists in the world have created for you to take home."

ModelLand is based on Tyra Banks' best-selling book

In 2010, we should've known that Tyra Banks had ModelLand on her mind when she released a novel with the same title. The story follows an unattractive and awkward girl named Tookie who is invited to attend a magical modeling school called — you guessed it — ModelLand. "Imagine Harry Potter's Hogwarts mixed with America's Next Top Model," Banks explained to BUILD Series, and that's exactly what the storyline that her new fantastical attraction portrays as it guides guests through what it's like to be a model. "There is an alternate universe, and in that universe sits a place called ModelLand, and ModelLand crafts the world's supermodels," she explained further to The View.

In fact, Banks based many of Tookie's surreal experiences off of her time as a supermodel (via Amazon). Many times, like Tookie, Banks was told she wouldn't make it in the modeling world. "My entire career I've been told 'no,'" she explained to The View. "No, I can't do something because I'm black. No, I can't do something because my body is thicker." Much like America's Next Model, Banks' goal for ModelLand is to break down barriers that the modeling industry has put up for those who don't fit their standards. "It's time to bust open that door and give everyone that opportunity to feel beautiful, to just push so much self love into their spirit, so I created ModelLand," Banks explained to Good Morning America.

The creators of Disney World helped make ModelLand a reality

As a little girl growing up in southern California, Tyra Banks spent a lot of time at Disneyland. "I've always been insanely inspired by attractions like Disneyland and Universal Studios, and have wanted to bring that spirit of adventure and storytelling to the world of modeling," Banks told Variety. In fact, what better way to replicate Disney's success than to hire the same people to create ModelLand? "I have Disney Imagineers working on this," she revealed to the The Wall Street Journal, adding, "I have people from Cirque du Soleil on my team."

And if she's learned anything from the theatrical workings of the Disney parks, it's to have your own set of iconic characters running around to make the story-driven experience engaging and even more magical. "You know, like you go to Disney and these animals are talking and this weird stuff is happening?" Banks explained to BUILD Series. "We got that at ModelLand, but it's wig heads. Wigs! And they are battling."  

Exactly how big does Banks this new endeavor becomes? "I've always looked up to Walt Disney's empire," she told Variety, adding, "He's created this world for us that we love as a child, cherish as an adult and enjoy as a family. It's his legacy that is never ending." And the possibilities that ModelLand possesses seem to be never ending too.

The attraction is different every time a guest attends

As if this one-of-a-kind attraction doesn't have enough stuff to see upon first visiting, Tyra Banks promises it will be a place that is constantly changing. "No two visits to ModelLand will ever be alike," its website states, and since every guest's supermodel experience is completely personalized — from their lighting to makeup and more — "even friend groups who come together will have their own individual experience at ModelLand."

When visitors arrive a second or third time for a new photoshoot with their same selves, they'll be sent home with a completely new set of images to reflect back on the fantasy version of themselves. "Every single time you come back to ModelLand, you get a new lookbook," Banks explained to BUILD Series. "And if you come for the new season, you get a whole new experience with a whole new theme."

ModelLand has its own original music

As soon as guests enter ModelLand, they will be completely transported to a different world — a world of superstars. "There's a secret door that opens, and your magical journey begins," Tyra Banks explained to BUILD Series. Sounds like something out of a movie, right? Well, the best instruction for any film star is some stellar music too, of course. "I've worked with the top people in the world to create a musical score," Banks added. "So when you walk in, you feel like you are in the star of a movie."

And in addition to being a supermodel, Banks knows exactly what it's like to be a movie star. With a starring role in the Disney film Life-Size in 2000, she worked with producers to sing vocals for the film's original soundtrack. Of course, with ModelLand too, "there's an original score," she divulged to Good Morning America, and each song seems to have its very own meaning, like one called "The Kitty Catwalk." "So when this song plays at ModelLand, everyone needs to start runway walking!" She instructed.

