If you've been living under a rock maybe you haven't heard about some recent theme park blog drama going around. We aren't going to get into the specifics (because it's quite literally ridiculous) but what we do want to talk about is some of the reasons this may be happening.
Written by Gregg Condon
Before I get into the meat of this I just want to preface with this:
There are some AMAZING websites/social media accounts that are based in FL. Some I've been following personally for a VERY long time. These are websites that give their opinions in a non-biased way, that play by the rules, don't generally get involved in the drama and do a damn fine job of sharing the joy and love they have for theme parks. This article has NOTHING to do with them. =)
Drama between theme park websites is nothing new, heck, drama in all of the internet is something that is nothing new. Even though this website is only about 5 1/2 years old right now, I've actually been involved in theme park websites in one way or another since 2001.
My first Disney message-board was on Laughing Place, and also around the same time WestCoaster (because I actually like more than Disney, go figure). I eventually became a moderator on WestCoaster and on another site I won't name when they started their message-boards. I was also a moderator/admin/writer on MiceChat for quite a few years before starting this site 5 years ago. In fact, you can still see me in a lot of their YouTube videos including the most viewed video on their site ever, media day for Lex Luthor Drop of Doom at SFMM. (Yep, MiceChat's most viewed video has nothing to do with Disney).
But even with all of that history, for the most part, I get along with everybody that I worked with on those sites, and through them have developed some of my most cherished friendships.
Calico River Rapids POV with our friends from Theme Park Duo
There was a time however when the different Disney/Theme Park Websites in CA didn't get along. There was a very us vs them mentality that thankfully does not really exist in CA anymore (for the most part), and we are better for it.
No, it seems most of that drama has now shifted to the websites/blogs that are based in FL. Not ALL mind you, 90% of the websites are amazing and get along great.
And I think I may know at least part of the reason for this, so bear with me for a minute.
When we started this website we had some existing connections because I had written for those other sites, so we had kind of an advantage over some other start-up blogs. Heck, our first media day for Fright Fest at Six Flags Magic Mountain was actually the reason this site even exists as it didn't exist before that. You can read more of that story here.
I had PR contacts at Knott's and Universal Studios Hollywood that I reached out to pretty early on.
For awhile we were not included in media "events", which was totally understandable. We were growing our numbers via park updates and whenever a park would send us a press release we'd get them posted ASAP (something we still strive to do today). Because our thought was if a park was giving us a chance to essentially "prove" ourselves, then we should make sure we were being good stewards of that chance. And again, to this day we feel this way.
We also had a goal. When we started the site it was just around the time things were starting to move on Wizarding World Hollywood, and our goal was to be invited to that media event. I'm happy to say we met that goal.
But here is where the difference is between CA and FL. If this site were based in FL, we would have never been given that chance. There seems to be a disconnect in how parks handle media requests, even among the same park chain (this also happens with Cedar Fair and Six Flags parks, you'll see no media/press releases from Cedar Point and Six Flags New England on this site as an example, not by our choosing but because of the media standards those parks utilize).
In CA, due to the sheer number of theme parks and seasonal (Halloween) events, it seems that it's easier for a newer site to be included. Sure, we still have to prove ourselves, but it seems that parks/events are more willing to give a site a chance vs just relying on "numbers". (Disney is the exception here)
However, in FL, it's ALL about the numbers. We were probably 2 1/2 to 3 years old before we reached out to any of the FL parks, because we knew it was this way. And still, to this day, we've only been invited to media events at one park in FL (Busch Gardens). We have however been on the "press release" list for many of the parks.
And I think this is where the current issues are coming from.
In FL there is a "competition" factor at play. Everybody is trying to be "first". First to break a story, first to confirm a rumor, first to post that POV.
In CA, when we're all at media events, there seems to be a general camaraderie. Sure, we're all there to do the best job in promoting whatever park/event we're at and do the best for our followers, but we all kind of get along. I'm FB friends with people from a variety of websites. If another site has a great story/scoop, we'll share it. And people have shared ours as well.
I'm not going to sit here and say that the drama is 100% because of the spirit of competition that is seemingly happening in FL (and also, remember, I'm 2,500 miles away, so I'm only seeing the online component of this). You also have very strong personalities at play here.
But I think when you couple the strong personalities and the competition factor that seems to be at play then you get drama and not the "love and joy" of theme parks that I mentioned at the top.
And that's really the greatest issue at play here. Due to all of this drama that even Disney has had to address this week, we're losing the joy and love for theme parks. That's certainly why we do this.