And don't let anybody tell you any different ...
Written by Gregg Condon
Originally Published 4/19/17
Look, I get it. Your favorite park is Disney, or it's Universal, or it's Cedar Point, or it's a Six Flags park. You think Disney is too crowded (OK it might be) or that Universal uses too many Screenz (maybe they do) and Cedar Fair and Six Flags don't theme their coasters (what's the point when they're going 70 mph). So for ALL of these reasons and more, you'll only visit one theme park chain.
But why? It's probably the greatest time in the history of theme parks to be a theme park fan. They are all trying to one-up each other and it's AMAZING.
In the 90's and early 00's we had the great coaster wars. Amusement Parks from, well really Illinois to New Jersey were trying to one-up each other with taller and faster coasters (California and the West Coast somehow got left out of this). But that didn't do anything for fans of Disney or Universal parks.
Disney was the king of the themed environment for decades. Not only themed rides, but lands around those rides. A recreation of New Orleans for a Pirates themed ride. Old west themed lands. Castles. World's of "tomorrow" that never really came to fruition (but that's a whole other article).
But the fact is, Disney was the top. Even after Universal Studios Florida opened Universal was really second fiddle to Disney and it seemed that's where they were destined to stay.
And then in the late 90's and into 2001 Disney built a couple of parks that weren't quite as successful as they probably should have been, because Disney was trying to save some money. Disney was always the "first offer" when it came to franchises to create themed environments for (yes, even Potter) but they were famously hesitant to give up any control when it came to the final say over what was in their parks.
And it is for that reason JK Rowling found the perfect partner to re-create her Wizarding World of Harry Potter ... and then everything changed.
On May 10, 2010 the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened at Islands of Adventure and thus started the theme park war that we now see ourselves in.
No longer would off-the-shelf mouse coasters themed to Dinosaur parking lots or twisty roads in the Santa Monica Mountains be enough. Swing rides that looked like oranges, gone. Special effects shows featuring crappy war movies, gone.
But the impact wasn't just for Disney. It opened up a whole new era for Universal Studios across the world which has probably benefited the Hollywood Park more than any other.
Just look at the timeline for Disney and Universal just since Wizarding World opened:
Unknown opening as of this time: Tron Coaster (MK), Guardians of the Galaxy (Epcot), Super Nintendo World (USH)
And these are just the highlights, so much has been done at all of these parks since 2010. And we're just getting started.
In addition to these attractions at Disney and Universal, the other park chains are starting to catch on to themed rides and environments. We've seen the Justice League rides at Six Flags parks. Coasters with themed elements like Mystic Timbers at Kings Island, Cobra's Curse at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay and Verbolten at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.
The complete re-do of Ghost Town at Knott's Berry Farm. Interactive dark rides at Legoland. Even smaller parks like Glenwood Caverns are opening themed rides that fit their parks.
And of course for the coaster fans we've seen the complete re-imagining of classic wooden coasters thanks to Rocky Mountain Construction, the continued success of B&M Hyper Coasters and the infusion of newer manufacturers (to the US) like MACK and Gerstlauer. Parks like Lagoon are even building their own coasters.
As I said, it's an AMAZING time to be a Theme Park Fan.
Sure, there are always there are those who will find fault with anything. Guardians of the Galaxy Tower, Volcano Bay, World of Pandora, Soarin' Around The World, duplication of rides at Six Flags. There is not ONE attraction opening up at any park that is beyond critique. No matter the chain, theme, ride system, fan-base ... inevitably somebody out there is going to hate it, or at least give the perception that they hate it.
But now that the theme park war is almost a decade old it shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, with all of the rumors going around with Tron coming to Magic Kingdom, Guardians and Ratatouille coming to EPCOT, NintendoLand coming to Universal, more Potter coming, Marvel and of course Star Wars Land there is going to be more choice than ever.
For those of us that can look beyond what company is creating what environment and enjoy lots of different things at different parks, it's absolutely amazing. For those that continue to support only one company while still criticizing everything that company does you are likely going to be continually disappointed.
IP's aren't going anywhere. Screenz aren't going anywhere. Overlays of existing rides to fit what's new and hip aren't going anywhere. Synergy is where it's at. And why not. When you have franchises that are pulling in BILLIONS of dollars every year at the Box Office it's no surprise that corporations want to capitalize on that with attractions and most importantly, merchandising.
So you can either continue to be disappointed with the highest quality attractions theme parks have ever created or just go with the flow and enjoy the ride ...
If you've been a fan of this site for awhile, first, thank you, but second, you'll know we have no sympathy for "Disney Complainers". You know the type.
The ones who despite having open theme parks in their back yard will complain about this not being centered.
The placement of this is mildly humorous at best, not something that needs to be endlessly mocked on social media or that you need to spend 2 hours complaining about on YouTube to get hits.
And I say this as somebody who has OCD about these kinds of things.
So I figured I'd be nice and share some things you can spend your disposable income and free time on, since Disney so obviously doesn't care about you and your want of things perfectly centered (and the other million things you always complain about).
Seriously, you're in Florida, go to the beach. Learn to surf. Ron Jon offers Surf Lessons for $65 an hour. And then once you know how to surf, the beach is free and stuff. Although you'll probably complain about something like too many fish in the water or something.
Speaking of beach stuff, The Dive Station in Orlando offers Scuba lessons. Maybe you can finally find nemo?
