Considering how I’m always saying I’m not a theme park fan, I have spent a surprisingly large amount of time in Orlando going to, um, theme parks. In Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson says of James May “He’s the only man whose been to the North Pole who didn’t want to be there”. This is basically me at Disneyworld.I feel the pain of everyone who is dragged along to theme parks against their will – be it parents who accompany theme-park-mad-kids, long-suffering partners of theme-park-nuts, or the grandma sitting with the bags and coats. How do you have a good day in these circumstances?
Plan something for you
Look at the Park website beforehand and identify any rides you would like to go on (there is normally at least one ride or attraction that might suit, eg. a carousel, a restaurant. In Epcot there is “Club Cool” where you can taste various soft-drinks from around the world. In Epcot, and in Alton Towers in the UK there is an Aquarium. In Disney’s Animal Kingdom and in Drayton Manor in the UK there is a zoo. My BF has always been amenable to chosing theme parks I am more likely to enjoy, and weaving in things I might like. Even if all you want is a big old ice cream at a particular cafe, make sure you do that as your day will be better for it!
My BF is at pains to point out that theme parks are not all about rides – there are shows too – like in Universal Studios, there is an animal actors show, and a special effects make-up show. However I think we can discount his opinion since he is constantly trying to persuade me that from the top of a ride there is a “good view”, and he claims that people go to Alton Towers to “look at the nice gardens”. Humph.
Check Special Events
It is worth checking if there are any special or seasonal events going on – eg. the plant and garden exhibition in Epcot, or the Osborne Family Christmas Lights in Disney Hollywood Studios. This may hold interest for those not interested in the park itself.
Make sure you don’t plan to have 14 days straight in theme parks (despite the fact that this represents the best value for the tickets!). As a Theme Park Hater, you will go crazy! I have a very patient friend who is a Theme Park Hater but somehow he accompanies his wife to theme parks in Orlando every year. I don’t know how he does it! I would rather abate the theme-parkness by punctuating theme park days with other things – like in Orlando you could try beach days (eg. Clearwater or Honeymoon Island), shopping days (eg. The Florida Mall, The Premium Outlets Mall), or activity days (crazy golf, airboat ride etc) to break up the theme-park-ness.
Remember it is their day, so try not to moan or criticise the parks too much even if you think they’re tacky / overpriced / monuments of capitalism etc and your feet hurt. Try to be positive, or at least act positive. Vast amounts of sugar might help with this.
Don’t think about the Bill
Theme Parks are extortionate. There’s no getting away from that. You need a second mortgage to afford tickets, and don’t even get me started on parking!! But once you’ve resigned yourself to going, try not to think about how much it will cost or you will probably have a heart attack.
If Theme Parks makes them happy, enjoy the fact they are happy and got to experience it. They transport my BF back to his 8-year-old self, with rosy cheeks and fluffy hair, running from ride to ride. I am happy that he got to go back there (to Disney, not back in time).
Think of the Brownie Points!
In return for your selfless theme-park attendance, you surely deserve to be treated like the princesses you have been forced to look at all day. And you certainly should have first dibbs on where your next holiday location will be!
And if all else fails, use sedatives. (Just kidding!;) )
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