Written by Gregg Condon
As enthusiasts it's easy for us to look at things from an enthusiasts point of view. Whether it's coasters and theme parks, movies, music ... pretty much anything that people are, well, enthusiastic about.
When a new ride opens, for example, we put on our enthusiast hat and we rate the coaster based on those factors. It's the nature of things. We are knowledgeable about whatever it is we are enthusiastic because we spend our free time online reading about our hobby, spend more time actually doing our hobby and generally spend more money on our hobby than those we consider to be the "General Public".
Unfortunately with that knowledge and enthusiasm comes a tendency to think we are "better than" others or they just don't "get it".
Even with all of the money we all spend at parks, and the fact that through clubs and sites we are sometimes able to get "special access" to things, we are in the grand scheme of things a drop in the bucket to the theme parks bottom line. Parks are about making money, this means catering to the most common denominator, and we aren't it.
So when we ride a new ride, see a new ride announcement, visit a theme park ... it's important for us to try and see things from the parks point of view, better yet, from the "General Public" point of view. The people who will make their one visit to the park each year (or every few years), they are the ones who will buy gate tickets instead of AP's, spend money on the merchandise, food, etc.
For me personally, I've never really used the word "Enthusiast" to describe myself. I like a LOT of different things, visiting theme parks and riding coasters is just one of my hobby's, sure I'm enthusiastic about it, but I've always seen it more of an "ambassador" role than anything.
Sometimes it's hard while waiting in line for something, hearing somebody from the "GP" making a comment and not wanting to correct them. We've all heard the "This ride goes like 90 mph" when it actually goes about 55 mph. And we've all also seen "that guy" who tries to prove he's better than everybody else because he knows the top speed, number of inversions, capacity of the ride and ride manufacturer.
Nowhere is this more prevalent than at Disney parks, Disneyland in particular. As a long-time Annual Passholder (from 1997-2013) we saw this a LOT. For us, going to Disneyland on average of twice a month was always about just going to enjoy a day at the park. It was never about "let's see what needs to be painted this week'. Even now, as we've developed this website, with VERY RARE occasions do we get hyper critical of anything. Sometimes it's inevitable but we've made a conscious decision to not go that route.
This also extends into another arena, and we've all heard the terms "Passholes" or "Assholders" to describe Disneyland AP's.
When you are visiting a park, try to put yourself in the shoes of somebody who is visiting for the first time. Whether it's a coaster or an E-ticket "Dark Ride". You may have ridden it hundreds or thousands of times, but for somebody who is riding it for the first time, don't ruin their "magic".
You may want to know how everything works, you may have studied it online, but keep that to yourselves. Don't spoil the ride. I always treat dark rides like I'd treat going to the theater. To be respectful of those around you and be an "ambassador" of the park.
Sure, go ahead and sing along with the pirates or the ghosts, but put that phone away, enjoy where you are and what you've spend your money on.
Moving back to Coasters themselves, because that is the point of this article.
When a new ride opens, let's use Fury 325 as an example, there are generally a barrage of reviews from "enthusiast" sites, talking about "another Boring B&M" and it being "forceless".
RIDES ARE NOT BUILT FOR US!!!!
While my personal top-20 includes a lot of "enthusiast favorite" coasters like Intimidator 305, SkyRush, El Toro and Phoenix, it also includes rides like Verbolten, Gold Striker, Flight Deck, Mr Freeze and Big Thunder Mtn Railroad.
Why? Because for me, I like to have fun on a coaster. It's not always about the biggest and fastest, it's about fun. Some of the most fun rides I've ever had on a coaster have been late night rides on something like Goliath at SFOG or the last rides we got on Colossus before it closed. Not because it's the biggest or fastest, but because it's just a fun ride with a lot of fun people.
So next time you're at a park, and you see somebody who's out enjoying the park with their family, don't look down on them, be that ambassador for the theme park community.
See a kid who's scared of the ride? Talk to him a bit about the ride itself and about how safe and fun it is.
Give up that front seat ride to somebody who doesn't visit the park as often as you do. Enjoy the park as if it's your only visit there,
I guarantee you'll have a blast and maybe just see the park you visit all the time in an entirely new light.