NASCAR Driving Experience
Physical activity not your thing? Sitting in a car your thing? Most NASCAR tracks have driving experiences. Check them all out! Here is the info for the one at Daytona. We promise, you'll still get to compare it to Tomorrowland Speedway.
National Parks Pass
Still want something to do with "parks", still need a "pass" of some kind? Look no further than our national parks. And you'd be doing something constructive with that hard earned money. You think 4 theme parks is a lot? How about 133 destinations your pass is good at.
You obviously LOVE to take pictures of stuff. Maybe branch out and find something else to take pictures of. Architecture. Nature. Cracks in the ground. It's all there for the taking! Literally!
Maybe you're tired of taking pictures of things, maybe paint them instead?
Ok, you may have to wait a bit for this one, but concerts are freaking awesome. Follow The Grateful Dead on a nationwide tour. You'll meet some interesting people that will surely be memorable.
Find your local Starbucks and finally get started on your great American novel.
You're a Disney fan, so maybe you're not into high thrills, but maybe you are. Jump out of a perfectly good airplane! We promise, the first time you have something to complain about with this hobby you won't have time to actually complain about it. Tampa even has a Parachute Rigging and Sales company.
Have that itch to flip things on eBay? Think Disney has the market cornered on it? Well think again. Air Jordan's. Purses. Used clothing. You can totally scam people and have nothing to do with Disney. It's still possible to make your dreams come true!
Other Theme Parks
You think you find a lot of things to complain about at Disney? Oh boy. Let us introduce you to the plethora of other theme parks out there. Coasters with exposed steel, front of the line passes you have to actually pay for, hotels not within walking distance to the park. Oh, and most of them aren't even open every day. (seriously, don't do this one)
This one definitely is the one for those of you who like to just stay home and rant online. But instead of putting those fingers to work on your keyboards, put them to work on a guitar fret. Or better yet, get an actual keyboard and become the next keyboard superstar. Even better still, get a Keytar!!
Still feel the need to take pictures around man-made things? Did you know there are entire cities out there just for the exploring? And those cities sometimes even have hidden (backstage!) things to find?
Jim Cantore can't chase those hurricane's forever. That could be you!!! You can warn all the people who still appreciate and love Disney to stay away from the parks.
We've saved the best for last. How about just going to Disney, being appreciative that you're alive at the same time that Disney Parks exist, maybe have some FUN in the parks (and online). I promise you, it's a much more fulfilling existence even if it may cut into your ad revenue a bit.
Yesterday we were sent some pictures of Lagoon Park in Utah by a friend, always excited to get pictures of parks, especially during this time when so few of them are open.
Sadly, what I saw in these pictures made me upset more than anything, and I'll try and explain why.
Whether you choose to believe it or not, we are in the middle of a global pandemic.
Whether you refuse to believe it or not, the numbers from that pandemic are going up, while we are opening more and more things.
Whether you want to believe it or not, wearing a face covering and social distancing from others as much as possible DOES help.
Now, I will say, we've been getting conflicting information from the WHO and CDC since this began, with disastrous results. Not because they aren't doing their jobs, but people (as a whole) don't really understand how science, and testing of a new disease works.
See, we are still learning about the virus. So at first we over-prepare and over-compensate. And then as we learn more information about that virus, that information gets released. That means that what was said in March doesn't necessarily apply in June. And what is said now won't necessarily apply in October.
And now, RIGHT NOW, the experts are saying that wearing a face covering and social distancing are the way to go.
So if you want things to open up, and we ALL do, then the VERY LEAST we can do is to wear a face covering and try to social distance as much as possible.
So we'll start this off with a graphic of current COVID-19 cases in Utah.
Not pretty, right? And I'm not trying to pick on Utah here because the numbers are going up everywhere, but ouch.
And here are the pictures from Lagoon Park. Yesterday. June 10th. Two Days after they saw their highest number of cases. Ever.
You can click the images, and try and find the people wearing face coverings. I noticed 2. In all of the pictures.
Folks, this is not the way.
If you want things to open, this is not the way.
If you want to get back to what some may call a "normal" life, this is not the way.
If you really do care about "all lives", this is not the way.
And of course, with the numbers going up some are already blaming this on protests. Look at the pictures from those protests. You probably have 95% of people wearing face coverings. In the same summer heat as Lagoon Park, and sometimes much hotter.
If people who are protesting for something as important as Black Lives Matter, and are able to wear a face covering, the VERY LEAST you can do is wear one on a roller coaster.
Do I like wearing a face coverings? Hardly. I have asthma. It's not the easiest thing in the world. But I even take one with me when I run. Because I'm trying to be courteous to my fellow humans. And that's all anybody is really asking for.
So when these parks and other places do start to open, and face coverings are required, don't yell at the front line employees or cast members. They aren't the ones making these decisions. The decisions are being made at the very highest levels in an attempt to keep everybody safe.
And please, smaller parks, take a look at your policies regarding face coverings. And maybe start requiring them. Because, as I've said all along, an outbreak traced back to one theme park, is bad for all theme parks.
Are face coverings 100% effective, do they know 100% of the science behind it? No way. And if the experts say something different about face coverings in a few months, we'll try that too.
But the least we can do is try to do the right thing in these uncertain times.
- Gregg Condon: Editor in Chief
June 13th Update. Lagoon Park has updated their park policy regarding masks and now require them in queue lines. You can read those details at the link below.