Considering Banks' extremely diverse career background, maybe we'll be hearing some new vocals from the supermodel herself at ModelLand?

ModelLand visitors may just spot Tyra Banks there

As the inventor of the infamous "smize" — defined as smiling with your eyes — Tyra Banks worked very closely with the other creators of ModelLand to create the most picture perfect posing classes for its visitors. In fact, guests might even get to see this supermodel in action. "I will be there every day working, and you might see me every now and then," she divulged to The View.  

And though the attraction was built for even those of us who have no interest in modeling, it sounds like there may be something even beyond ModelLand to look forward to (besides meeting Tyra Banks herself). "I might be discovering somebody that never thought that she could do a cosmetics campaign and has no desire to be a professional model," Banks told USA Today. "I'm going to make her a professional model even if it's just for a day."

Tyra Banks wants to take ModelLand worldwide

Where, do you ask, is this magical getaway? ModelLand is located in none other than Macerich's Santa Monica Place shopping mall. "Like steps from the beach," Tyra Banks told BUILD Series. So for those friends and family members that aren't interested in the modeling scene, there are lots of other places to shop and eat at surrounding her new attraction. In fact, Banks added that the location for ModelLand was very strategically placed. "We're right by the Santa Monica Pier, so that pier is one of the highest traffic tourist destinations in Los Angeles."  

However, not every tourist and Tyra fan is able to head to the L.A. area in order to see the greatest attractions, and businesswoman Banks is fully aware of this. "ModelLand's first location is Santa Monica — the first of many," she revealed on Today, giving prospective guests everywhere hints that this 'land' will be expanding to worldwide domination. "Macerich's Santa Monica Place will be our inaugural flagship with strategic plans to open in other major cities across the U.S.," she explained to Variety, but with supermodels flocking the globe, "we have a robust strategy to expand globally as well. Yes, it is indeed a franchise." Seems we all may just be calling her Miss Disney sometime very soon.

There are different tiers of tickets at ModelLand

Tyra Banks wants everyone to feel beautiful at ModelLand, and she wants everyone to be able to afford to have this experience too. "There's different levels for different budgets," she told BUILD Series of her attraction.

Tickets start at $59 and give all guests the opportunity to take Banks' live posing classes and have professional photos taken. However, "we know that there is a whole 'nother set of people that are like, 'That's fun, but I want to physically transform,'" she told BUILD Series, so these guests are treated to V.I.P. luxury and a complete makeover. "And like very couture-type outfits that are kind of Met Ball-ish," she said, adding, "We have about eight people that deal with that one person. ... Concierge greeting you and serving you fancy stuff to hair to makeup to stylist to photographer to photographer assistant." But before you daydream about this ultimate experience for too long, know that these tickets have been dreamed up to cost $1,495.

Banks has been banking on the first tickets being sold officially at the end February 2020, and whatever the price tag, those fans were in for quite the surprise upon checkout. "I FaceTimed the first people that bought tickets," she told the Today show. Let's hope their selfie game was strong that day.

ModelLand's opening day was delayed

As of this writing, those who dream of living out supermodel stardom for a day will have to put a pause on posing — at least until the coronavirus pandemic passes. "We were supposed to open May 1st, [2020], and we had to make the decision to postpone, just like the rest of the world," Tyra Banks told The Talk via video chat as she was self-isolating at home. "ModelLand is theater. We have actors, we have our dancers, you know, we have guests coming through living this modeling fantasy, posing in classes very close together, doing a lot of fun things, but it's not the safest place to be right now, and so we had to close."

Though as of March 2020, there's no word on when ModelLand plans to officially bust open its magical doors (via Variety), don't think that Banks has no other secrets up her supermodel sleeve. She is ready to share ModelLand with the world. "Without getting into specifics, there will be content elements that are programmable throughout the attraction. The producer and storyteller in me cannot resist," she told Variety, and it seems to be the perfect time in history to do so. "There is IP that will span into features, TV, streaming and beyond. The opportunities with ModelLand are endless."